The Wrong Stuff: How the Soviet Space Program Crashed and Burned

PublicAffairs: Perseus. Jun. 2024. 272p. ISBN 9781541703346. $30. HIST
Strausbaugh (Victory City) writes about the foibles, successes, and origins of the Soviet Space program after World War II. That’s when the Soviet Union, while victorious over the German army, was in disarray after 27 million soldiers were killed during the war. Amid that tumultuous historical period, engineers and politicians developed the Soviet space program. Strausbaugh’s book begins with the story of the flight of Voskhod 1 (also known as Sunshine 1), the first spaceflight that carried more than one crewmember into orbit; three men were aboard that spacecraft. The story of that flight and the political implications behind it will give readers a sense of just how much innovation was present in the Soviet Union during that time. Some audiences might be turned off by the caustic and glib tone that sometimes pervades the book, but the power of the material wins out and makes for fascinating reading.
VERDICT Recommended for general readers who enjoy books about spaceflight, engineering innovations, and the politics of engineering.
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