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Book News

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.

Nations reach to space
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.

Ann Hastings taught history for three years before joining CNN NewsSource as an archivist.

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