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Sputnik : the shock of the century

Dickson, Paul.

New York : Walker Pub., 2001.

310 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.

On October 4, 1957, as Leave It to Beaver premiered on American television, the Soviet Union launched the space age. Sputnik, all of 184 pounds with only a radio transmitter inside its highly polished shell, became the first man-made object in space; while it immediately shocked the world, its long-term impact was even greater, for it profoundly changed the shape of the twentieth century.

In his upcoming book, Washington journalist Paul Dickson chronicles the dramatic events and developments leading up to and emanating from Sputnik's launch. Supported by groundbreaking, original research and many recently declassified documents, Sputnik offers a fascinating profile of the early American and Soviet space programs and a strikingly revised picture of the politics and personalities behind the facade of America's fledgling efforts to get into space.

Although Sputnik was unmanned, its story is intensely human. Sputnik owed its success to many people, from the earlier visionary, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, whose theories were ahead of their time, to the Soviet spokesmen strategically positioned around the world on the day the satellite was launched, who created one of the greatest public-relations events of all time. Its chief designer, however--the brilliant Sergei Korolev--remained a Soviet state secret until after his death.

Equally hidden from view was the political intrigue dominating America's early space program, as the military services jockeyed for control and identity in a peacetime world. For years, former Nazi Wernher von Braun, who ran the U.S. Army's missile program, lobbied incessantly that his Rocket Team should be handed responsibility for the first Earth-orbiting satellite. He was outraged that Sputnik beat him and America into space. For his part, President Eisenhower was secretly pleased that the Russians had launched first, because by orbiting over the United States Sputnik established the principle of "freedom of space" that could justify the spy satellites he thought essential to monitor Soviet missile buildup. As Dickson reveals, Eisenhower was, in fact, much more a master of the Sputnik crisis than he appeared to be at the time and in subsequent accounts.

The U.S. public reaction to Sputnik was monumental. In a single weekend, Americans were wrenched out of a mood of national smugness and post-war material comfort. Initial shock at and fear of the Soviets' intentions galvanized the country and swiftly prompted innovative developments that define our world today. Sputnik directly or indirectly influenced nearly every aspect of American life, from the demise of the suddenly superfluous tail fin and an immediate shift towards science in the classroom to the arms race that defined the cold war, the competition to reach the Moon, and the birth of the Internet.

By shedding new light on a pivotal era, Paul Dickson expands our knowledge of the world we now inhabit, and reminds us that the story of Sputnik goes far beyond technology and the beginning of the space age, and that its implications are still being felt today.


Non-fiction - JH & HSNon-fiction - JH & HS

1 copy available at Paideia School


0802713653 (alk. paper)

LC Call No:

TL796.5.S652 S664 2001

Dewey Class No:

629.46/0947 21


Dickson, Paul.


Sputnik : the shock of the century / Paul Dickson.


New York : Walker Pub., 2001.


310 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.


Includes bibliographical references (p. 276-293) and index.


Sputnik satellites--History.


Artificial satellites, Russian--Political aspects.


Astronautics and state--United States--Public opinion.


Table of contents

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020 ISBN   $a ISBN  0802713653 (alk. paper)
035 System Ctrl No   $a System control number  (DLC) 2001026156
040 Cataloging Src   $a Original cataloging agency  DLC
    $c Transcribing agency  DLC
    $d Modifying agency  DLC
042 Authentication   $a Authentication code  pcc
043 GAC   $a Geographic area code  e-ur---
    $a Geographic area code  n-us---
050 LC Call No 00  $a Classification number  TL796.5.S652
    $b Item number  S664 2001
082 Dewey Class No 00  $a Classification number  629.46/0947
    $2 Edition number  21
100 ME:PersonalName 1   $a Personal name  Dickson, Paul.
245 Title 10  $a Title  Sputnik :
    $b Remainder of title  the shock of the century /
    $c Statement of responsibility  Paul Dickson.
260 PublicationInfo   $a Place of publication, dist.  New York :
    $b Name of publisher, dist, etc  Walker Pub.,
    $c Date of publication, dist, etc  2001.
300 Physical Desc   $a Extent  310 p. :
    $b Other physical details  ill. ;
    $c Dimensions  25 cm.
504 BibliogrphyNote   $a Bibliography, etc. note  Includes bibliographical references (p. 276-293) and index.
650 Subj:Topic $a Topical term  Sputnik satellites
    $x General subdivision  History.
650 Subj:Topic $a Topical term  Artificial satellites, Russian
    $x General subdivision  Political aspects.
650 Subj:Topic $a Topical term  Astronautics and state
    $z Geographic subdivision  United States
    $x General subdivision  Public opinion.
651 Subj:Geog $a Geographic name  United States
    $x General subdivision  Politics and government
    $y Chronological subdivision  20th century.
852 Holdings 1   $h Classification part  629.46 Dic
    $i Item part  Dic
    $p Barcode  83995
    $9 Cost  $28.00
    $a Location  PS
856 ElectronicLocat 41  $3 Materials specified  Table of contents
    $u Uniform Resource Identifier
961 wl  $t   12

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