A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey: 1957 - The Space Race Begins

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Simon and Schuster, Sep 18, 2007 - History - 320 pages
A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey tells the remarkable story of America's first efforts to succeed in space, a time of exploding rockets, national space mania, Florida boomtowns, and interservice rivalries so fierce that President Dwight Eisenhower had to referee them.

When the Soviet Union launched the first orbital satellite, Sputnik I, Americans panicked. The Soviets had nuclear weapons, the Cold War was underway, and now the USSR had taken the lead in the space race. Members of Congress and the press called for an all-out effort to launch a satellite into orbit. With dire warnings about national security in the news almost every day, the armed services saw space as the new military frontier. But President Eisenhower insisted that the space effort, which relied on military technology, be supervised by civilians so that the space race would be peaceful. The Navy's Vanguard program flopped, and the Army, led by ex-Nazi rocket scientist Wernher von Braun and a martinet general named J. Bruce Medaris (whom Eisenhower disliked), took over. Meanwhile, the Soviets put a dog inside the next Sputnik, and Americans grew more worried as the first animal in space whirled around the Earth.

Throughout 1958 America went space crazy. UFO sightings spiked. Boys from Brooklyn to Burbank shot model rockets into the air. Space-themed beauty pageants became a national phenomenon. The news media flocked to the launchpads on the swampy Florida coast, and reporters reinvented themselves as space correspondents. And finally the Army's rocket program succeeded. Determined not to be outdone by the Russians, America's space scientists launched the first primate into space, a small monkey they nicknamed Old Reliable for his calm demeanor. And then at Christmastime, Eisenhower authorized the launch of a secret satellite with a surprise aboard.

A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey memorably recalls the infancy of the space race, a time when new technologies brought ominous danger but also gave us the ability to realize our dreams and reach for the stars.

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User Review  - mirrani - LibraryThing

I needed books about monkeys for my year of the monkey reading challenge. I love history, I love space exploration and science fiction, and I love reading about how animals provided us with the ... Read full review

A BALL, A DOG, AND A MONKEY: 1957--The Space Race Begins

User Review  - Kirkus

A genial look at the earliest days of the space race.With the 1957 launch of Sputnik, the first man-made object to orbit the earth, the Soviet Union delivered arguably the most severe psychological ... Read full review


rrd Fairlanes Atom Bombs and Satellites
Y Moon Worries
a Dog Shall Lead Them
Acid Test
1g Nonchalant and Lighting Up a Marijuana
Jew Era of Exploration
ortunists and Adyenturers
e Monkey and the President
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About the author (2007)

Michael D'Antonio is the author of many acclaimed books, including Atomic Harvest, Fall from Grace, Tin Cup Dreams, Mosquito, and The State Boys Rebellion. His work has also appeared in Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Discover, and many other publications. Among his many awards is the Pulitzer Prize, which he shared with a team of reporters for Newsday.

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