Beyond: The Astonishing Story of the First Human to Leave Our Planet and Journey into Space
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The riveting story of the space race, shining a new light on the astonishing, secret, life-and-death story of the Russian efforts to beat out NASA and win a place in human history. When we think of the space race, it's often the story of NASA, Neil Armstrong, and an American flag... on the moon that comes to mind. This is the story of the USSR and USA race to get the first man into space - a race the Russians won - told in the full, fascinating context of the raging Cold War. The American and Russian approaches to space travel were wildly different. While the American Mercury astronauts became instant celebrities, a world of lucrative magazine deals and luxury, the Soviet cosmonauts slept in the shared dormitories of a hidden compound in Kazakh desert. The day Yuri Gagarin was strapped into space capsule, taking the seat usually reserved for a three-megaton bomb, his wife, children and mother were asleep with no idea what he was about to do. If the rocket went wrong, he would likely die a gruesome, slow death. If it went right, he would become the first human in history to travel through outer space - a triumph the Russians were desperate to get over NASA, whose first flight was scheduled a few weeks later. This is the thrilling story that unpacks secrets and deaths hidden for decades, the hushed KGB input, the enormous risks, how exactly the Russians outfoxed the USA, and all the wonder of this monumental human achievement. It also sets the space race in its political context: as a crucial, public battle between the world's two superpowers, both fighting for Cold War victory, international power, and dominance on the extra-terrestrial plane.