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Distributed for Reaktion Books

The Greatest Adventure

A History of Human Space Exploration

The Greatest Adventure explores the past, present, and future of the space race.
The space race was perhaps the greatest technological contest of the twentieth century. It was a thrilling era of innovation, discovery, and exploration, as astronauts and cosmonauts were launched on space missions of increasing length, complexity, and danger. The Greatest Adventure traces the events of this extraordinary period, describing the initial string of Soviet achievements: the first satellite in orbit; the first animal, man, and woman in space; the first spacewalk; as well as the ultimate US victory in the race to land on the moon. The book then takes the reader on a journey through the following decades of space exploration to the present time, detailing the many successes, tragedies, risks, and rewards of space exploration.

368 pages | 138 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4


History: History of Technology

History of Science

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"Each and every NASA mission in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs [is] described in detail loving enough to thrill space nerds of all ages. . . . Burgess tells the subsequent tales of crewed spaceflight on both sides of the Iron Curtain with great verve, and a suspenseful narration of unheralded near-disasters. Gagarin’s spacecraft, for instance, only just avoided burning up on reentry, as did John Glenn’s Friendship 7 craft on an early Mercury mission. There’s a nail-biting story of one cosmonaut whose suit ballooned and nearly prevented him from getting back through the airlock."

Guardian, "Book of the Week"

"From the initial string of Soviet achievements to the ultimate US victory in the race to land on the Moon, a history of space exploration, detailing its many successes, tragedies, risks and rewards."


"Those well-versed in human spaceflight will find it an enjoyable read, uncovering new details that the author has packed into the book. Equally, if you are new to this topic, the book provides a wonderful overview of space exploration. . . . The Greatest Adventure provides an excellent springboard. . . . It's an all-round good read."

BBC Sky at Night Magazine

“A fresh, crisp, and insightful chronicle. Burgess wings the reader through humankind’s initial, sometimes faltering, journeys into outer space; and our first footprints on another world. But these were just the start. Strap in! From these beginnings mankind personally touches the Kosmos in its Greatest Adventure.”

Charles D. Walker, engineer, corporate executive, and first commercial industry astronaut on Space Shuttle missions STS-41D, STS-51D, and STS-61B

“Burgess has contributed to the library of space history something it has sorely lacked. When people ask what the one book is that they should read to learn about human space exploration, I now know exactly where to send them. This engaging, comprehensive history covers everything from the early days of rocketry to a new era of exploration that is dawning this very moment.”

David Hitt, coauthor of "Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story"

“This journey through the thrilling decades of human spaceflight chronicles the highlights of exploration, with all of its triumphs and tragedies. It's an engaging read, perfect for those who have never read a space book before and want to know what humankind has accomplished out in the void.”

Francis French, coauthor of "In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility, 1965–1969"

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