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Author Topic:   John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon (Logsdon)

Posts: 6210
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 06-17-2010 08:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon
by John Logsdon
While there are many biographies of John F. Kennedy and numerous accounts of the early years of US space efforts, there has to date been no comprehensive account of how the actions taken by JFK’s administration have shaped the course of the US space program over the last 45 years. This book, based on primary source material and interviews with key participants, is such an account.

It tells the story of how JFK, only four months in office, decided that the US national interest required the country to enter and win the space race by reaching the moon "before this decade is out." It traces the evolution of his thinking and policy up until his assassination, which brought to an end his plans to moderate the space program’s goals and explore collaboration with the Soviets.

About the Author
John Logsdon is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, and until his retirement was the long-time director of GWU’s Space Policy Institute. Author of the seminal study The Decision to Go to the Moon (1970) and the main article for “space exploration” in the newest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, he is a sought-after commentator on space issues who has appeared on all major broadcast and cable networks, along with many international news shows. He was a member of the NASA Advisory Council from 2005-2009 and remains a member of its Exploration Committee. From 2008-2009 he held the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History at the National Air and Space Museum. In 2003 he served as a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (January 4, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 023011010X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230110106


Posts: 258
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 06-21-2011 11:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I highly recommend John M. Logsdon's new book, "John F. Kennedy and the Race To The Moon." It is a clear and well written authoritative account of how and why the the Apollo Program was authorized and supported by President Kennedy.

Logsdon sets the stage by taking us back to late 1960 and early 1961 as John Kennedy became President and quickly became bedeviled by the Soviet Union's stunning accomplishment of Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man to orbit the Earth on April 12, 1961 and then the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba on April 17th.

What could Kennedy do to begin to counter these setbacks? Professor Logsdon takes us through the internal decision making process whereby President Kennedy approved and announced to the Nation in an address to a joint secession of Congress on May 25, 1961 that "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth." The race to the moon was on, and the United States was not going to settle for second place.

In the heat of the Cold War and with American prestige on the line, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress quickly backed this effort and with little controversy or debate approved massive increases in funding for this new national goal.

These events, now fifty years old, seem even further away in time since today's bitter and highly partisan politics in Washington make it unimaginable that one of the largest government engineering projects in our history could be imagined, announced and the initial funding approved in a matter of months. It is to Professor Logsdon's credit that these developments seem reasonable and rational in the Kennedy Administration of 1961.

While the book's historical narrative and analysis essentially ends with the assassination of the President in Dallas on November 22, 1963, Professor Logsdon provides a short but insightful discussion of the legacy of the Project Apollo and the successful moon landing missions. Although Project Apollo became a dead end, with the rockets and space capsules build at enormous cost for the mission abandoned and never used again after the mid 1970s, it was a singular achievement and probably accomplished President Kennedy's main goal of generating international prestige through this triumph of space exploration.

I highly recommend this short book (244 pages of text) to understand the initial Presidential decision making that America got to the moon - first.


Posts: 6210
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 06-21-2011 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's an updated version of his 1970 book.


Posts: 2212
From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 02-03-2012 07:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Written by John M.Logsdon and published by Palgrave Macmillan. I am considering buying this book, does anyone have any recommendations?

Editor's note: Threads merged.


Posts: 6210
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 05-21-2013 04:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The paperback edition is due May 22nd.


Posts: 831
From: Northampton UK
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 05-23-2013 11:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I enjoyed this book which I finished reading fairly recently. Like the George Mueller book 'Doing the Impossible' took a while to get through but also well worth the effort.

It certainly makes you realise the political maneuvering that went on and I am convinced after reading these two books that had JFK not been assassinated there was little chance the moon landings would have proceeded as he would have been under tremendous pressure to keep to his declaration of before the decade was out.

It seems to me that America felt obliged to carry out the dead President's pledge, and with the possibility of the Soviet Union getting to the Moon first, that just about made it happen but it was a close run thing, especially after Apollo 1 with many objections from prominent politicians. I am glad they did.

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