Written by veteran aerospace journalist Bob Ward, who spent years investigating his subject, the father of modern rocketry, this biography presents a revealing but even-handed portrait of the one-time Nazi Party member who brought the United States into the Space Age. As he chronicles Werner von Braun's life, Ward explodes many myths and misconceptions about the controversial genius who was a hero to some, a villain to others.
From the young German aristocrat's leadership role in the development of the world's first ballistic missile-the infamous V-2 rocket used against the Allies during the invasion of Europe in World War II-to his successes in the United States after the war- helping to launch the first U.S. satellite that hurled Americans into space and the Saturn V super-booster that powered them to the moon, a picture of von Braun emerges as a brilliant scientist with limitless curiosity and a drive to achieve his goals at almost any price.
Yet the author's lengthy research reveals that the apolitical von Braun accepted nominal Party membership and an essentially honorary SS commission only under heavy pressure, and that his connections to the notorious V-2 slave labour factory were largely peripheral.
Along the way readers are introduced to the human side of this charismatic visionary who brought the United States into the Space Age. Including insights and recollections from a number of von Braun's celebrity friends-Walter Cronkite, Hugh Downs, and William Pickering among them-this is a book certain to appeal to both von Braun's admirers and detractors.