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Promised the Moon: The Untold Story of the First Women in the Space Race Hardcover – Oct 15 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada (AHC); 1st edition (Oct. 15 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143013475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143013471
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,497,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
A very rewarding read! This book made me realize how much women accomplished as aviators from the early 1900s to the 1960s. It's an in-depth, accurate look at their struggles, jobs, and personal lives.

I'm very perplexed at one reviewer's negative comments and "misrepresentation" posted here (did they actually read the same book?), including the inference that Margaret A. Weitekamp's work pre-dates this book (it doesn't - it came out around the same time).

In fact, Nolan's book doesn't make any claims that NASA was directly involved. It correctly describes the work of Dr. Lovelace and Jackie Cochran as independent from NASA, and repeatedly points out how, in the 1960s, newspapers and magazines like Life were enthralled with the idea of "female astronauts" and published stories about women like Jerrie Cobb. The book goes on to show how NASA responded at the time with a statement: "NASA says it never had a plan to put a woman in space, it doesn't have one today and it doesn't expect to have one in the forseeable future ... Any story that you may have read or heard to the effect that NASA is selecting and training girl astronauts just isn't true."

Much of the book is actually about the women's backgrounds in aviation, which made me appreciate how much history I had missed out on.
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Format: Hardcover
As a Canadian, for many years I have had the pleasure of following Ms Nolen's International journalism in the Globe and Mail, our country's national newspaper. In that same newspaper, I spotted a glowing review of "Promised the Moon" by Roberta Bondar, and it was then that I purchased the book and learned the little-known story of the Mercury 13.
Ms Nolen has certainly done her research. She has tracked down the surviving members of the Mercury 13, and told their story in such a way that even a space "layperson" such as myslef can understand the details. A fascinating, well-written piece of non-fiction by an award-winning journalist. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Full disclosure: I am the daughter of Gene Nora Stumbough Jessen who was one of the FLATs (Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees) and so I am more than casually interested in this story. Plus I've met the author, so I'm going to be even less professional, and call her Stephanie!
Every student of the US-Soviet Space Race should have this book. The FLATs have had their story of thirteen women who passed the 1960's astronaut tests (famously described and pictured in "The Right Stuff") told in several media, but Stephanie's is the most thorough job. Her book is liberally sprinkled through with transcripts, letters, interviews, and other primary sources. She presents all sides of the issues, and is exceptionally fair to those who can no longer speak for themselves, especially Jacqueline Cochrane.
Stephanie does an excellent job drawing the reader into the late '50's and early '60's, painting what seems to be an accurate picture of that era. She lets the primary sources speak for themselves and generally comments just enough to keep the narrative going. For example: in my lifetime I have only known John Glenn as a somewhat liberal Democrat senator from Ohio, and part of the Keating Five. Stephanie ably describes how especially he was seen to be nearly a god during the Space Race. We've seen that before in books and movies, but Stephanie's book tells the story from these exceptional women pilots' perspective.
In a nutshell: this is a darn interesting story, and Stephanie writes well and had a good editor. An easy, fascinating read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius on Jan. 8 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am perplexed by the misrepresentation that is presented about this book by the publisher in its advertising copy. There was never a NASA program, clandestine or otherwise, to bring women into the astronaut corps in the late 1950s and early 1960s. We can debate whether or not NASA leaders should have been open to appointing women astronauts, but the reality was that such an expansion of the astronaut corps never even crossed their minds at the time. Additionally, Stephanie Nolen was not the first to "track down" and interview the women who undertook physical tests identical to those of the Mercury Seven astronauts. Margaret A. Weitekamp's work on the subject predates Nolen's research. It was first presented in a dissertation at Cornell University, and is forthcoming as "The Right Stuff: The Wrong Sex: The Lovelace Women in Space Program" from Johns Hopkins University Press in 2004. It will be the authoritative work on this subject.
In addition, the story of the "Mercury 13," as some call these women, is pretty well known in the spaceflight history community. In 1960, Dr. W. Randolph 'Randy' Lovelace II invited Geraldyn 'Jerrie' Cobb to undergo the physical fitness testing regimen that he had helped to develop to select the original U.S. astronauts, the Mercury Seven. Jerrie Cobb became the first American woman to do so, and she proved every bit as successful in the tests as had John Glenn and the other Mercury astronauts. Thereafter, Lovelace and Jerrie Cobb began to recruit more women to take the tests, totally without NASA involvement. Jacqueline Cochran, the famous American aviatrix and an old friend of Lovelace, joined their recruiting effort and volunteered to pay the testing expenses.
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