On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first person in history to leave the Earth's atmosphere and venture into space. His flight aboard a Russian Vostok rocket lasted only 108 minutes, but at the end of it he had become the most famous man in the world. Back on the ground, his smiling face captured the hearts of millions around the globe. Film stars, politicians and pop stars from Europe to Japan, India to the United States vied with each other to shake his hand.
Despite this immense fame, almost nothing is known about Gagarin or the exceptional people behind his dramatic space flight. Starman tells for the first time Gagarin's personal odyssey from peasant to international icon, his subsequent decline as his personal life began to disintegrate under the pressures of fame, and his final disillusionment with the Russian state. President Kennedy's quest to put an American on the Moon was a direct reaction to Gagarin's achievement--yet before that successful moonshot occurred, Gagarin himself was dead, aged just thirty-four, killed in a mysterious air crash. Publicly the Soviet hierarchy mourned; privately their sighs of relief were almost audible, and the KGB report into his death remains secret.
Entwined with Gagarin's history is that of the breathtaking and highly secretive Russian space program - its technological daring, its triumphs and disasters. In a gripping account, Jamie Doran and Piers Bizony reveal the astonishing world behind the scenes of the first great space spectacular, and how Gagarin's flight came frighteningly close to destruction.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I had first heard about this book through watching the associated BBC TV program in a short series called "Reputations". It examined the myths and realities behind the personalities of some of the world's best-known figures. The book turns out to be an eye-opening account of a quite ordinary man, fated to be feted the world over for having achieved the world's first (and, indeed, shortest) orbital flight by a human being, only to find himself unable to live the life expected of him - as well as the victim of utter jealousy within the highest levels of the Kremlin in the USSR in the 1960s.
Gagarin had no pedigree whatsoever, yet the distinct lack of it made him perfect for the Communist idea that anyone, no matter how humble, had the opportunity to rise to new heights (in his case, quite literally, albeit briefly) within a so-called egalitarian society, which, as the First Cosmonaut (as he was known) found out to his cost, was nothing of the kind.
An American edition has been released, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's flight, and some sections of the book have ignited a media firestorm that has even upset the Russians as they prepare to honor Gagarin.
But the flap is peripheral to the book itself, which I found to be a well researched and well written treatment of one human being who was the focal point of humanity's breakout into space. I wholeheartedly recommend it for yourself or family members with even only a vague interest in the subject.
The authors bring up some new material from recently published memoirs from people who have yet to be accepted by space historians [including myself], and perhaps that reluctance is prudent -- time will tell, since there are still deep secrets in Moscow archives that we are not allowed to see, that could knock our socks off. This controversial material of profoundly uncertain reliability is treated fairly by the authors and cautious readers will...
As a boy, I was shocked by the news that the Soviets put a man in space first. It took a generation to understand the brave audacity of what Yuri Gagarin accomplished not just for his mother Russia, but for the whole world. What I found fascinating about Starman was how a young peasant boy from rural Russia could become a hero to people around the world. Gagarin's optimism allowed him to triumph over any fears or shortcomings that he might have had, and win over the world with his smile.
What was so amazing and sad was how Yuri Gagarin was treated in the years following his epic first flight into space. Too much of a national treasure to be risked for further flights, he became a toy of Soviet propaganda. Yet Gagarin risked all that he had gained to confront Leonid Brezhnev and the Soviet Politburo leaders with the dangers they put other Russian cosmonauts under to fulfill impossible obligations, one that cost the life of fellow cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov with the launch of...
The authorised South African distributor of this product is under no obligation to honour the manufacture's guarantees/warranties or to provide after-sales service.
Please note that this item is imported from the USA, and is designed to be used in the USA. In addition, if the unit is powered it will come with a US plug and an adapter/transformer may be required. Please click here for more information on power requirements, or check with us if you are unsure or need any assistance!
Please also note that certain items cannot be imported, these include Alcohol, Animals, Batteries, Flammable Materials, Currency, Food, Furs, Chemicals, Explosives, Medications, Plants, Seeds, Supplements, Pressurized Cans, Tactical Equipment, Vitamins, Weaponry and Weaponry Accessories. In these cases, the item and information is displayed for reference purposes only. If you are not sure if we are permitted to bring an item, please send us an e-mail with a link to the item to confirm.
Please also ensure that you are ordering the correct item for your particular application as returns to the USA are costly. Product reviews are also provided for most of our items, which can give you a good idea for possible things to look out for and the quality of the item. By clicking Add to Cart, you are confirming that the item is correct and you accept the conditions listed here.