Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When We Left Earth (05): The Man Who Ran the Moon (Essential)

Piers Bizony; The Man Who Ran the Moon: James E. Webb, NASA, and the Secret History of Project Apollo (Thunder's Mouth Press; 2006; ISBN 978-1-56025-751-6; cover from a NASA photograph).

Bizony has produced several good "coffee table" books in the past (including one on space stations and one on the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey), but that is not why I'm keying this volume as "essential". This, as well as couple of others, focuses on the folks behind the missions, people that are usually overlooked in most of the histories, especially any media-produced history. Webb ran Apollo and NASA, and due to his management we see (along with the efforts of some other key personnel) the results. Oftentimes when somebody criticizes NASA for having lost its way, lost it institutional memory, etc., they cite the Apollo program as when NASA had "the right stuff". Maybe NASA needs another Webb!

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