One Giant Leap tells the story of the moon landing from a behind-the-scenes perspective, leaving the big picture plot points behind for the nitty gritty details many of us are unaware of. To say the trip to the Moon was a difficult task would be an understatement. The narrative shows the moon landing as one of those impossible tasks your overbearing boss sets for you, assuming you can complete it in a quarter of the necessary time, on budget and in a race with your primary competitor. It’s a fascinating take on a story that has become the most behemoth American legend since the revolution.
I was most impressed with the author’s juxtaposition of American culture alongside the complexities of creating a space program from scratch. We’ve heard all about the takeoff, the first steps, and the flag going into the ground, but it’s hard to grasp the feeling of the nation as these things were taking place. It was one of the most volatile times in our history, and the book highlights every detail of the public’s unwillingness to support spaceflight in the middle of multiple wars and the every present threat of the Soviet Union. We get a focus on Kennedy and the reasons why he was so adamant we make it to the moon and back. We see the multiple advances in spaceflight prior to the moon landing along with the cultural mindset revolving around those events. The race to space was a grueling journey against scientific capabilities, budgetary constraints, and a lack of public support. It really is remarkable the space program every really took off.
The author takes the story down to the personal level, often leaving behind the major players to focus on the many men and women who worked countless hours to make the mission happen. We get the perspective of the spacesuit designers and their anxiety as the astronauts hopped around in their brand new suits. We learn about the horrors of a missing hyphen and how it can destroy an exorbitantly expensive spaceship. Above all, we see how hard people worked and how that teamwork made the biggest difference in the end.
Overall, One Giant Leap is an excellent look at what it takes to complete an impossible journey to an impossible destination.
One Giant Leap
By Charles Fishman
Simon & Schuster
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.