The fantastic story of rocketeers, visionaries, and madmen, from Capitalists and Nazis in the West to Communists in the East, it’s the tale of Faustian anti-hero Wernher von Braun, solitary genius Robert Goddard, magical loner Jack Parsons, titanic Sergei Korolev, and the legendary trio of Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, and Neil Armstrong. A behind-the-scenes story of the first Space Age. Ranging from the murderous V-2 to the miraculous Saturn V, from cloak-and-dagger espionage and the blitzkrieg battles of World War II to the atomic deserts of Fort Bliss and the nail-biting missions launched at Cape Canaveral, All Up is an epic telling of the thrilling and true legends.
J. W. Rinzler has authored over 20 books including two New York Times bestsellers and a #1 best-selling graphic novel. With more than 600,000 copies in print, his books have been translated into seven languages.
J. W. Rinzler grew up in Manhattan, New York City, and then in Berkeley, California. He fell in love with old monster films, such as Dracula and Frankenstein, as well as Robin Hood and other adventure movies. He was an avid comic-book and novel reader, an intrepid moviegoer, and had his mind blown by The Beatles, Star Trek, Bruce Lee, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Frank Frazetta, Michelangelo, and Mad Magazine.
Rinzler drew his own comic books (badly), then, in his 20s, moved onto figurative oil painting (okay-ly, but self-taught). He lived in France for almost 10 years, where he began writing. Back in the USA, he worked as executive editor at Lucasfilm for fifteen years, chronicling the work of George Lucas and his genial collaborators in a series of books about Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
During this time, Rinzler also directed and wrote an animated short Riddle of the Black Cat, based on an Edgar Allan Poe story, which was accepted into several festivals, including the Montreal World Film Festival.
His latest book is an epic historical fiction thriller called ALL UP, an epic about the first Space Age, published in July 2020. The sequel will be out in a year or two...
Meanwhile his book on Howard Kazanjian, producer, is due in May 2021; and on Kubrick's The Shining in fall 2021.
Rinzler is married and has two daughters and one grandson. He lives on the northern California coast.
As usual, Goodreads doesn’t let me do half stars so this is 3.5 rounded up.
There are some legit good elements here and an excitingly paced ending. Unfortunately, it needed a stronger hand at the editing stage to help Rinzler trim and focus. So many characters that motivations get muddled and the main villain doesn’t come into enough focus.
But a fun read and compelling enough to keep me engaged so round up instead of down.
Wernher von Braun gave President Kennedy a tour of his rocket assembly plant in Alabama. A few years earlier, he had given the same tour to President Eisenhower. Remarkably, several years earlier, he gave a tour of his rocket assembly plant to Adolph Hitler at a place called Peenemünde. This extraordinary book tells the history of rocketry and spaceflight as historical fiction. It covers the pioneers of rocketry from Germany, the United States, and Russia who were inspired by the likes of Jules Verne to fly into outer space. The characters had one passion in common, but the means to achieve it were as varied as the origins of the players. Jack Parsons, a founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was a Satanist. Wernher von Braun catered to Hitler’s plans to destroy Britain to fund his research. The Russian, Korolev, nearly died in the Gulag before becoming chief designer of the Soviets’ rocket program. As the science inched forward, Walt Disney, Arthur C. Clarke, and Stanley Kubrick replaced Jules Verne as the inspirational forces that kept the public spending to put a man on the moon, and to keep the public ignorant of the alien bases already there.
All Up is unique in several ways. Although it reads like pure history, it deviates into some rather fanciful realms. Mr. Rinzler has done an enormous amount of research and compiled it into an enormous book. All Up exceeds 210,000 words. The depth of the coverage of the topic is profound. This is a very descriptive book—sometimes excessively. The endless description of people smoking did get tiresome and its omission might have cut twenty thousand words. I realize it was a sign of the times, but the modern reader might prefer to ignore it. The characters, and there are many of them, are amazingly well developed. The author shows prodigious skill in maintaining continuity in his characters throughout the great length of the story. The episode dealing with Apollo 11 was extraordinarily well done. Despite being certain of the outcome, it had me on the edge of my chair. I have to say frankly, the book should have ended there. The wrap-up after the moon landing was a little anticlimactic, although relatively brief. The other unconventional aspect of All Up is its complete disregard for that bugbear of editors, viewpoint. There are myriad viewpoints in this book. Having candidly revealed my issues with it, I enjoyed it very much, obviously, or I would never have waded through nine hundred pages.
TLDR; an interesting read, but it meanders and focuses on the wrong people. Read it if you're into alternative history and light hearted conspiracy theories, but don't expect much from the characters.
I liked it, I found it entertaining, but I took away two stars for a couple of issues.
1st: The story is all over the place. It jumps around between characters and there is little in the way of a coherent plot. Of what little plot there is, the main plot is only mildly interesting.
2nd: The character that Rinzler chooses to follow is Wernher von Braun, rocket engineer of V2 and Apollo fame. This is a poor choice in a couple of respects. The author doesn't hold back on the appalling nature and condition of the forced labor at the mittelwork and Peenemünde, but at the same time he shows von Braun recognizing the atrocities for what they are while being largely dismissive of them as being a necessary evil to complete his work. I don't know how we the reader are supposed to ignore this while also reading about von Braun as though hes the protagonist. Sure he was vital America's winning the space race, but the way he apparently ignored the brutality and suffering that took place under his watch while having parties with his staff and getting hopped up on what I assume was amphetamines "to stay sharp" is appalling. I couldn't keep reading about him without constantly being reminded that the guy chose to allow pure evil to thrive in support of his work, to taint it for expediency, rather than choosing to resist. Sure he might have been shot for it, but at least he would have died knowing he stood up against the Nazis, which he also recognized as evil. He represents the worst kind of "the ends justify the means" mentality present in the Nazi regime.
A better choice would have been to not meander so much and follow the character of Rachel. She is by far the most interesting and intriguing character. It is a shame that we only see snippets of her adventure, if the book had been about Rachel and her struggle to fight the main villain, it would have been a far better book.
This is definitely a "your mileage may vary" sort of book.
Rinzler delights with a fantastic recount of mankind's race to space through the eyes of (mostly) Wernher von Braun... but with a twist!
And it's the twist that really separates this book from anything else, but at the same time, his major fault. The saucer/alien/hidden Nazi plot never lands, you are left to wonder if this was just added for fun or if he's preaching about some secret conspiracy, since it's always too little or too unexplained.
Anyhow, if you have the time, you should probably give it a try, especially if you're grateful for the author's non-fiction enormous resume.
This book has its issues for sure, its jumps around a lot, the actual fiction/writing side of it can be a bit lacking at times, its a bit long in the tooth, but its also big, ambitious, and should be of interest to any person who likes the historical periods it covers, the history of manned space flight or wants to read something with light sci-fi elements but isn't too crazy/out there!
Overall its one hell of a debut original novel and its a shame Rinzler is no longer with us!
This book takes a long time to get anywhere. I absolutely love the Space Race it should not have been a slog to get through this book but it was. Best parts were Sergei Korolev, Werner Von Braun was pretty boring.