Book Review – Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden Rivalries that Ignited the Space Age

Book Review from Higher Orbits Board of Directors Member Francis French – You can learn more about Francis at

“Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden Rivalries that Ignited the Space Age,” Matthew Brzezinski, 2007.

Fifty years after the start of the Space Race (when this book was published), it was hard to imagine there is much new to be said. But in this excellent book, Brzezinski gives an energetic, attention-grabbing, newly-considered interpretation of events that shows the story in a fresh light. Writing about complex politics and engineering stories can sometimes result in a dull book. But Brzezinski has a great writing style that makes this book an engaging and tense page-turner, without overblowing the mood and making it too novelistic.

Rather than the usual deeply-plowed furrow of following the thoughts of JFK and Wernher von Braun, Brzezinski takes a step back and reconsiders the evidence in a thoughtful, more original way. He presents a clear version focusing more on lesser-known but arguably far more important events and personalities. Bruce Medaris, chomping at the bit to place an American satellite in orbit and constantly thwarted; a pre-Vice Presidential LBJ, seeing the Space Race as his best chance to ascend to the highest political throne; Eisenhower, trying to maintain a calm, even attitude while events and attitudes swirl around him and make him irrelevant to the public mood. This fresh angle illuminates and rekindles a fascinating story.

(This book is available on Amazon and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention – don’t forget that you can support Higher Orbits if you use Amazon Smile when shopping Amazon!

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