Apollo’s Legacy: Perspectives on the Moon Landings

Roger D. Launius. Smithsonian, $27.95 (264p) ISBN 978-1-58834-649-0
In this page-turning history, Launius (The Smithsonian History of Space Exploration), former chief historian for NASA, investigates how “belief, knowledge, rational thought, and myth” have all shaped the legacy of NASA’s Apollo program in popular memory. Throughout, Launius is careful to relate conflicting perspectives. The program, he reminds readers, was initially attacked from both sides of the political aisle for costs “greater than their worth,” but the successful missions to the moon between 1969 and 1972 established Apollo as an exemplar of American scientific accomplishment. From the “sophisticated technical competence” that brought it to life, to the careful presentation of the astronauts as ideal American heroes (“one of the truly great examples of mythmaking in modern American history”), Apollo expanded Americans’ conception of the possible—for “if we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we do X?” Whether covering hard-to-explain scientific concepts or the puzzling persistence of moon-landing deniers, Launius’s erudite, approachable storytelling is superlative. Despite his past connection to NASA, he evenhandedly unpacks agency triumphs and failures alike. Space Age aficionados, political junkies, and general readers will find both the unexpected and the fascinating in Launius’s scrupulously researched account. (May)
Reviewed on : 01/18/2019
Release date: 05/14/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-1-58834-652-0
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