The Ultimate Engineer: The Remarkable Life of NASA’s Visionary Leader George M. Low

Richard Jurek. Univ. of Nebraska, $32.95 (344p) ISBN 978-0-8032-9955-9
Jurek (Marketing the Moon, coauthor), an Air & Space magazine contributor, gives a now obscure, yet vital, player in America’s space program his due in this solid biography. George M. Low (1926–1984), who immigrated to the U.S. from Austria in 1940, joined NASA precursor NACA (the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) in 1949 as an aeronautical research scientist, and transferred to NASA upon its formation nine years later. Jurek makes extensive use of Low’s own writings, as well as interviews with his friends and family, to recount a meteoric career, which would see him head the Gemini and Apollo programs, shepherding the latter toward a successful lunar landing after the traumatic Apollo 1 fire. While according the most attention to Low’s professional achievements—which also included being named deputy NASA administrator in December 1969—Jurek takes care to humanize his subject, with appealing descriptions of Low’s devotion to his wife and to their five children. Even under the immense pressure of the Apollo program, Low tried, he told reporters, “to make it a rule not to work on Sundays.” The result of Jurek’s extensive research and careful use of detail is a comprehensive portrait of a figure vastly greater in significance than in name recognition. (Dec.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review referred to George M. Low's wife by an incorrect name.

Reviewed on : 10/08/2019
Release date: 12/01/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 330 pages - 978-1-4962-2941-0
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