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  DK's Space Flight (Giles Sparrow)

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Author Topic:   DK's Space Flight (Giles Sparrow)
E2M Lem Man
Member

Posts: 793
From: Los Angeles CA. USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 06-05-2007 04:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had the chance to read DK publishing's upcoming contribution to the 50th anniversary of space exploration and here is my review:

Space Flight
By Giles Sparrow
With a foreword by Buzz Aldrin
Published: June 2007
ISBN: 978-07566-2858-1
$40.00; hardcover; 320 pgs.

I admit it — I am a picture nut. Some historians love facts that have never been told, but I love the image that few have seen nor remember. After all ‘a picture is worth a thousand words'. So upon picking up DK Publishers - ‘Space Flight', I had a feeling I was in for a wonderful treat for mind and the eyes. I wasn't disappointed.

This coffee table sized book is a feast for the eyes and a treat for the historian in all of us. This 320 page book has over 850 photographs- many of which even I hadn't seen.

It is an impressive tribute to space exploration in the 50 years since the first satellite, Sputnik- 1 was launched in 1957. The volume begins by telling the ancient tales of the Greek scientist Hero's reaction motor and Chinese official Wan Hu's rocket chair- Which upon his using- "He was never seen on Earth again".

Turning the page you learn about the Visionaries - Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Kibalchich. Who is Nikolai Kibalchich, you ask? The 19th century Russian who came up with the gimballing or swiveling of the rocket engine that is used on almost every design of rocket today.

Not a historian or a space geek? Don't feel underprivileged; this book is THE ONE to learn from. It is a well written and balanced history of world space exploration for teenagers to adults.

That's what I love and appreciate about DK books. They are researched and well written for anyone and everyone. A researcher or a child will get something out of any book they read. The DK photo researchers do a superlative job in obtaining illustrations and photography that tell THE story. How do the crews get aboard the Soyuz spacecraft on the launch pad? See the rare photo on page 131. . The richness of much of the photography can only come from original negatives. It is DK's reputation that allows them to go to experts and institutions around the world to obtain photography of many of the original artifacts and models. If those are unavailable then they have created beautiful computer renderings of such equipment.

Spaceflight is perhaps DK's best book ever to venture out into space. Every page heading has a calendar of the 50 years since Sputnik and then major subheadings that tell details involved in that event. The book also highlights biographical and technological data about systems, places and personalities involved with space exploration. People like Semenov, Feynman, Lewei, Clark, and Rutan. Early space plane concepts and the breaking the sound barrier are also covered, and always there are those magnificent DK cutaway drawings that allow you to see what makes the vehicles tick. Call-outs allow the reader to discover details they might find informative. Giles Sparrow has done a through job in telling the story of space exploration, and Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin writes a revealing forward to the book. The acknowledgements in the back of the book read like a Who's –who of space historians with many prominent contributions.

The book covers all areas of spaceflight-‘The dawn of the space age', ‘the race to the Moon', ‘working together in space', ‘satellites and space probes', and ‘Into the future'. It also covers many nations' and some commercial efforts in space exploration. From Sanger to SpaceShipOne, The Nedelin disaster, Veneras to Cassini, Vostok to Orion. Every Apollo lunar mission has its own section.

Throughout the book there are sections that will be of interest to the young and the collector in all of us. Like Space Age Stamps and NASA mission patches (done correctly here without the collector Mercury patches that never flew with the astronauts). A very good glossary and index is included at the end of the book.

This is a magnificent volume. My only major complaint is the Apollo Spacecraft cutaway is inaccurate and displays the early and incomplete Block One spacecraft systems. DK has shown Apollo better in their earlier space related books.

If you are young, young at heart, or just want others to understand why spaceflight is important in our lives today- you will want to take off and purchase this book!

cspg
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Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 06-06-2007 12:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for your review. Now all I need is a comparative review with Space@50 by Piers Bizony, Smithsonian Books / Collins, 2006. Which one is better? (well, is the DK better?). And I am also a picture nut!

Chris.

E2M Lem Man
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Posts: 793
From: Los Angeles CA. USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 06-06-2007 05:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have both in my library - and I liked 'SpaceFlight' much more than Bizony's 'Space@50'. I enjoyed his previous '2001' and James Webb books a lot. 'Space@50' was not my favorite.

But I am not giving that book away either!

J M Busby

cspg
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Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 06-07-2007 01:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh I'm not throwing books away either!

I thought that Space@50 was too "conventional" in the sense that it's a history of spaceflight with well-known photos. I flipped through it rapidly and it's not one of my best buys.

So I was wondering just how much different the other book was. From your post, it seems more picture-oriented, which I think is a good thing but otherwise hard to tell. Why did you like the DK book better?

Chris.

Spoon
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Posts: 69
From: Carlisle, England
Registered: May 2006

posted 06-07-2007 11:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spoon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree that a lot of the pictures in Space@50 have been seen before. The actual text does merit some consideration though. Instead of a run down of "first this, and then this" happened, they are little essays on spaceflight history. I enjoyed the one concerning how the general public have failed to connect with the space programme due to the way NASA communicates with them -always underplaying the inherent difficulties of spaceflight and the enormous logistical triumph of actually completing a mission to LEO, never mind the moon! "If it sounds simple," thinks Joe Public, "it must be easy, routine and boring." so he switches off!
Funnily enough, despite the Space@50 coming across initially as a coffee table book, I think the appeal of its literary content would lie more with longer term enthusiasts than newcomers searching for a historical rundown of events, mainly due to the nature of Bizony's essays. They are points of view and reflective pieces that attempt to put events into historical perspective, discussing things that we are already familiar with. For this reason, I found it refreshingly "different."

With regards to DK's new book, if it has the same production values as their publication "Universe", it should be fantastic!

E2M Lem Man
Member

Posts: 793
From: Los Angeles CA. USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 06-07-2007 05:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You are both correct in your assessments. 'SpaceFlight' was fresh and new with it's illustrations and writing. Space @50 wasn't the kind of book I would write. So much had been seen before. Not that it was bad... but I had seen it before.

But, I was almost in a state of shock as to how well all of the spacecraft were illustrated in 'SpaceFlight', the exception being Apollo. A few years ago DK did a marvelous book of cutaways. Aircraft, ships, buildings... and Apollo. I bought it just for that, and purchased the poster of it also. I have been waiting for those to resurface in another DK publication.

J.M. Busby

cspg
Member

Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 06-08-2007 12:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Spoon, Jim, thanks for the info. I'll place the DK book in my shopping cart.

Chris.

cspg
Member

Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 06-09-2007 12:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by E2M Lem Man:
A few years ago DK did a marvelous book of cutaways.
Space Missions: From Sputnik to SpaceShip One: The History of Space Flight by Jim Winchester (Thunderbay Press) has lots of interesting cutaways and illustrations.

Chris.

GoesTo11
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Posts: 1025
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 06-14-2007 10:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've been hoping for years for an update of Kenneth Gatland's "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Space Technology." How does DK's "SpaceFlight" compare?

Thanks!
Kevin

garymilgrom
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Posts: 1571
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 06-14-2007 11:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for this review. I went to Amazon to purchase and found one of their resellers has new copies for half price - $20. I'm not sure how long this will last but if you're interested it's worth checking out.

Jurg Bolli
Member

Posts: 520
From: Albuquerque, NM
Registered: Nov 2000

posted 07-01-2008 08:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jurg Bolli   Click Here to Email Jurg Bolli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yesterday I bought a copy of this book for $10, instead of $40, at Borders, on the Remainders table, no remainder mark, well worth the price for some unusual photos and computer generated diagrams.

Jurg

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