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American Moonshot

John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race
Written by: Douglas Brinkley
Narrated by: Stephen Graybill
Length: 17 hrs and 14 mins
Categories: History, Americas
5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A 2020 Audie Awards winner - history/biography

As the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing approaches, the award-winning historian and perennial New York Times best-selling author takes a fresh look at the space program, President John F. Kennedy’s inspiring challenge, and America’s race to the moon.

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.” (President John F. Kennedy)

On May 25, 1961, JFK made an astonishing announcement: his goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. In this engrossing, fast-paced epic, Douglas Brinkley returns to the 1960s to recreate one of the most exciting and ambitious achievements in the history of humankind. American Moonshot brings together the extraordinary political, cultural, and scientific factors that fueled the birth and development of NASA and the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo projects, which shot the US to victory in the space race against the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. 

Drawing on new primary source material and major interviews with many of the surviving figures who were key to America’s success, Brinkley brings this fascinating history to life as never before. American Moonshot is a portrait of the brilliant men and women who made this giant leap possible, the technology that enabled us to propel men beyond earth’s orbit to the moon and return them safely, and the geopolitical tensions that spurred Kennedy to commit himself fully to this audacious dream. Brinkley’s ensemble cast of New Frontier characters include rocketeer Wernher von Braun, astronaut John Glenn, and space booster Lyndon Johnson.

A vivid and enthralling chronicle of one of the most thrilling, hopeful, and turbulent eras in the nation’s history, American Moonshot is an homage to scientific ingenuity, human curiosity, and the boundless American spirit. 

©2019 Douglas Brinkley (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • George
  • 2019-05-14

Makes for great summer reading

Wow! What a great summer read! This book focuses primarily on the “space race” and all the political wrangling that it entitled. It’s not really a book that is deep on details about science or describing space travel. I really enjoyed this perspective from the author. I didn’t have any problems with the narrator, thought he did a good job.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Eric Ragland
  • 2019-08-24

Listening to moonshot history!

Awesome listen. I didn't know there was such resistance to getting the job done! Great job!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Paul
  • 2019-07-05

Save on publishing cost

Publishers could save a lot of money on editing costs by just publishing the book and then letting all these massively anal retentive reviewers list the errors and then re-print with their corrections. Do people really have all this time to list the minutia of factual errors?

3 people found this helpful

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  • M. Roper
  • 2019-04-17

Quality of narration lacking

The story is there, but I had significant difficulties listening to this audiobook. Stephen Graybill’s reading often sounds like he’s out of breathe. I had to pause on multiple occasions and remind myself I was not in the middle of a run myself. Graybill also tended to over emphasize his pronunciations for dramatic effect. This might be fine during climatic scenes, but doing so in the prologue makes it difficult for the listener to engage. I plan on returning this book, which is a shame because I love the topic.

3 people found this helpful

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  • william d estes
  • 2020-04-26

Finally questions answered

What a difference of respect for Americas Presidents in that era of American history. The media was fair and candid to both political parties.
The cold war threatened our very existence with a possible nuclear catastrophe with Russia. JFK was challenged by the race to the moon with Russia. We as Americans pulled together as a nation to win the space race. We had pride and the heroics of the newly appointed astronauts were our knights foraging tha stars and strips to space victory. I was 24 years old working on the minute man missile project at Areojet General and eating lunch when President Kennedy was assassinated. It was crushing news. This writer has taken up a lot of time here. Just want to say after JFK's death, President Johnson's loyalty and support for JFK's long fight to get a man on the moon was reflected in this book. I was surprised to learn this after all these years. Finally positive facts written.

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  • RichardB
  • 2020-02-24

Starts strong, ends with a dud, lots of errors

I loved thr history at the beginning and thought of how it would end at Apollo 11 but really it ends with JFK being shot. Makes you realize it was a book about Kennedy in the end, not about the moon shot. Lots of errors that are baffling and simple to check with Google.

I wouldn't recommend it. Brinkley is getting tired, I guess TDS does that.

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  • KEVIN B NAVAILLE
  • 2019-10-02

What to expect

I did not expect this to be so political. It was a good story. But I would’ve preferred more of though science/planning building of the NASA program. Discovered major points of that story without details that I would’ve enjoyed.

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  • David J. Ham
  • 2019-09-11

Captivating true story

A reminder of the importance of having bold dreams but also the challenges of political realities. Amazing story of US history.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-05-13

brought back memories. <br /><br />

really enjoyed this book. I was a teenager doing the race to the moon. remembered all the space race events. the political backstory in this book gave me a different insight. highly recommend this book to those interested in the Kennedy years.

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  • Lowball
  • 2019-04-30

Excellent account of the origins of the space race

Douglas Brinkley gives an excellent account of John F Kennedy's propelling this nation to put a man on the moon. It details taking all the German scientists and technology to the United States and the horrible way they were received. This book shows a fascinating side to the president. His inspiration galvanized our ability to come out from behind and successfully explore the moon.