Author and bookseller Amy Cherrix's In the Shadow of the Moon is an arresting exploration of the Cold War space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. She focuses on two brilliant, driven engineers with unbridled ambitions to send humans into space and willing to do anything to achieve the goal.
Wernher von Braun, "the Nazis' genius rocket designer," developed the rocket that would launch the U.S. space program. The knowledge that built the V-2 was also von Braun's escape from prosecution for war crimes and his ticket into the United States. When Stalin learned von Braun was in the United States, he worried the U.S. would have the expertise and resources to attack the U.S.S.R. Stalin contacted Sergei Korolev, a gifted engineer whom Stalin had (wrongly) accused of treason, and offered him a job working on a rocket that could reach North America. Both von Braun and Korolev had dreams of creating something greater than military weaponry, and the paranoia and competition of the Cold War provided the perfect atmosphere to take both men's aspirations to the moon.
Cherrix (Backyard Bears) presents the race with suspense and intrigue, exposing both sides' skeletons, carefully handling some of the more gruesome secrets that made the accomplishments possible. Her author's note is an exquisite ending to an exceptional account: "Can good works and world-changing achievements that advance science absolve a person from complicity in horrific crimes?" Cherrix offers the facts; readers are left to render a verdict. --Jen Forbus, freelancer