The monumental 607-page book symbolizes the monumental work that author Loretta Hall must have done in order to write this book. By her own admission in a note to the reader, she has had more of a developmental editor role than author, although that does not undermine by any means the importance and magnitude of what she has had to do in order to bring Space Pioneers: In Their Own Words to the public. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The stories, which follow a chronological order, are told by the space pioneers themselves, as the title promises. The author, however, introduces most of the stories, which are told in a way that can interest an average reader who would otherwise be lost with too much technical jargon. Although the chapters are topic- and subject-based, I found that each chapter can potentially stand on its own, meaning one can easily hop from chapter 3 to chapter 9 without feeling as though one has missed much. Given the 90 personal accounts contained in this book, I would imagine readers could find it easy to focus on accounts that interest them more than others. I have, for example, experienced this myself when reading a few stories to my son, who is seven years old, and loves to learn about outer space. As a result of these stories, there is now one more boy who daydreams of, one day, becoming part of a book titled Space Pioneers.
Review by Brunella Costagliola (May 2019)
Ninety space pioneers describe their experiences while working on space research and exploration from the 1940s through the space shuttle program. Some of these men and women were well known as astronauts or members of Mission Control for Apollo flights to the Moon, and some were minor players in the programs-people like lab technicians, weather forecasters, welders, and helicopter pilots who supported rocket tests. Their stories disclose events and behind-the-scenes details available nowhere else. They reveal the human experiences of an era that extended from the launch of this planet's first "artificial moon" to routine shuttle missions carrying people and supplies between Earth and the International Space Station. Drawn from the archives of the oral history program supported by the International Space Hall of Fame Foundation, the excerpts describe funny, frightening, and fascinating episodes. They paint the hues of human experience on the canvas of technological achievements. In this book, for the first time, extensive portions of the New Mexico Museum of Space History and International Space Hall of Fame's oral history collection are available to the general public. Supplemented with photographs and annotated for historical context, this presentation offers a unique glimpse into humanity's struggles to become a spacefaring race. That perspective forms an important foundation for the new era of commercial spaceflight and interplanetary exploration.
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Review Genre: Nonfiction—History
Number of Pages: 618