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...the Heavens and the Earth

, 584 pages

25 b&w illus.

September 1997



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...the Heavens and the Earth

A Political History of the Space Age

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History

This highly acclaimed study approaches the space race as a problem in comparative public policy. Drawing on published literature, archival sources in both the United States and Europe, interviews with many of the key participants, and important declassified material, such as the National Security Council's first policy paper on space, McDougall examines U.S., European, and Soviet space programs and their politics. Opening with a short account of Nikolai Kibalchich, a late nineteenth-century Russian rocketry theoretician, McDougall argues that the Soviet Union made its way into space first because it was the world's first "technocracy"—which he defines as "the institutionalization of technological change for state purpose." He also explores the growth of a political economy of technology in both the Soviet Union and the United States.

Walter A. McDougall is Alloy-Ansin Professor of International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania, and editor of Orbis: A Journal of World Affairs. He is also author of France's Rhineland Diplomacy, 1914–1942: The Last Bid for a Balance of Power in Europe.

"Exhaustively researched, brilliantly conceived, and beautifully written."

"A lucid and comprehensive political history of the American, European, and Russian space programs."

"Once every decade or so, a book comes along that stands by itself as a remarkable contribution to the literature of a field. Such a work is Walter A. McDougall's ... the Heavens and the Earth."

"[A] boldly conceived, elegantly written, and unfailingly provocative history of the new age of space."

"This highly acclaimed study approaches the space race as a problem in comparative public policy."

"[An] immensely readable and elegant book."

"The definitive, surprising and highly readable history of the U.S. space program. Forget visionary rhetoric about humans' need to explore the next frontier: McDougal demonstrates how NASA's moon missions grew directly from Hitler's V-2 rocket project at Pennemunde and were all about the classic military necessity of controlling the high ground—in this case the really high ground... [One of] the five best books I have read about the U.S. space program."