For a very brief moment during the 1960s, America was moonstruck. Every boy dreamed of being an astronaut; every girl dreamed of marrying one. But despite the best efforts of a generation of scientists, the almost foolhardy heroics of the astronauts, and 35 billion dollars, the moon turned out to be a place of 'magnificent desolation', to use Buzz Aldrin's words - a sterile rock of no purpose to anyone. In Dark Side of the Moon, Gerard DeGroot reveals how NASA cashed in on the Americans' thirst for heroes in an age of discontent and became obsessed with putting men in space. Landing on the moon, it was argued, would be good for the economy, for politics, and for the soul. It could even win the Cold War. Drawing on meticulous archival research, DeGroot cuts through the myths constructed by the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson administrations and sustained by NASA ever since and exposes the truth behind one of the most revered fictions of American history.
Born in California, Gerard DeGroot is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews. He has written ten books on various aspects of twentieth-century history, most recently The Bomb- A Life, a history of nuclear weapons which won the 2004 RUSI Westminster Medal for Military Literature. He regularily contributes to national newspapers both in Britain and in the USA.