Dr. Space: The Life of Wernher Von Braun

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Naval Institute Press, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 282 pages
Wernher von Braun, the father of modern rocketry, is a hero to some and villain to others, and the many books written about him are either bitterly critical or adoring. This biography is neither. After seven years of investigation, veteran aerospace journalist Bob Ward has rejected the extremes and presents a revealing, even-handed portrait of the onetime Nazi Party member who brought the United States into the Space Age. As it chronicles von Braun’s life, the book explodes many myths and misconceptions about this controversial genius. From the young German aristocrat’s leadership role in the development of the world’s first ballistic missile - the infamous V-2 rocket used against the Allies during the invasion of Europe - to his successes in the United States after the war, a picture of von Braun emerges as a brilliant scientist with limitless curiosity and a drive to achieve his goals at almost any price. Yet the author’s lengthy research reveals that the apolitical von Braun accepted nominal Party membership and an essentially honorary SS commission only under heavy pressure, and that his connections to the notorious V-2 slave labor factory were largely peripheral.

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Dr. Space: The Life of Wernher von Braun

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Wernher von Braun, a driving force behind many early American accomplishments in space, was a charismatic and highly skilled (albeit somewhat disorganized) engineer and manager. He was also a former ... Read full review

About the author (2005)

John Herschel Glenn Jr. was born in Cambridge, Ohio on July 18, 1921. In 1939, he enrolled at Muskingum College to study chemistry, but took flying lessons on the side. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he signed up for the Naval Aviation cadet program and after pilot training opted to join the Marines. As a fighter pilot, he flew 59 combat missions in the Pacific earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses. During the Korean War, he flew 90 combat missions. He later became a military test pilot in the early days of supersonic flight. In 1957, he made the first transcontinental supersonic flight, piloting an F8U-1 Crusader from Los Angeles to New York in record time: 3 hours 23 minutes 8.4 seconds. He was selected as an original Mercury 7 astronaut. On February 20, 1962, he became the first American to orbit Earth. President John F. Kennedy thought him too valuable as a hero to risk losing in an accident and suggested that NASA not give him a new flight assignment. Glenn resigned from the astronaut corps in 1964. He became an executive of the Royal Crown Cola Company. In 1974, he became a Democratic senator from Ohio and went on to serve four full terms. As a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, he developed the medical rationale used in arguing his case for a return flight in space. On October 29, 1998, he became the oldest person to go into space at the age of 77. His memoir, John Glenn: A Memoir was written with Nick Taylor and published in 1999. During his lifetime, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. He died on December 8, 2016 at the age of 95.

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