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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

“Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream” by Tanya Lee Stone

“Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream” by Tanya Lee Stone is a remarkable book. It goes deep into the history and politics of the first women in space. Unbeknownst from what the title may suggest, this book is not some simple biography. On the contrary, it is a livid account of women who supported each other.

Starting out in the sixties [with the Race for Space], it is documented how the United States government pushed space travel. In fact, they practically exonerated the male astronauts who one-upped the Russians. When Jerrie Cobb wanted to go into space as well, she was met with discrimination. Even after completing many astronautical training tests (which Stone describes perfectly) better than males, she was still denied into space.

Trying to start up a space program for women, Cobb and Lovelace gathered together twelve other women. Unfortunately, the women did not get to complete the necessary requirements for space travel due to certain laws and even female opposition. This major stumbling-block is expounded on very clearly in the book. All political pretexts are also accounted for as Stone comprehensively accounts a twisted story of betrayal.

Each of the Mercury 13 is noted, as their lives intertwine; the book even sums up what they are up to currently at the end. This book is as scientific as it is feminist. The male-dominated era of the sixties is unveiled, as extraterrestrial training is elucidated to a tee. Famous names pop up, too, along with surprising facts--Who knew John Glenn was against women in space and Johnson feared that letting women into space would open the door for minorities, too?

Filled with livid pictures and captions, readers literally go on an adventure reading this book. The chapters are easy to comprehend yet not too simple as to make the reader ever want to put the book down. It is a very inspirational book for women, science extraordinaires, and anyone who dares to dream the impossible.

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