The Mercury 13 by Martha Ackmann

The Mercury 13 by Martha Ackmann
The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Non-Fiction, Historical
Length: Full Length (288 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

In 1961, just as NASA launched its first man into space, a group of women underwent secret testing in the hopes of becoming America’s first female astronauts. They passed the same battery of tests at the legendary Lovelace Foundation as did the Mercury 7 astronauts, but they were summarily dismissed by the boys’ club at NASA and on Capitol Hill. The USSR sent its first woman into space in 1963; the United States did not follow suit for another twenty years.

For the first time, Martha Ackmann tells the story of the dramatic events surrounding these thirteen remarkable women, all crackerjack pilots and patriots who sometimes sacrificed jobs and marriages for a chance to participate in America’s space race against the Soviet Union. In addition to talking extensively to these women, Ackmann interviewed Chuck Yeager, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, and others at NASA and in the White House with firsthand knowledge of the program, and includes here never-before-seen photographs of the Mercury 13 passing their Lovelace tests.
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Despite the crushing disappointment of watching their dreams being derailed, the Mercury 13 went on to extraordinary achievement in their lives: Jerrie Cobb, who began flying when she was so small she had to sit on pillows to see out of the cockpit, dedicated her life to flying solo missions to the Amazon rain forest; Wally Funk, who talked her way into the Lovelace trials, went on to become one of the first female FAA investigators; Janey Hart, mother of eight and, at age forty, the oldest astronaut candidate, had the political savvy to steer the women through congressional hearings and later helped found the National Organization for Women.

A provocative tribute to these extraordinary women, The Mercury 13 is an unforgettable story of determination, resilience, and inextinguishable hope.

Thirteen women who wanted to go to space and the trials surrounding them. I never knew the full story. I know more of it now.

I’ve been on a space bender. I really have. I want to know as much as I can, even though I’m scared of heights and have no chance of ever going to space. Silly, right? Me, a girl who isn’t thrilled by heights wants to know about space. I do.

This book is interesting from the first page. I read it in an afternoon. The writing is such that I was sucked in right away and felt like I knew the women involved. I felt for Ruth Nichols, who wanted to go to space, but would never be able to and died affected by her lack of chances. Jerrie Cobb, the woman who showed women were perfectly suited for space and could be better than the men without being showy about it. I got emotionally involved in their stories.

If you’re looking for a book that reads like a novel and touches on the lives of the women who could’ve gone to space if the chances had come through, then this might be the book you’re looking for. Check it out!

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