Monday, August 22, 2016

Recently Read: The Astronaut Wives Club

Author: Lilly Koppel
Genre: Nonfiction
Publication Date: 2013
Page Count: 265
Rating: 3/5

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With the creation of NASA and the first astronauts in 1950s America in the midst of the Space Race, came the first astronaut's wives. The wives of the Mercury Seven became the focus of the media and the nation right alongside their husbands, and the title became a full-time job. Koppel tells the story of the wives of America's final frontier explorers, highlighting the often over-looked contributors to the Space Race.

This book has been on my radar and my shelves for a while, but I just decided to pick it up on a whim the other day. Space exploration is a subject that I don't really know a lot about, but I'm always interested in hearing the untold stories of women throughout history, so this book caught my attention. This was recently made into a T.V. show in the U.S. that was canceled after one season, which is a shame. After reading the book, I think this is a topic I would love to see a show on, but you know, majority female cast shows have to meet much higher ratings than other shows in order to stay on the air.

I found this book really interesting, I learned a lot about the Space Race and the wives and their astronauts. The 1950s were such an oppressive time for women in America and it was even more so for these wives who were expected to be the epitome of happy, middle-class America. Many of these women had professions and college degrees before marrying and dedicating themselves to their husband's career. It was really interesting to her about the talents and accomplishments on these women from both before and after their husband's fame. 

I wasn't crazy about the writing style of this book. The writing style seemed too personal and almost a little immature at times. It's hard for me to put my finger on the exact word to describe it, but it just seemed a little off to me. The organization of the book was also pretty lose, The narrative jumps around from wife-to-wife and jumps around in time. It's difficult to keep all of the wives straight because some are casually mentioned once or twice while others are focused on for a lengthy period of time, but because I was just reading this for leisure, I didn't mind being a little confused on which wife was married to which astronaut from time-to-time.

I was fascinated by the wives of the Mercury Seven and spent quite a long time researching them after finishing the book. The book includes two sections of color-photographs which I also loved seeing and spent an afternoon looking for more. This book has definitely peaked my interest in the space race, and was a nice addition to my history research mental bank. Studying the celebrity of these families and the image NASA wanted the wives to portray would be a great lens through which to examine the 1950's. 

If you're interested to see some pictures of the wives and families, here's a link.

As always, leave me your nonfiction recommendations below!

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