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Look Inside The Red Rockets' Glare

The Red Rockets' Glare
Spaceflight and the Russian Imagination, 1857–1957

Part of Cambridge Centennial of Flight

  • Date Published: February 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107639324


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About the Authors
  • The Red Rockets' Glare is the first academic study on the birth of the Soviet space program and one of the first social histories of Soviet science. Based on many years of archival research, the book situates the birth of cosmic enthusiasm within the social and cultural upheavals of Russian and Soviet history. Asif A. Siddiqi frames the origins of Sputnik by bridging imagination with engineering - seeing them not as dialectic, discrete, and sequential but as mutable, intertwined, and concurrent. Imagination and engineering not only fed each other but were also co-produced by key actors who maintained a delicate line between secret work on rockets (which interested the military) and public prognostications on the cosmos (which captivated the populace). Sputnik, he argues, was the outcome of both large-scale state imperatives to harness science and technology and populist phenomena that frequently owed little to the whims and needs of the state apparatus.

    • The first academic work to use declassified archival sources to revisit the birth of the Soviet space program and, particularly, the origins of the Sputnik satellite
    • Situates the origins of the Soviet space program in the social and cultural upheavals of 20th-century Russia
    • Takes a unique approach to the history of science by connecting Soviet cultural enthusiasm for the cosmos with engineering work to build rockets, and by showing how the two processes were inseparable
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Asif Siddiqi, who has already written the best books on the Soviet space effort, has now given us a wonderful exploration of the social and cultural dimensions of this effort; he has given voice to those on the periphery: the populist phenomena of utopian ideas and popular imagination.' Loren Graham, MIT and Harvard University

    'This is an excellent book. Examining the roots of Soviet success in space exploration, Asif Siddiqi writes about Konstantin Tsiolkovski - a humble Russian schoolteacher who became one of the greatest dreamers in the world and changed it forever. Siddiqi writes about people who paved the road in space - the bumpy road through Stalin's GULAG toward worldwide recognition. This is the story of people who made history.' Sergei Khrushchev, Brown University

    'Asif Siddiqi's book is a pathbreaking work in the history of rocketry and spaceflight and the history of Soviet science and technology. Superbly written and based on fundamentally new archival research, The Red Rockets' Glare illuminates the complex origins of spaceflight enthusiasm in Russia and the USSR in the century before the launch of Sputnik. It is destined to become the classic work on the origin of the Soviet space program.' Michael J. Neufeld, Smithsonian Institution

    'Asif Siddiqi is to be commended for gathering such an impressive array of secondary sources, memoirs, and newly discovered archival materials to describe the origins and evolution of the Soviet rocketry program. This is an innovative and significant contribution to both Russian history and the history of spaceflight.' Scott Palmer, Western Illinois University

    '… full of minute but fascinating detail … easy to read.' Spaceflight

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107639324
    • length: 418 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.61kg
    • contains: 33 b/w illus. 1 map 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. A space for science and a science for space
    2. 'Grief and genius'
    3. Imagining the cosmos
    4. Local action, state imperatives
    5. 'All of this requires investigation'
    6. Russians in Germany
    7. Cold War and the creation of the Soviet ICBM
    8. Fellow travelers
    9. Launching Sputnik

  • Author

    Asif A. Siddiqi, Fordham University, New York
    Asif A. Siddiqi is an Assistant Professor of History at Fordham University. He specializes in the social and cultural history of modern Russia and the history of science and technology. His work has been supported by the American Historical Association, the Smithsonian Institution, the Social Science Research Council, the National Science Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His prior book, Challenge to Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race, 1945–1974 (2000), received a number of awards including a citation by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best books ever written on space exploration. He received his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University and currently lives in New York.

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