Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom

Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom (Paperback [Revised and Expanded])

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 Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom
Revised and Expanded
Purdue University Press
6.00" x 9.00"

Book Description

Unlike other American astronauts, Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom never had the chance to publish his memoirs—save for an account of his role in the Gemini program—before the tragic launch pad fire on January 27, 1967, which took his life and those of Edward White and Roger Chaffee. The international prestige of winning the Moon Race cannot be understated, and Grissom played a pivotal and enduring role in securing that legacy for the United States. Indeed, Grissom was first and foremost a Cold Warrior, a member of the first group of Mercury astronauts whose goal it was to beat the Soviet Union to the moon. Drawing on extensive interviews with fellow astronauts, NASA engineers, family members, and friends of Gus Grissom, George Leopold delivers a comprehensive survey of Grissom's life that places his career in the context of the Cold War and the history of human spaceflight. Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom adds significantly to our understanding of that tumultuous period in American history.


Book Reviews

The Wall Street Journal

“George Leopold's Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom rescues its subject's reputation by presenting his life and career in full. The book is fascinating and haunting, and its impressive research exonerates Grissom from the charge of being a hapless astronaut who, in his peers' parlance, ‘screwed the pooch’ . . . thrillingly told, taking readers into the cosmos with Grissom, conveying the sense of wonder and danger that accompanied these early voyages.”

Jerry Ross, Astronaut and Author of Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA’s Record-Setting Frequent Flyer

"On July 21, 1961, in the middle of a family vacation, my parents stopped to let me watch Gus Grissom’s historic fifteen-minute mission in Liberty Bell 7, the second manned Project Mercury flight. At thirteen, I was already very excited about space exploration. I could only imagine that someday I might follow in the footsteps of my hero who was born at the opposite end of the state from my northern Indiana home. Gus Grissom came from a rural, hardworking background just like me, and my later path mirrored his as I earned mechanical engineering degrees from Purdue University and went on to fly with the US Air Force and then NASA. We both pursued bold dreams. Through grit and determination, Grissom rose from the pastoral Midwest to achieve those dreams, his life ending tragically while Gus was still in his prime. 
     George Leopold’s well-researched and inspiring biography of Grissom details an imperfect man willing to risk his life for a chance to explore the unknown. This book is a must-read for every space enthusiast."  

Lee H. Hamilton, Former Indiana Congressman, Vice Chairman of the 9/11 Commission and Distinguished Scholar with the School of Global and International Studies at Indiana University

 “Gus Grissom was one of the original seven astronauts. A few of us can still remember the impact they had on our nation, and the pride we took in their extraordinary and exciting achievements. They lifted us all and made us proud to be an American. Gus Grissom radiated a quiet, determined competence in all that he did. He understood and accepted the danger of his job but also knew its immense value to our knowledge and understanding of the planet we all inhabit. This readable and compelling biography superbly relates the life of this proud son of Indiana and America.”


Francis French, Director of Education, San Diego Air & Space Museum

Calculated Risk fills an important space history gap. Most books covering the Apollo 1 fire—a turning point in the Cold War and the Space Race in many ways—get a lot of detail wrong. This book is one of the best ever written on it in terms of accuracy.”

About the Author(s):

George Leopold is a veteran technology journalist and science writer who has covered the nexus between technology and policy for over thirty years. Leopold has written extensively about U.S. manned spaceflight, including the Apollo and space shuttle programs. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the New Scientist, and a variety of other science and technology publications. He resides in Reston, Virginia.