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  • Writer's pictureJulie Mackin

To the Moon and Back

In which was aim for the heavens

One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon by Charles Fishman 

Stars: 4

PopSugar Challenge- Prompt #1 - A book with the word “leap” in title 


Perfect if you like:

  • Contemporary histories

  • Scientific discoveries

  • History of innovation

I was looking for a book to satisfy the first prompt in the PopSugar Challenge for 2024 - a book with Leap in the title. And I am trying to read more nonfiction this year, so this seemed a perfect fit. It wasn’t a history of the Moon Landing so much as a history of what strove President Kennedy to challenge NASA to get a man on the moon and the innovations that that required.  

As Fishman points out, President Kennedy didn’t have a lot of interest in space, what he had was a desire to make sure the United States was on the Moon before the Soviet Union. Fisherman’s detailed description of the USSR’s successful rocket program highlights how precarious the balance was in the world in the 1960s; with proxy battles being fought between democracy and communism across the continents bringing the issues to space was a logical conclusion. His insights into this time period are excellent and as I was listening, I was making notes about all the other things I wanted to dive into after I finished One Giant Leap

The other great strength of this book was Fishman’s ability to describe some complex mathematical issues. When the Apollo project started, there was more NASA didn’t know than it did. They weren’t sure what the astronauts could wear, what would happen on the return trip, if a lunar module could land on the Moon and not sink into the Moon dust. Things I had never even thought about. He brings to life the people that made the spaceships possible, from the scientists to the women who literally sewed the software that would run the computers. 

After listening to Fishman’s book, I was blown away by just the sheer determination and innovation that allowed the United States to make not one, but multiple Moon landings. I would highly recommend this One Giant Leap. Now I am off to rewatch Apollo 13!

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