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Dark Side of the Moon [Degroot, 2006] (hardcover)
978-0814719954
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Detailed Description

  • Hardcover, 300 pages
  •  NYU Press; November 1, 2006
  • ISBN: 978-0814719954
When President Kennedy announced that the United States would land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, he forced NASA to assume a "faster, cheaper, better" mindset that continues to bedevil it today, says DeGroot (The Bomb: A History). The space agency quickly came up against the budgetary pressures of the Vietnam War and expanding domestic programs, but as DeGroot writes, Lyndon Johnson insisted the U.S. would meet his predecessor's goal, even as NASA's budget was cut every year. DeGroot reveals that engineers turned a blind eye on slipshod components in order to meet impossible deadlines. NASA's public relations machine portrayed its astronauts as wholesome all-Americans even as many of them behaved like rutting frat boys when off duty. The claim has often been made that consumers benefited from the space program, but the author points out that Tang, Velcro and Teflon were invented long before Sputnik was launched. DeGroot writes with 20-20 hindsight, and his sarcasm may put off some readers, although it makes for entertaining reading. Anyone interested in a corrective view to the official hagiographies of the space program will find this acid-etched history hard to put down. (Nov.)
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