February 9, 2022

Book Review by Go For Launch! Alumni Kiera Fehr

Richard Maurer’s book, Destination Moon, gives readers the unique opportunity to explore the story of America’s voyage to the moon with the same untamed eagerness as the leaders that advocated for our high-priced expedition so many decades ago. The chronologically organized structure serves as a timeline that backtracks to WWII, letting readers take a ride through time where the odds pile up. The book’s inclusion of WWII stories constructs a foundation of information that is drawn on throughout the book. Maurer’s take on the famed story of man’s journey to the moon is particularly notable because of the detail paid to drawing connections between WWII and early development of the space program. The doubt that America faced throughout the entire progression of NACA and early NASA almost made readers question history as they wonder if America will meet the late Kennedy’s goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

Throughout the book, the author focuses on the top brass of what was built to become NASA and how their stories blended behind the scenes to make the unbelievable become increasingly possible. Featuring the interactions and impact made by Max Faget, Thomas O. Paine, Deke Slayton, Samuel Phillips, Wernher von Braun, and James Webb, the book guides a reader through their interconnections and devised plans to make NASA operations perform at its finest rate. References are made to WWII when these managers face problems that have solutions only derived from America being such a strong force in the war. From war-era supply lines shifting to build rocket parts, to the “get it done” attitude, many saw the war as a mentality to push the limits of what could get done on a strict timeline. The focus on the program as a whole through the eyes of its most influential managers brings to light the strategies used to appoint tasks, train leaders, and outsource the support needed for such an immense task.

Maurer’s recollection of events whisks away readers on a thrilling journey that allows a chance to observe the inner workings of NASA that defied the odds of a hesitant nation, a losing race with Russia, and ultimately efforts that confronted the laws of nature themselves. Destination Moon serves as a reminder to not only the American people, but to the World, that any task can be accomplished with the drive, passion, and courage that the Apollo program exhibited as the race to the moon commenced.

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