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A classic examination of the Space Age
'This New Ocean'
by William E. Burrows
Random House, $34.95
Review by Ann Hastings
(CNN) -- All people can be placed in two distinct groups; word people and
number people. You instantly know which group holds your membership
card. A word person gravitates toward language and books. For you,
reading comprehension is a snap. A number person understands the
concept of science and shows no fear when facing math problems. These
two groups coexist and silently thank a higher power that the "other"
side is there to make sense of that "other" stuff.
Well, everyone rejoice! Here is a book that word people will love for
its comprehensive and eloquent explanation of the Space Age. Number
people will jump for joy over the subject matter and the author's
exhaustive attention to all scientific details. Everyone can be happy and not fear the "other" side, because William E.
Burrows has written a classic history and examination of the Space Age, providing readers with a sense of wonderment at the
accomplishments that humans have so far achieved.
Burrows has taken on a daunting task; to explain man's fascination
with space and man's attempt to defy gravity. If you ever wondered
about space and how in the heck we left the Earth's gravitational
pull, Burrows explains the inspiration, motivation, and suffering it
took to do it.
Word people will love Burrows' examination of myth and literature as
inspiration for scientists to actually attempt what had already
succeeded in fiction. He uses the example of Icarus to illustrate the
earliest idea of test pilots and mission plans. "Icarus was lost at
sea because he abandoned the flight plan, and as scriptwriters would
put it many centuries later (however erroneously), left his wingman."
Number people will love the evidence the author uses from the former
Soviet Union to examine just what was happening on the other side of
the Iron Curtain. The book covers man's earliest documented thoughts
on space up to Mar's Pathfinder. The journey is fascinating.
All "word" people, please read this book; don't let the science subject
matter scare you away. Take this book to your nearest "number" friend to give it a try. This examination of the Space Age will be a classic. To all those people who yawn at a
shuttle launch because it has become "mundane" read this book and
thank your lucky stars for William E. Burrows.
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Ann Hastings taught history for three years before joining CNN NewsSource as an archivist.