Guest Recommendation: with Jeremy Anderberg from Read More Books
The Pre-Astronauts: Manned Ballooning on the Threshold of Space — Craig Ryan
Welcome to the inaugural guest recommendation on Reading Under the Radar! On the last Tuesday of each month, I’ll be asking a fellow book friend about one of their favorite under-the-radar reads.
This week, welcome Jeremy Anderberg from Read More Books for our very first guest recommendation! Check out Read More Books for more recommendations from him and some excellent book content!
What It’s About
One of my favorite under-the-radar reads is a niche history book published by the Naval Institute Press back in the mid-nineties. The Pre-Astronauts: Manned Ballooning on the Threshold of Space by Craig Ryan, details the thrilling story of the men who touched the edge of space in what amounted to giant hot air balloons.
I know you’re giving me a big, head-scratching “Huh?” right about now. A history book about balloons? Yes indeed! Ryan masterfully tells the truly gripping story of the insanely brave scientists and adventurers who paved the way for the far more famous astronauts who came after.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, before Armstrong and Glenn became household names, men like Joe Kittinger and Nick Piantanida ascended to well over 100,000 feet in the air, in a balloon, and then jumped out down to earth (a move copied by Felix Baumgartner) in order to study the effects of oxygen deprivation, gravity, G forces, etc. Their discoveries would lead to later innovations in the Gemini and Apollo programs which sent astronauts into orbit and to the moon.
Who Will Like It
Despite the title and academic publisher, there’s nothing dry about this book. It’ll appeal not only to the history nerds in your life, but also to anyone who just loves a great story well-told. You won’t be finding any new copies out there, but there are plenty of pre-owned options available. If you do buy it, be sure to pay close attention — without knowing it, my copy ended up being signed by both the author and Joe Kittinger!
Thank you Jeremy for being the very first guest recommender on Reading Under the Radar—I cannot wait to check this book out. I love reading niche nonfiction and this seems like an excellent one! Being a big fan of Mary Roach (and her book Packing for Mars), this will be an excellent precursor to learning more about space scientists of the past!
Please thank Jeremy for recommending, and don’t forget to check out his publication Read More Books for more! And let me know what you think about the guest recommendation feature—I would love to hear from you!
Can’t get enough, or looking for a different recommendation? Browse the archives, or check out some popular past recommendations:
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