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Dark Side of the Moon: Wernher von Braun, the Third Reich, and the Space Race

3.11 of 5 stars 3.11  ·  rating details  ·  45 ratings  ·  14 reviews
This illuminating story of the dawn of the space age reaches back to the reactionary modernism of the Third Reich, using the life of “rocket scientist” Wernher von Braun as its narrative path through the crumbling of Weimar Germany and the rise of the Nazi regime. Von Braun, a blinkered opportunist who could apply only tunnel vision to his meteoric career, stands as an arc ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 28th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company
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A Man on the Moon by Andrew ChaikinFailure is Not an Option by Gene KranzThe Right Stuff by Tom WolfeLost Moon by Jim LovellCarrying the Fire by Michael  Collins
Space Books
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Alexia Gordon
Dark Side of the Moon read like a glorfied op-ed piece. Biddle sprinkled his manuscript with quotes from secondary sources and lots of German and French words (which slowed down the reading without adding anything to the story) to try to hide the fact that this book is really just an essay on his low opinion of Germany. Wernher von Braun seemed an afterthought in his own biography. Biddle would go on for pages about the narrow-mindedness of the German aristocratic class and the ineptitude of ear ...more
Greg Stoll
Meh. The point of the book is to show that Wernher von Braun was really a Nazi and not nearly as innocent as he later claimed. The book is relatively short (~150 pages) but very dry and a bit hard to follow. (disclaimer: I read this when I was exhausted, so it's possibly less dry than I thought, but I'm sure not going to read it again to find out)
Max Williamson
very well written and clearly well researched. recommended to anyone with an interest in any of the areas it covers.

opens by considering von braun's career and life in the wider context of the relationship between scientific discovery and morality, and whether a scientist has a case to answer for applications that arise from his work.

what he brings to light about von braun's upbringing is also very interesting and revealing

however, i had expected and hoped the book would cover his work for the
um, yeah, Wernher von Braun was a Nazi...
Doug Jennings
Author Wayne Biddle described the fascinating events and zeitgeist in the Germany of Werner Von Braun's parents and his childhood leading up to Hitler's rise to Chancellor. He describes the romanticising of technology that gripped the imagination of the German people and Nazis in particular. This lead to the acceleration of rocket science development for the Nazi war effort. The rockets that were mass produced by the Nazi regime were created with slave labor in inhuman conditions. Thousands of F ...more
Charlotte Smith
I really enjoyed this book. It was a gripping account of Von Braun and documents his journey in becoming a world renowned rocket scientist. The book does delve into his involvement with the Nazi Party. I think it is unlikely he would not have known about the horrendous treatment of slave workers at the military base where he spent so much of his time during WW2. However Dark Side of The Moon does also focus on what Von Braun wanted to achieve, to get mankind into space. And on to the Moon.

I like the historical context of how the rocket programme started and where it was going, but at the same time, the point about how von Braun is 'special' and was spared trial for his Nazi credentials became a tad repetitive.

Ira Langstein
Magnificent. Exposes the many innate contradictions in what we call: being human.
Because von Braun was able to transform his status from Nazi rocket scientist to father of the U.S. space program, biographer Biddle was challenged to overcome the lack of information on -- some would say willful disinterest in -- the first four decades of his subject's life. The result is a book that at once is too long and too short. Worth reading, though.
Interesting topic, but I found the writing incredibly dry. This book had made me think much more critically about the Von Braun mythology. I would have liked to delve deeper into his post-war career, but that wasn't really within the scope of this book.
Somewhat disappointing (almost any many footnotes as narrative). Von Braun was the darling of the "space race" media in the 60's. Even then it smelled of bull-shit...former Nazi leads US to victory in space race against the Commies.

+5 stars for the aggressive historical context
-2 stars for adding nothing to Neufeld's work
-1 star for the bizarre writing style; it's weird what Biddle chooses to focus on (and dismiss)
The book was eye-opening for a person like me who watched the Apollo launches and all the praise heaped on Werner von Braun. In the pages of this book I learned the dark past of the man.
So poorly written and argued that I could not finish it.
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