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

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,395 ratings  ·  123 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 Octo
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
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read-2021
Beginning with Russians and Americans scrambling to obtain as much German technology and as many German scientists as they can scrounge up in the dying days of WWII, this was a fascinating, very detailed look at the earliest days of the space race - and the simultaneous arms race that made it possible. Most histories of the space age that I've read tended to start rather than end with the first satellites launched into orbit and were, for the most part, largely concentrated on the American effor ...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 could deliver
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! ...more
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
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 linking to de
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.
This book covers the political situation both in the Soviet Union and the United States during the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite in 1957. I’ve always been fascinated by space and even considered taking astronomy major during my last year in high school, but little did I know that there’s this complicated political intrigues behind the launch of Sputnik. And the technology behind that could be traced back to the V-2 rocket developed in Nazi Germany by the rocket scientist Wern ...more
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
Kursad Albayraktaroglu
A meticulously researched, very comprehensive and fascinating history of the first artificial satellite (Sputnik I) ; "Red Moon Rising" covers an important period starting with the transfer of V-2 technology and culminating with the launch of Explorer - America's response to Sputnik. Matthew Brzezinski did a masterful job in giving enough technical details to keep the technically-oriented readers engaged, while emphasizing the intricate political games and power struggles in both Soviet Union a ...more
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 about the Cold
Sergei Pavlovich Korolev ought to be one of the most famous men of the entire 20th century. He was certainly one of the most influential. Without him, there would’ve been no Sputnik and without Sputnik, the American space program would have been much less than it was. There probably would’ve been no moon landing in 1969 and no NASA. Who knows what the history of modern space exploration would have looked like. We’d probably be decades behind where we are.

It’s understandable if you’ve never heard
Daniel Sapier
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-years
A political, rather than a scientific narrative
Whilst Brzezinski is to be commended for the extent of research into the events of 1956 to 1958, I would hesitate to recommend this to a casual historian with an interest in the space race.

The prologue opens towards the end of 1944 with the launch of a V-2 rocket from Nazi Germany. This fantastically written opening set my expectations very high, but on the whole, Red Moon Rising failed to maintain that excitement. The eleven chapters that follow tr
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 st ...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 sides are cove
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 their wo
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
Jack Hwang
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written about the very beginning of the Space Race. What makes this book different from the other similar books is a perfect mix of the depressing failures, high wishes, wild imagination, cut-throat power struggles, lack of foresight, wrong estimates, and it tells very very good stories of both sides.
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.
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.
George Vitchev
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written and easy to follow. It goes into detail on the events that drove the space race from political and economic view. The people involved are examined in great depth and what made them succeed. Technical aspects are explained but it is more historical.
Jeff Kim
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well written Book, very informative, will definitely recommend it.
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.
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.
✨ 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. ...more
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.
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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

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“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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