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

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,283 ratings  ·  115 reviews
"In his exuberant narrative of the superpower space race . . . [Brzezinski] tells the story of American and Soviet decisions with remarkable dramatic—even cinematic—flair."—The New York Times Book Review

In Red Moon Rising, Matthew Brzezinski recounts the dramatic behind-the-scenes story of the fierce battles on earth that preceded and followed the launch of Sputnik on October 4, 1957.cinematic—flair."—The
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by Holt Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2007)
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Start your review of Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden Rivalries that Ignited the Space Age
On the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of the Sputnik satellite, Matthew Brzezinski took the time to write this comprehensive book about the entire experience, pulling on political and social perspectives to educate the curious reader. Brzezinski shows that this was far from being an isolated event, which helped to fuel the early years of Cold War weapons stockpiling, as well as sparking the race for space and how one might ‘colour the heavens’. As the dust was settling on the Second World Wa ...more
Brendan Monroe
All that you didn't know about the history of the Soviet/American space race. Really, I am surprised that there aren't more books about this rather major event in world history but, it seems to me anyway, that Matthew Brzezinski is one of the very first to put the extraordinary events leading up to America's entering the space age on paper.

The journey is a rather straightforward, but enjoyable, one. If it drags in parts - particular in the beginning - it's because a certain level of detail is p
Paul Chester
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it a lot. If you are interesting in geeking out over the intricacies of the early years of the Soviet and US ICBM and space programmes, then this is the book for you. If you are not, it definitely isn't!
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Sputnik changed the world. This is an extremely detailed look at the events that preceded its launch and the American response. While it covers 1956-58 in the most detail, it starts with the scramble for German technology and scientists in 1945. Then it alternately follows Sergei Korolev and the Soviet missile program and Werner Von Braun and the American missile program. To give us a full understanding of the era and the incredible achievements of the Soviets, he delves into the political, soc ...more
Feb 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As one who grew up during the raging years of the "Cold War" between the US and USSR, I was fascinated to read these insights into the foundation set during the early years of that standoff. The book covers a relatively brief period, about 1956-58, when the first artificial earth satellite (Sputnik) was launched by the Russians, up until the US launch of Explorer 1.

One fascinating aspect of this story was the relationship between development of military weapons (ICBM missiles that co
Michael Flanagan
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Coming into this book with little knowledge of the story of Sputnik I was not sure what I was going to find. What I got was a great story about the early years of the Cold War. The author goes to great length to give the reader a great sense of what it was like to live in these times.

From the end of World War II to the late 50's the story of Sputnik goes way beyond this watershed moment in history. Like a best-selling thriller the narrative is a delicate web of numerous stories all l
Denis Onichshenko
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great introduction to space race between United States and USSR during pre-NASA period. It starts from the end of WW2 and ends with the launch of first American satellite (Exploler 1-Juno). It's very light read, but because of that it's doesn't dive too deep into technological aspects of rocket building. As a history piece it does a little better describing hysteria of cold war and inter-agency rivalry in US, but again it's particularly detailed on those subjects. Overall I would recommend this ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. Perhaps it owes in part to the fact that I knew literally nothing about this time period in history or what exactly the space race meant in terms of politics and becoming a nuclear superpower. This was a fun way to open my eyes to the motivations behind some really amazing technology and a great jog into history with an informative and enjoyable author.
Mbogo J
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Halfway through this I had to pause and admonish myself for letting this book sit on my To read shelf for over two years each time losing to seemingly "worthy" books. Reading this reminded me that sometimes it becomes as clear as daybreak that the best use of your time is reading. We all have had those bad reading experiences where reading the book is migraine inducing, the content might not be your forte, the choice of words drab.... This book is the opposite of that.

It combines prose found in lit
Tanwen Cooper
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: touching-space
An absolutely brilliant book. The narrative covers the beginning of the space race: starting from the Nazi rocket scientists being pulled out of Germany after WWII and ending with the launch of the first US satellite.

I was expecting the book to be entirely about the Russian missile programme, but the book actually deals with both Soviet and US sides of things equally. It also delves into the world politics that shaped – and were shaped by – the Space Race. I knew virtually nothing ab
Bjarke Knudsen
A thrilling read. I previously read the more voluminous book Cold War published in the same series, and enjoyed it a lot. Hence, it was an obvious opportunity that arrived when I spotted this tome in a bargain bin. It took me a few weeks to get around to reading it, but once I did, I could not put it down. It is simply smashing. Well-written, impeccably researched, and with a very rational portrayal of both sides of the struggle. Brzezinski has done excellently with his portrayal of the power strug ...more
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A marvelous book that truly tells the story of the birth of the "space race" and the launching of the first satellites. This book also covers very deeply the development of the first rockets/missiles by the Soviet Union and the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy. It gets into the personalities and actions of the men who developed the missiles and ran the organizations that built them.
The inviting, the resistance, the sacrifices, the blunders and the great steps forward are all described.
Both si
Bill Conrad
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everybody knows about the space race. Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Werhner von Braun publically lead us to the moon. Well, what did the Russians do? Their part of the story hasn’t been fully covered by popular media. Matthew Brzezinski did an excellent job of clearly explaining the politics, people and the science behind the astounding Russian efforts.
The complex Russian space effort involved many players that had paranoia, extreme scientific hurdles and intense personalities. All of th
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
What a read that brings back many a memory, of course I was quite young, but the fear, anxiety was there. Matthew and his co-authors did a fantastic replay of the Space Age. Forward to the present day, one can only read back and still feel the defeat, trauma, that our nation suffered. The real pioneers were Korolov (USSR) and General Bruce Medaris (USA),- they were omitted in history books until Red Moon Rising. This work may anger certain establishments, i.e. the military, the political landsca ...more
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating account of the behind the scenes of the early space race. I enjoyed the fair treatment of the Eisenhower administration as well as the Soviet State under Kruschev. This book gives the story of Russia's great rocket designer, Sergei Korelev; who's identity was covered up for a long time. He may have been the spark that started the "Space Race" and all the changes that brought to our society. Overall I found this book both entertaining and enlightening. Would recommend to those inter ...more
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book offering an insider view of the Soviet space program. It also highlight the fits and starts of multiple territorial early US programs. Definitely recommend this as an easy read with tons of great geopolitical context.
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting look at how Soviet high politics and misinterpretations, combined with American bureaucracy and corruption lead to a brief period at which America lost its preeminent place in the sphere of soft power because most people believed the country had given up the mantle of hard power.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It was so interesting to read and learn about this time period. If you love learning about space and the space race, this book is for you. Trust me.
Jeff Fermi
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general
A well written Book, very informative, will definitely recommend it.
✨ m e g a n ✨
DNF due to the time constraints of the assignment and my own procrastination. This was moderately interesting, and it's a good source for the topic.
Super solid audiobook with a good reader.
Vincent Andersen
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating...beautifully detailed telling of the formative years of the space race.
Ken Hamner
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book about the history of the dawn of the space age in the context of the Cold War.
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a well-paced and entertaining non-fiction read, Matthew Brzezinski, a journalist whose works have appeared in The New York Times, The Economist, The Washington Post Magazine and LA Times, and as a staff reporter in Moscow and Kiev during the 90s for The Wall Street journal, has crafted a delightful and character driven narrative on the origins of the space race between the Soviet Union and United States during the mid and late 1950s in his third work of non-fiction from 2007, Red Moon Rising: ...more
Michael Elkon
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid, quick read. Brzezinski goes back and forth between the Americans and the Soviets in their attempts to put a man-made object into orbit. At times, the alternating chapters seemed forced, especially when the Soviets put Sputnik into orbit and there was no reason to come back to them thereafter. However, the structure generally works and it allows the reader to compare and contrast the two approaches.

My biggest takeaways as to how the US "lost" the space race are twofold. First
Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden Rivalries that Ignited the Space Age explores the political side for the beginning of the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Author Matthew Brzezinksi looks at the politicians and scientists that made space exploration possible for both countries. The book itself begins with a prologue in 1944 with the Nazis and ends on the cusp of the 1960 election. The epilogue covers the aftermath of the beginning for the Space Age and everything th ...more
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-cold-war
The "space race" was actually a byproduct of the "arms race" between the USA and USSR and had it's beginnings in Nazi Germany. In September 1944, Hitler's army began launching V-2 rockets, the world's first ballistic missiles, against Britain. And when the war ended the Americans and Soviets quickly spirited away any bit of this new technology they could find, including the scientists and engineers who had developed it.

But while America subsequently pursued a strategy of long-range bombers to d
Patrick Sprunger
File under: Never Judge A Book By Its Cover

As is often the case with histories of the space race, Red Moon Rising functions more as a compact history of the early Cold War - the period between 1956 and 1958 in particular. Matthew Brzezinski covers the US Capitol at mid-decade as well as some other books expressly dedicated to the goal. Less attention has been given to Khrushchev beyond the secret speech, the Camp David powwow, and the shoe slapping incident. Brzezinski fleshes out the gaps admirab
Brzezinski's purpose in writing this book is to inform all of the hidden projects that the Russians had during the cold war time. He explains all of the things that the Russian's created. I feel that this book is written for anyone with an interest in history, Russia, and space history.

There is no theme stated in the book. The theme that I get out of this story is that even if we were facing the Soviets they had a huge part in the space race. The Soviets started and worked throughout th
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am admittedly a bit biased, being a fan of space exploration since childhood, but this is a terrific book. It thoughtfully lays out the political underpinnings on both sides of the Cold War that detoured the race for the 1st effective ICBM into a race to put the first artificial satellite in orbit. Likewise, it exposes the technical hurdles and how each group sought to overcome them. It is amazing to consider that mere years after the invention of the transistor and a little over a decade afte ...more
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Matthew Brzezinski is a Polish-American writer. Matthew first worked as a journalist in Warsaw, writing for The New York Times and The Economist. He was a Wall Street Journal staff reporter in Moscow and Kiev in the late 1990s. Relocating to the US, he became a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, covering counter-terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11. His work has appeared in many ot ...more
“Few Westerners understand the post-Soviet soul like Lawrence Sheets. Whether it is his hair-raising stories of the region’s myriad armed conflicts or the black humor with which he captures the moral and physical impoverishment of a collapsing empire, Sheets brilliantly condenses twenty tumultuous years into an eminently readable tale.” 2 likes
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