BOOK LAUNCH: Escape from Earth: A Secret History of the Space Rocket

10 Jul 2019 6.30pm – 8.00pm

Blackwell's Bookshop Edinburgh, 53 - 62 South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1YS

BOOK LAUNCH: Escape from Earth: A Secret History of the Space Rocket

We are delighted to invite you to the book launch of Fraser MacDonald’s Escape from Earth: A Secret History of the Space Rocket, hosted by Blackwell’s and introduced by Pippa Goldschmidt.

Reserve your free tickets here:

About the Book

1930s Los Angeles: Everyone knows that rockets are just toys, the stuff of cranks and pulp magazines. Yet an earnest engineering student named Frank Malina is less certain. With the help of his friend Jack Parsons, a grandiose explosives enthusiast with a taste for the occult, Frank methodically sets about turning spaceflight from fantasy to reality. Their journey takes them from junk yards and desert lots to the heights of the military industrial complex. Malina’s design becomes the first American rocket in space, while the basic strategy that he mapped out – multi-stage rocketry – becomes our stepping-stone to the universe. By rights, he should be recognised as a giant of the twentieth century. So why is his name almost unknown?

Drawing on an array of untapped sources, including FBI documents, personal testimonies and the vast Malina family archive, Fraser MacDonald uncovers the startling truth. Frank was a communist, intent on revolution in America. His dreams of space and his visions of a new society stemmed from the same impulse: to let reason light our way to the future. But when the technology he invented became the key to the Cold War’s balance of power, Frank was a marked man, and the net was closing.

Full of explosive revelations, Escape From Earth turns the familiar story of the Space Race upside down. Enter a paranoid world of surveillance and betrayal, bizarre delusions and all-too-justified fears. Legends of science such as Theodore von Karman and J. Robert Oppenheimer cross paths with Soviet operatives and aspirant Messiahs. At its heart, however, this is an Icarus story: a true fable about the miracle of human ingenuity and the danger of dreams. Another world may be possible – but at what price?

About the Author

Fraser MacDonald teaches historical geography at the University of Edinburgh and is a founding member of the Social Dimensions of Outer Space network. He has been interested in space flight since the age of seven, when he met the Apollo 15 astronaut Colonel James B. Irwin at a public event in Aberdeen. Fraser contributes regularly to the Guardian among other publications. Escape from Earth is his first book.