Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Moon: Science, History and Mystery by Stewart Ross
It is the inspiration of poets and lovers. It is both the symbol of light overcoming darkness and the patron goddess of the dark and deadly hunt. It is always there, the icon of constancy itself, but one that is ever changing. Its face is as familiar as our own, but it has a dark side few have known. It is both the outermost point of tool-making man's reach and part of the ebb and flow of our innermost physical self, an intrinsic part of the cycle of life.
It is, of course, Earth's one and only Moon.
Stewart Ross's Moon: Science, History, And Mystery (Oxford University Press/Scholastic,) takes on this wonderful object of man's searching nature on the fortieth anniversary of the first manned moon mission. But this book is not solely a recounting of that familiar event. As Ross says in his introduction...
The Eagle did not land against a purely scientific backdrop. Since the beginning of time, humans have been in awe of the Moon, worshipping it, painting it, writing about it, and even howling to it. Throughout history and prehistory, there has been no more powerful influence on our culture.
Therein lies the wonder of Apollo 11. It was not simply a scientific triumph or human achievement. Rather it was a manifestation of the human spirit in all its bewildering glory.
To do justice to our moon's place in both our human and scientific history, Ross divides his narrative into parallel chapters, beginning with the actual day of the first manned landing as the watching world saw it, from the first announcement of "We have lift off!" to the epic broadcast of the first day's events. Additional chapters continue the story of manned flight to the completion of the moon excursions and the final Apollo splashdown on Earth.
Alternating with his retelling of the history of space flight--from the German V-2 through the space race to the thirteen Apollo missions--Ross also gives the reader a sense of ancient creation tales, diverse mythologies, common and uncommon superstitions, and the long history of man's search for scientific fact about our near neighbor, from the Sumerian astronomers through Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton to modern probes and missions and our plans for future moon expeditions and study.
Illustrated lavishly with historic prints, paintings, and sumptuous photographs, dotted with quotations and eye-catching text boxes, and backed up with ample appendices, Moon: Science, History, And Mystery is a journey in itself, a beautifully diverse collection of eye candy, an easy-going science book, and a glorious compendium of human history and culture shaped by the moon. Middle and young adult readers can use it as a straightforward history of the the space program which culminated in the first moon landing or as a narrative which puts that signal event in perspective within its human roots in prehistory, myth, and imagination.