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Ignition! cover art

Ignition!

Written by: John Drury Clark, Isaac Asimov - foreward
Narrated by: Jonathan Todd Ross
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Publisher's Summary

Ignition! is the inside story of the Cold War era search for a rocket propellant that could be trusted to take man into space. A favorite of Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, listeners will want to tune into this "really good book on rocket[s]," available for the first time in audio. 

Ignition! is the story of the search for a rocket propellant which could be trusted to take man into space. This search was a hazardous enterprise carried out by rival labs who worked against the known laws of nature, with no guarantee of success or safety. 

Acclaimed scientist and sci-fi author John Drury Clark writes with irreverent and eyewitness immediacy about the development of the explosive fuels strong enough to negate the relentless restraints of gravity. The resulting volume is as much a memoir as a work of history, sharing a behind-the-scenes view of an enterprise that eventually took men to the moon, missiles to the planets, and satellites to outer space. A classic work in the history of science, listeners will want to get their hands on this influential classic, available for the first time in decades.

©2018 John Drury Clark (P)2018 Random House Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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  • RW
  • 2023-06-04

A lovely book on the history of rocketry

This is a lovely look at the history of rocketry from the point of view of a chemist.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

HIlarious, dense read

For any aficionados of chemistry, or those who always carry a chemistry textbook, this book is an absolute must-have: a deep, genuinely funny look at a niche topic that'll get you every dollar worth. For everyone else... be prepared to get lost. I only have a Grade 11 chemistry background, as well as a fair bit of hobby science, but even I found myself looking back and forth between wikipedia pages to keep up with the chemical abbreviations and compound names. It's a lot to take in, and a lot of the time I found myself wondering "Wait, what does that mean again?"

That said: even with my being almost totally lost by Chapter 8, I enjoyed it. I find it hard to give a positive review to something I didn't *really* understand, so note that despite the 3-star rating, if you can keep up, this book is excellent—I'm strictly speaking in the context of how much I "got". Still, even if I didn't grasp most of it, some of the genuinely witty lines and stories contained here are actually worth your money (keep an ear out for the bits on Chlorine Trifluoride, and the story about the generals testing one particular fuel by dropping a rat in a huge tank of it). Recommended for any rocketry nerds and science fans, as well as anyone with a university-level understanding of chemistry.

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For initiated people only

So boring…. If you are not a chimiste you won’t understand a thing…. I am an mechanical engineer and stop the book after 2 hours…. I wasn’t even listening anymore at the end.

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