Dark Side of the Moon

Dark Side of the Moon

The Magnificent Madness of the American Lunar Quest

Book - 2006
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A selection of the History, Scientific American, and Quality Paperback Book Clubs

For a very brief moment during the 1960s, America was moonstruck. Boys dreamt of being an astronaut; girls dreamed of marrying one. Americans drank Tang, bought "space pens" that wrote upside down, wore clothes made of space age Mylar, and took imaginary rockets to the moon from theme parks scattered around the country.

But despite the best efforts of a generation of scientists, the almost foolhardy heroics of the astronauts, and 35 billion dollars, the moon turned out to be a place of "magnificent desolation," to use Buzz Aldrin's words: a sterile rock of no purpose to anyone. In Dark Side of the Moon, Gerard J. DeGroot reveals how NASA cashed in on the Americans' thirst for heroes in an age of discontent and became obsessed with putting men in space. The moon mission was sold as a race which America could not afford to lose. Landing on the moon, it was argued, would be good for the economy, for politics, and for the soul. It could even win the Cold War. The great tragedy is that so much effort and expense was devoted to a small step that did virtually nothing for mankind.

Drawing on meticulous archival research, DeGroot cuts through the myths constructed by the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations and sustained by NASA ever since. He finds a gang of cynics, demagogues, scheming politicians, and corporations who amassed enormous power and profits by exploiting the fear of what the Russians might do in space.

Exposing the truth behind one of the most revered fictions of American history, Dark Side of the Moon explains why the American space program has been caught in a state of purposeless wandering ever since Neil Armstrong descended from Apollo 11 and stepped onto the moon. The effort devoted to the space program was indeed magnificent and its cultural impact was profound, but the purpose of the program was as desolate and dry as lunar dust.

Publisher: New York : New York University Press, c2006.
ISBN: 9780814719954
Branch Call Number: 626.454
Characteristics: xiv, 321 p. ; 24 cm.


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Feb 20, 2014

I enjoyed this book! The part about the NASA vending-machine contract to the mafia says it all. Money was spent on this project without any restriction and my generation of engineer will never see the likes of it again! Except for you guys in the NSA and CRE, but bugging email is boring.

It is perfectly reasonable for intelligent people to criticize any great endeavour, even if it is not popular to do so. Mr. De Groot exposes the insanity of the moon mission and will not be getting a Mars rover named after him.


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