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A Dictionary of the Space Age

, 288 pages
April 2009
List price:$54.00
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A Dictionary of the Space Age

2009 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice

The launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 ushered in an exciting era of scientific and technological advancement. As television news anchors, radio hosts, and journalists reported the happenings of the American and the Soviet space programs to millions of captivated citizens, words that belonged to the worlds of science, aviation, and science fiction suddenly became part of the colloquial language. What’s more, NASA used a litany of acronyms in much of its official correspondence in an effort to transmit as much information in as little time as possible. To translate this peculiar vocabulary, Paul Dickson has compiled the curious lingo and mystifying acronyms of NASA in an accessible dictionary of the names, words, and phrases of the Space Age.

Aviators, fighter pilots, and test pilots coined the phrases "spam in a can" (how astronauts felt prelaunch as they sat in a tiny capsule atop a rocket booster); "tickety-boo" (things are fine), and "the Eagle has landed" (Neil Armstrong’s famous quote when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon).

This dictionary captures a broader foundation for language of the Space Age based on the historic principles employed by the Oxford English Dictionary and Webster’s New Third International Dictionary. Word histories for major terms are detailed in a conversational tone, and technical terms are deciphered for the interested student and lay reader.

This is a must-own reference for space history buffs.

Paul Dickson has written more than fifty books, including works on American history, the American language, and baseball. His recent books are the Dickson Baseball Dictionary (now in its third edition), Sputnik: The Shock of the Century, and The Bonus Army: An American Epic, which he wrote with Thomas B. Allen.

"For those seeking to understand both the definitions of many commonly-used words in the space field, as well as the origins, A Dictionary of the Space Age makes for a good investment."

"This is a must-own reference for space history buffs."

"The dictionary is well produced and easy to consult. For its comprehensive coverage of names, nicknames and technical terms and for its excellent discussion of the origins and use of terms, it is a very useful supplement to standard dictionaries as well as an invaluable guide for anyone interested in past or present space exploration and its terms."

"Well-researched, concise compilation that would be a good source for basic information and as a beginning to further research."

"If you are interested in learning more about space flight—or wish to do so—this is a good book for you."

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