Apollo’s Legacy: Perspectives on the Moon Landings

Smithsonian. May 2019. 264p. bibliog. index. notes. photos. Tr $27.95. ISBN 9781588346490.
Gr 10 Up–Launius, former associate director of collections and curatorial affairs at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and previously chief historian for NASA, presents a nuanced and balanced exploration of the Apollo program and its influence on modern American society, politics, and cultural identity. Each aspect of the program, from Kennedy’s announcement and the technology created to the influence of lunar photography, is analyzed from positive and negative reactions at the time, the dominant narrative that emerged, and the fringe viewpoints. Throughout the book, Launius describes references to Apollo found in political cartoons, movies, TV shows, and other media to illustrate the prevalence of the moon landing in popular culture and how the various perceptions of the mission have endured or changed over time. Each chapter is relatively self contained, reading like an essay centered around a theme. If an example is used in more than one chapter, such as the film Apollo 13 in “The Most Powerful Technology Ever Conceived” and “Apollo and the Religion of Spaceflight,” brief context is provided. This makes individual chapters suitable for classroom use but makes reading the overall work feel repetitive. Back matter includes notes, an annotated bibliography, and index.
VERDICT An excellent resource, recommended for classroom use and most high school libraries

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