Thursday, January 21, 2010

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone

“Their original group was thirteen. [...]
It was 1969 when they took their shot at being astronauts. Back then, women weren’t allowed to rent a car or take out a loan from the bank without a man’s signature; they could not play on a professional sports team at all. They couldn’t report the news on television or run in a city marathon or serve as police officers. They weren’t allowed to fly jets, either. And these are just some of the bigger examples.
None of that kept these women from trying to be astronauts. They were too determined. Every single one of them shared a common dream from the time they were little girls: they were all born to fly.” (2-5)

Tanya Lee Stone’s phenomenal and engaging new book Almost Astronauts tells the story of the Mercury 13 women, who were trailblazers in the same manner as Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride and the WASPS. Jerri Cobb was the first, undergoing three phases of astronaut testing to prove that women were capble of withstanding space travel. Twelve more women followed, making thirteen total. Although Stone writes that the women were “never part of the Mercury space program,” they underwent the same tests as the male pilots, many times surpassing their results, and quite often had more experience flying then their male counterparts. When the news became public however, NASA, the navy, the government, and even other female pilots became vocal about the impossibility of these women ever becoming female astronauts, called by the media “Astronettes.” It’s disheartening that although many of these women went on to continue careers in aviation, not one of the original 13 made it into space. The story is placed in context of the time, bringing to light what the women had to endure in the face of insurmountable prejudices. The book includes an author’s note, appendix, further reading, webliography, bibliography including books, articles, documents, and videos, source notes, photography credits, and an index, making it a well researched, well cited, and award winning book.


1 comment:

Lisa at Wanderlust Women said...

Thanks for the post on this book. As someone always fascinated with the space program.......I will definitely add it to my to-do list.