web site hit counter The Burning Blue: The Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and Nasa's Challenger Disaster - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Burning Blue: The Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and Nasa's Challenger Disaster

Availability: Ready to download

The untold story of a national trauma—NASA’s Challenger explosion—and what really happened to America’s Teacher in Space, illuminating the tragic cost of humanity setting its sight on the stars You’ve seen the pictures. You think you know what happened. You do not. On the morning of January 28, 1986, NASA’s space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after blasting off from Ca The untold story of a national trauma—NASA’s Challenger explosion—and what really happened to America’s Teacher in Space, illuminating the tragic cost of humanity setting its sight on the stars You’ve seen the pictures. You think you know what happened. You do not. On the morning of January 28, 1986, NASA’s space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after blasting off from Cape Canaveral. Christa McAuliffe, America’s “Teacher in Space,” was instantly killed, along with the other six members of the mission. Right? Wrong. Thirty-five years after NASA’s revitalization program literally went up in smoke, Kevin Cook uncovers the untold story of the disastrous order to launch on an ice-cold Florida day. For the first time, he takes readers inside the shuttle for those agonizing two minutes and forty-five seconds after the fire, which, yes, some of the astronauts survived. But this is more than a simple corrective to a now-dimming memory. Centering on McAuliffe, a charmingly ordinary civilian on the cusp of history, The Burning Blue animates the mission’s colorful cast of characters, which featured the second female astronaut (who was also the first Jewish astronaut), the second Black one, and the first Asian-American and Buddhist in space. Drawing intimate portraits of the people wearing the spacesuits and detailing how they earned the right to suit up, Cook makes readers temporarily forget the tragedy toward which the tale is hurtling. Infused with drama, immediacy, and compelling characters, The Burning Blue reveals the human price paid for politics and capital-P Progress on that ill-fated, unforgettable morning.


Compare

The untold story of a national trauma—NASA’s Challenger explosion—and what really happened to America’s Teacher in Space, illuminating the tragic cost of humanity setting its sight on the stars You’ve seen the pictures. You think you know what happened. You do not. On the morning of January 28, 1986, NASA’s space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after blasting off from Ca The untold story of a national trauma—NASA’s Challenger explosion—and what really happened to America’s Teacher in Space, illuminating the tragic cost of humanity setting its sight on the stars You’ve seen the pictures. You think you know what happened. You do not. On the morning of January 28, 1986, NASA’s space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after blasting off from Cape Canaveral. Christa McAuliffe, America’s “Teacher in Space,” was instantly killed, along with the other six members of the mission. Right? Wrong. Thirty-five years after NASA’s revitalization program literally went up in smoke, Kevin Cook uncovers the untold story of the disastrous order to launch on an ice-cold Florida day. For the first time, he takes readers inside the shuttle for those agonizing two minutes and forty-five seconds after the fire, which, yes, some of the astronauts survived. But this is more than a simple corrective to a now-dimming memory. Centering on McAuliffe, a charmingly ordinary civilian on the cusp of history, The Burning Blue animates the mission’s colorful cast of characters, which featured the second female astronaut (who was also the first Jewish astronaut), the second Black one, and the first Asian-American and Buddhist in space. Drawing intimate portraits of the people wearing the spacesuits and detailing how they earned the right to suit up, Cook makes readers temporarily forget the tragedy toward which the tale is hurtling. Infused with drama, immediacy, and compelling characters, The Burning Blue reveals the human price paid for politics and capital-P Progress on that ill-fated, unforgettable morning.

30 review for The Burning Blue: The Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and Nasa's Challenger Disaster

  1. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    ***SPOILERS HIDDEN*** The 1986 Challenger explosion was one of those “Where were you when…?” moments that’s seared into the memories of so many. It was tragic in itself but even more so because Christa McAuliffe was on board. She was a regular woman, a social studies teacher from New Hampshire, who'd been chosen out of thousands of applicants for a new "Teacher in Space" program. Author Kevin Cook wanted to probe beyond the 1986 images and video of both the explosion and McAuliffe to expose why C ***SPOILERS HIDDEN*** The 1986 Challenger explosion was one of those “Where were you when…?” moments that’s seared into the memories of so many. It was tragic in itself but even more so because Christa McAuliffe was on board. She was a regular woman, a social studies teacher from New Hampshire, who'd been chosen out of thousands of applicants for a new "Teacher in Space" program. Author Kevin Cook wanted to probe beyond the 1986 images and video of both the explosion and McAuliffe to expose why Challenger exploded and to show who McAuliffe really was. Told in an easy-going style, The Burning Blue starts at the very beginning, with foundational information about the role of politics and public interest in the space program, and then it moves on to Challenger itself; its seven-person crew; and, of course, the explosion. Politics and the explosion are linked. The space program was at the height of popularity in the 1960s, but public interest in, and support of, space exploration waned as years passed. President Reagan wanted to bring it back to its moon-landing glory days. The "Teacher in Space" program began getting drawn up in 1984, an election year. After Reagan drew the ire of teachers with budget cuts to the National Education Association, the special program was created to both renew public interest in space exploration and win teachers’ votes. It was in this political and social context that Challenger exploded and then crashed into the sea at 200 G. The explosion was preventable. (view spoiler)[There were known serious problems with some key shuttle parts going in, but NASA was under pressure to launch after delaying the launch date multiple times due to unprecedented low temperatures. The multiple delays were becoming a major embarrassment and getting ridiculed in the news. The agency felt uncomfortable delaying any longer. (hide spoiler)] The Burning Blue’s subtitle implies that McAuliffe and Challenger get equal attention, but really, this is about Challenger first and McAuliffe second. The book is very NASA- and astronomy-focused and could have been more accessible to the casual reader. Cook didn't get into the actual science of astronomy, but he wrote a lot about rocket statistics and technical details. Discussion of boosters, engines, fuselage, parts called O-rings, and the layout of the rocket’s interior get a lot of page space. This could be ok, except he discussed these things under the assumption that the reader knows what they are and how they look. Some illustrations and basic diagrams would’ve been very helpful. As fascinating as The Burning Blue can be, it’s never gripping or really moving. McAuliffe gets plenty of attention but not enough to humanize her beyond her curated media persona. In the many preparatory months before the launch, what the public learned about her is that she was an exuberant woman who was passionate about teaching. After she was chosen, the public watched her fall naturally into the role of celebrity. Requests for interviews were numerous, and she happily obliged. Those asking for autographs got them. In a parade, she cheerfully waved to the crowd. Best of all for NASA, she was brave, expressing full faith in the program and its safety, likening the safety of space travel to routine air travel. What’s known about her now, after reading The Burning Blue, is pretty much the same. Cook wrote a lot about the other six on board too, including very impressive personal and professional details about each (some more than others), but it takes more than that to really humanize people, and their portrayals are no more complete than McAuliffe’s. The “note on sources” section in the back proves that Cook did his homework, researching in all the standard ways: interviewing family members and friends, studying documents, watching footage, and so on, and the book is very thorough when it comes to the facts of Challenger and events leading up to, and after, the explosion. But when it came to those who died, he didn’t transform simple names on a page into complex people. This isn’t impossible. Plenty of investigative journalists have managed to humanize very successfully using the same research materials--and with more inscrutable, less appealing characters. The story of the Challenger explosion is sad for sure, but in Cook’s telling, it doesn’t break the heart. The Burning Blue will appeal most to astronomy geeks. Everyday readers interested in the Challenger explosion will get all the insider details they’re hoping for. Few readers will find it satisfying as an emotional portrait of the humans involved, and they may be confused by the abundance of technical descriptions. This isn’t a horrible book by any stretch, but it could’ve been much better. NOTE: I received this as an Advance Reader Copy from LibraryThing in June 2021.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Janet And Her Books

    One of my earliest memories, watching the shuttle explode on TV was frightening and confusing. I remember seeing it shown again and again on the news and crying. I heard about the Challenger disaster here and there over the years, but it wasn't until now, 35 years later, having read The Burning Blue, that I fully understand what happened. This was an emotionally difficult read for me. I got to know Christa McAuliffe (the Teacher in Space), Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ronald McN One of my earliest memories, watching the shuttle explode on TV was frightening and confusing. I remember seeing it shown again and again on the news and crying. I heard about the Challenger disaster here and there over the years, but it wasn't until now, 35 years later, having read The Burning Blue, that I fully understand what happened. This was an emotionally difficult read for me. I got to know Christa McAuliffe (the Teacher in Space), Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, and Gregory Jarvis, and even though I was well aware how the shuttle's story ended, when I came to that tragic point in the book, I couldn't help but hope they'd figure out a way to get back safely on the ground. How I wished I was reading a novel and the author could change the story and give us a happy ending instead. 💔 Overall a fascinating and thorough look into the lives of the seven Challenger crew members, the tragic explosion, the causes, and the aftermath. Thank you Henry Holt Books for my gifted copy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Heather~ Nature.books.and.coffee

    I really found this book so interesting. I remember The Challenger Disaster very well. It's definitely something that you can never forget. I remember I was in my fourth grade class and we were watching it live on TV. I remember the heartbreak everyone felt watching it. The teachers just having tears in their eyes...in complete shock! The author did an amazing job introducing Christa McAuliffe and the crew members to the reader. Getting to know who they were on a more personal level. Then learni I really found this book so interesting. I remember The Challenger Disaster very well. It's definitely something that you can never forget. I remember I was in my fourth grade class and we were watching it live on TV. I remember the heartbreak everyone felt watching it. The teachers just having tears in their eyes...in complete shock! The author did an amazing job introducing Christa McAuliffe and the crew members to the reader. Getting to know who they were on a more personal level. Then learning about the purpose of this mission, and the Teacher in Space project. I really enjoyed reading this now, because I was so young that I never really knew the details of this tragedy. You also read information about the aftermath of the disaster, the recovery of the bodies and shuttle, and the politics of it, which maybe that part I could've done without. All in all, I thought it was well written and we'll researched. Thank you to the publisher for the gifted copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    It’s always going to be hard reading about a real life tragedy, knowing how it ends. That’s especially so when reading a book like this, which spends the first 50% introducing the reader to Christa McAuliffe and the other six Challenger astronauts on a personal, intimate level. The author did a wonderful job of presenting Christa and her family as the real people they are, who had every reason to believe the opportunity to join a space flight would be meaningful, productive, and above all, safe. It’s always going to be hard reading about a real life tragedy, knowing how it ends. That’s especially so when reading a book like this, which spends the first 50% introducing the reader to Christa McAuliffe and the other six Challenger astronauts on a personal, intimate level. The author did a wonderful job of presenting Christa and her family as the real people they are, who had every reason to believe the opportunity to join a space flight would be meaningful, productive, and above all, safe. I was young when the Challenger disaster occurred - it’s my earliest memory of a major media event, and I really didn’t understand it at the time. I learned a lot from this about the people involved, the context of the mission and the Teacher in Space program, the legacy of the disaster, but most of all, I learned about some truly brave and accomplished people. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Susan Kennedy

    I really enjoyed this book. I think some of that has to be because I was almost 13 years old when it happened and I remember it. Reading the book and reliving that as an adult definitely allows me to look at if differently. I think of things very differently from my almost 13 year old self, like the children of those that died watching. That is just heartbreaking to me. I think this book is well written, easy to read and full of things that I didn't know. It was interesting going back and review I really enjoyed this book. I think some of that has to be because I was almost 13 years old when it happened and I remember it. Reading the book and reliving that as an adult definitely allows me to look at if differently. I think of things very differently from my almost 13 year old self, like the children of those that died watching. That is just heartbreaking to me. I think this book is well written, easy to read and full of things that I didn't know. It was interesting going back and reviewing this piece of history. It was nice to learn about each of those crew members and a bit of their personalities. I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is definitely one I would recommend. I didn't want to put it down. Not only do you get to know the crew, but you get a little peak into the families after the tragedy. I think Kevin Cook did a great job putting this together.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    This is a fantastic book. The Burning Blue details the events surrounding the Challenger explosion in the 1980's. At its core, it is a case study on the phenomena of instant celebrity and the dangers of mixing politics with science, two highly relevant contemporary topics. Cook does an outstanding job of bringing the personalities of the challenger astronauts to life, a rarity in historical books with a technology slant. Finally the book is incredibly well researched. Cook presents a number of f This is a fantastic book. The Burning Blue details the events surrounding the Challenger explosion in the 1980's. At its core, it is a case study on the phenomena of instant celebrity and the dangers of mixing politics with science, two highly relevant contemporary topics. Cook does an outstanding job of bringing the personalities of the challenger astronauts to life, a rarity in historical books with a technology slant. Finally the book is incredibly well researched. Cook presents a number of facts, conversations and behind the scenes events that have not been captured elsewhere. The Burning Blue has the right stuff and is an entertaining and thought-provoking read on the exhilaration and dangers of space flight, both natural and man-made.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Margie Dewind

    I appreciated the opportunity to revisit and learn more about the Challenger explosion, one of the seminal events of my young adult life, especially because I was overseas when it occurred and struggled with my distress and grief.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    I received an advance reading copy of this book, for free, through Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for my honest review. Having been born after the Kennedy Assassination, the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster was the first moment in my life in which I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. I had just taken my seat in my eighth-grade history class, when my usually emotionless teacher entered the room with tears in her eyes. She explained to the class what had happened, and I I received an advance reading copy of this book, for free, through Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for my honest review. Having been born after the Kennedy Assassination, the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster was the first moment in my life in which I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. I had just taken my seat in my eighth-grade history class, when my usually emotionless teacher entered the room with tears in her eyes. She explained to the class what had happened, and I can recall the sense of shock and disbelief felt by all. In The Burning Blue: The Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and NASA’s Challenger Disaster by Kevin Cook, the story of the Challenger Disaster is told in comprehensive, and at times gut-wrenching, detail. The focus of the narrative is Christa McAuliffe, who beat out over 10,000 other teachers to be named NASA’s first-ever Teacher in Space. Readers are introduced to McAuliffe’s family, and follow her through her teaching career, her NASA training, and her experiences dealing with her sudden celebrity. Along the way, we meet the other six crew members of the Challenger mission and follow their journey right up to, and beyond, that fateful moment 73 seconds after liftoff. The big reveal of the book, as hyped on the blurb on the back, is that the astronauts survived the explosion of the shuttle, only to perish when the plummeting crew cabin collided with the Atlantic Ocean. This was not really news to me, as I remember hearing this 15 years ago, but the reenactment of their descent and the disturbing facts about the recovery of the crew’s bodies were revelations. The Burning Blue then shifted focus to the disaster aftermath. The fighting and politics regarding the placement of blame, the resurrection of the shuttle program, and the “what happened to” stories of the families of the seven shuttle astronauts are all examined. Overall, the author provided the reader with a exhaustive look at the events leading up to, and the 35 years that have passed since, January 28, 1986. My only complaint about the book is the pervasiveness of politics of it. I expected some politics to be involved in the hearings and investigations following the disaster, but I did not expect to learn about Christa McAuliffe’s political leanings, her husband’s politics, the politics of the other crew members, etc. It all seemed unnecessary. One cannot turn on the television, watch a movie, or open a book today without being bombarded by political agendas. Literally, in the last five pages of the book the author cites an unnamed source (a Dunkin’ Donuts Deep Throat) who states (without proof) that President Reagan threated NASA officials with ‘If you don’t get that bird up in the air, we’ll cut your funding’.” In what had otherwise been a well-researched and factual account of events, this left a bad taste in my mouth by stooping to hearsay and innuendo. Overall, The Burning Blue is an interesting read. I just could have done without the political slant.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    I was in the 7th grade waiting excited in the school library for the Challenger to lift-off. Never expecting what I was about to witnesses. I think I will remember for the rest of my life. That moment that as a 13 year witnessing something so unbelievable. My whole world changed in a moment. I realized you never knew how long you have left on earth. The Burning Blue we learn the beginning of Christa's journey into space. Cook leads us through every step of the mission. We get a chance to see behi I was in the 7th grade waiting excited in the school library for the Challenger to lift-off. Never expecting what I was about to witnesses. I think I will remember for the rest of my life. That moment that as a 13 year witnessing something so unbelievable. My whole world changed in a moment. I realized you never knew how long you have left on earth. The Burning Blue we learn the beginning of Christa's journey into space. Cook leads us through every step of the mission. We get a chance to see behind the scenes in a sense. Cook took time researching this book. He dug into old NASA files, talked to the family members, astronauts, engineers, and dug into every page he could find on this diaster. By him doing this, we learn of mistakes that were made. I laughed and cried through this book. Maybe it's because I so clearly remember that day in school, when they were sending a teacher into space and the excitement in the school. If you remember this diaster, which if you were a kid in school in 1986 or older then you do, you should read this book. Thanks to Goodreads, Henry Holt Publishing, and Cook for this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Happy Reading 😊

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Kelly

    I, like most Americans, knew about The Challenger and the day it exploded on national television. I also knew that this was a very special space shuttle launch because it held the Teacher in Space, Christa McAuliffe. But aside from those few facts, I had no idea what the real story was behind this deadly disaster. Until I read this amazing book! The author does an amazing job of bringing this story to life by telling it through the perspective of the people who lived it. Most notably, Christa he I, like most Americans, knew about The Challenger and the day it exploded on national television. I also knew that this was a very special space shuttle launch because it held the Teacher in Space, Christa McAuliffe. But aside from those few facts, I had no idea what the real story was behind this deadly disaster. Until I read this amazing book! The author does an amazing job of bringing this story to life by telling it through the perspective of the people who lived it. Most notably, Christa herself in the many interviews and speeches she made leading up to liftoff. This is an excellent non fiction book about the politics of space exploration and how those politics bled over into the lives of those involved in America’s space program. An amazing read!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Beth Withers

    I am plenty old enough to remember the Challenger disaster, and since then, I have read about it to some extent on the internet. While I was aware of some of the findings and background information, I learned through this book that there was a lot I did not know. I finished this book in a day, I found it so informative and fascinating. I also enjoyed learning more about the astronauts that were on the flight, in addition to learning more about Christa McAuliffe. I respect all of these heroes eve I am plenty old enough to remember the Challenger disaster, and since then, I have read about it to some extent on the internet. While I was aware of some of the findings and background information, I learned through this book that there was a lot I did not know. I finished this book in a day, I found it so informative and fascinating. I also enjoyed learning more about the astronauts that were on the flight, in addition to learning more about Christa McAuliffe. I respect all of these heroes even more than I did before reading this book. They were all brave beyond anything I can imagine. I was appalled at some of the information that I learned and hope sincerely that none of it has continued to be a part of NASA. ** I received a free copy of this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review. **

  12. 4 out of 5

    Terri Wangard

    I remember the day of Challenger’s last flight. I was driving to work, listening to the countdown on the radio. I arrived at the library shortly before the launch, so I didn’t hear the liftoff. Later, when I went to the front desk, a clerk asked if I’d heard about Challenger, and that teacher. Since I’ve read most books on the space shuttles, I didn’t learn much new stuff from Burning Blue, the Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and NASA’s Challenger Disaster. The effort of Steve McAuliffe, Christ I remember the day of Challenger’s last flight. I was driving to work, listening to the countdown on the radio. I arrived at the library shortly before the launch, so I didn’t hear the liftoff. Later, when I went to the front desk, a clerk asked if I’d heard about Challenger, and that teacher. Since I’ve read most books on the space shuttles, I didn’t learn much new stuff from Burning Blue, the Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and NASA’s Challenger Disaster. The effort of Steve McAuliffe, Christa’s widower, to prevent Judy Resnik’s family from receiving an equal award in the lawsuits because they weren’t spouses or children, was a surprise. From the subtitle, you know there’s an emphasis on Christa and the Teacher in Space program. There is also emphasis on the importance of teachers and their lack of appreciation. The brief bios on the other six astronauts are appreciated, but it’s almost like they were just along for the ride. Challenger was lost thirty-five years ago. This book offers a good look at the disaster for those unfamiliar with it. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (via LibraryThing) in exchange for an honest review. The title really irked me. Untold story? Exactly what part of this story do you think is untold? I always become very suspicious when an author says they're telling an unknown story, especially of a widely covered event. There have been numerous books and articles written about Challenger. What new and untold information is this author bringing to the table? I was really emotional reading t I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (via LibraryThing) in exchange for an honest review. The title really irked me. Untold story? Exactly what part of this story do you think is untold? I always become very suspicious when an author says they're telling an unknown story, especially of a widely covered event. There have been numerous books and articles written about Challenger. What new and untold information is this author bringing to the table? I was really emotional reading this story. The first part of the book introduces you to Christa and her selection as America's Teacher in Space. We later get to meet the crew assigned to STS-51L. This crew was amazing, and I think more should be said about them away from the cause of their ultimate deaths. Judy Resnik seemed like such a bad-ass. I would have loved to have known her. I also really felt for Greg Jarvis. Technically not an astronaut, he was bumped to this flight by two politicians, one of which is currently running NASA. Commander Scobee seemed like an outstanding commander, who really would have tried to save his ship until the bitter end. Reading this section really endeared this crew to me, tempered by the sadness of knowing what would ultimately happen to them. The part of the book recounting the launch and initial explosion are powerfully written. One of the aspects of Challenger that gave it such an effect on the national memory was how much footage there was. Of the crew, of the launch, of the explosion, of mission control. Have you seen footage showing the faces at Mission Control after the explosion? Haunting. The next section discusses what the author thinks likely happened in the crew cabin after the explosion. There is no recording of what may have happened, but science has determined what kind of stresses and events occurred. The author describes what he felt the astronauts would have done. It is absolutely confirmed that at least some of the crew survived the explosion. Switches were purposefully activated and oxygen packs were turned on. These multi-step actions could not have been accidently done. The author seems to make a big deal about the oxygen, as if that would have kept the crew alive all the way down to the ocean. He didn't seem to mention that this was only meaningful if the cabin hadn't depressurized. The oxygen systems that the crew were using were not pressurized. So even if the oxygen had been activated, it would not have benefited the astronauts in a depressurized cabin. There is no way of knowing if the cabin held or not, since it was smashed so thoroughly by the impact with the ocean. In the end, the final impact was not survivable in any way, shape or form. If any crew members had survived to this point, that impact was the end. Was this the untold part of the story? No. None of this is news. We then get into the technical part of the book, dealing with debris recovery, failure analysis, responsibility and the investigation. Through the investigation process, most everyone seemed to be trying to earn NASA some goodwill. Yeah, not Feynman. Richard Feynman's involvement with the investigation is an interesting story in itself. Also not an untold story. The author then returns to the families of the crew, who we were introduced to the in the earlier part of the book. Something that is often overlooked in the tragedy were the children left behind. Babies, too young to remember their dead parent. I felt like we heard more about the families in this book than in other works, so it added a nice touch to this book. I really appreciated the author's notes, describing where he got his sources for the book. If you wanted to know where a certain fact or statement came from, you can easily find the origin. Overall, I think this was a great book. I would recommend this to almost anyone. Those old enough to have lived through the event first-hand, and those too young to remember would enjoy this. But I'm still not sure what exactly the untold part was.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carin

    I was in 7th grade when the Challenger exploded. Until September 11, that seemed like it was going to be Generation X's seminal moment, our JFK assassination. I remember my shock in high school of seeing a photo of it in my brand-new American History textbook, just 4 years after it happened. I also remember getting in numerous arguments with high school friends whenever it came up and they insisted I did not see it at school because it was a teacher-in-service day as they repeatedly forgot I wen I was in 7th grade when the Challenger exploded. Until September 11, that seemed like it was going to be Generation X's seminal moment, our JFK assassination. I remember my shock in high school of seeing a photo of it in my brand-new American History textbook, just 4 years after it happened. I also remember getting in numerous arguments with high school friends whenever it came up and they insisted I did not see it at school because it was a teacher-in-service day as they repeatedly forgot I went to a different school system (Catholic) for middle school. I remember our principal, Mr. Springman, RUNNING down the hall with a TV on a cart for our classroom (and I presume also the 8th graders.) I also remember with a shudder the jokes that started circulating just a day or two later, which in 7th grade we reveled in, and I think back on in chagrin (our poor teachers must have thought we were complete ghouls. Mr. Cook does address these in the book and they're presented actually as a coping method. I had heard both the jokes he references.) I was worried this book would be depressing but it mostly wasn't. Half the book focused on Christa, her background, how she got to the point of applying, and how she was selected. And then on the training, and the other astronauts. I was so glad to learn about them. Especially Judy Resnick, who was awesome. I didn't previously realize the giant difference between an astronaut and a payload specialist and I won't misuse those terms again. I also was sadly so impressed with the diversity on this particular flight--out of seven astronauts, we had two women, one of whom was Jewish, an African-American, an Asian-American who was Buddhist, and only three white guys. Not only was that progressive as heck for 1986, that is probably pretty good for today. They don't get short shrift in this book--all of them are fully developed along with their backgrounds and families. Yes, they are constantly overshadowed by the Teacher in Space--in death as well as in life--but here they are given their due. And then there is the explosion itself. Mr. Cook does an excellent job of describing the trajectory of the crew cabin so that those of us who saw the explosion hundreds of times that day and have it seared in our brains, can perfectly picture it. And he has new, compelling information from that crew cabin, which was recovered more than a month later, that the astronauts survived for a minute or two after the explosion. Three oxygen tanks were turned on. Multiple switches for things like flipping the aircrafts from auto to manual control, had their protective caps popped off, and were turned--which just can't happen in a crash. These aren't switches that can just be toggled if something heavy lands on them. They must be manipulated manually. Not to mention they weren't random switches--they were the ones you'd go for if you were a trained pilot in an emergency situation trying to regain control. I also found the aftermath fascinating. Thank god Richard Feynman was on the investigative panel. Not only was he the one who figured out it was the temperature of the O-rings that was the culprit, but he wouldn't be bullied or cowed into sweeping this under the rug. Like one of my favorite TV shows, Air Disasters, they wanted to prevent this from happening again. Finally, the book ends with the years and decades after, with the families' fallout from these events, and the politics. And last, it ends with the explosion on reentry of the shuttle Columbia, ending the shuttle era. It's sad to me that this important and tragic event in the 1980s will forever be overshadowed by events afterward. It's the 35th anniversary of the Challenger explosion this year, and also the 20th anniversary of September 11. But it's important to remember this event as well, the lives lost, and the lessons learned (and not learned!)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    An extremely thoughtful and informative reflection on the lives of the Challenger Seven. Illuminates the human perspective of the crew and their families; something often absent in the more technical books about this, and other, disasters. The Burning Blue offers a great insight into the Teacher in Space program in general and its public affairs and political underpinnings. My primary criticism of the book is that the deeper technical and administrative insight into the accident are simplified, An extremely thoughtful and informative reflection on the lives of the Challenger Seven. Illuminates the human perspective of the crew and their families; something often absent in the more technical books about this, and other, disasters. The Burning Blue offers a great insight into the Teacher in Space program in general and its public affairs and political underpinnings. My primary criticism of the book is that the deeper technical and administrative insight into the accident are simplified, most likely to appeal to a more general audience. This is one of three books anyone interested in the Challenger accident needs to read. Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster provides perhaps the most detailed look at the technical and administrative aspects of the disaster, The Burning Blue: The Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and NASA's Challenger Disaster now offers an underreported view from the crew, families, and public perspectives, while Bringing Columbia Home: The Untold Story of a Lost Space Shuttle and Her Crew, although focused on the 2003 Columbia disaster, shows the experiences of the crew's immediate colleagues, the astronaut corps and the NASA employees who interacted with them daily.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    There are iconic images that remained imprinted in our memories forever. Often, they are of tragedies: the twin towers collapsing on 9-11, President Kennedy’s funeral passing his family, images of war and violence. One of those images for me a white flume of water vapor against a pure blue ski suddenly dividing and arcing back earthward. The Challenger space shuttle plunged into the ocean, taking its seven crew members including the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe. The Burning Blue: The There are iconic images that remained imprinted in our memories forever. Often, they are of tragedies: the twin towers collapsing on 9-11, President Kennedy’s funeral passing his family, images of war and violence. One of those images for me a white flume of water vapor against a pure blue ski suddenly dividing and arcing back earthward. The Challenger space shuttle plunged into the ocean, taking its seven crew members including the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe. The Burning Blue: The Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and NASA’s Challenger Disaster by Kevin Cook recreates the history of President Reagan’s plan to send a teacher in space. It was to be good publicity to appease educators angry at governmental funding cuts to education. Christa was a Kennedy democrat, a dedicated teacher, and amazing daughter, wife and mother. She saw the opportunity to use her notoriety for the betterment of schools and students. Her dedication and persistence shines in Cook’s portrait. The other crew members are also beautifully drawn, engaging readers emotionally; we come to care for them and feel the tragedy of their loss. I remember the failure of the orange o-rings. But I had forgotten the details of the investigation, or had never knew them. It is a suspenseful and agonizing read. Readers also learn about the family’s quest for justice, the technological and safety changes NASA implemented after the disaster, and the monument that memorialized the crew and the programs that reached out to future generations. It is a compact, balanced history. I received an ARC from the publisher through LibraryThing. My review is fair and unbiased.

  17. 5 out of 5

    William R Stoyer

    I wanted to give this 5 stars but there were a few too many factual errors, albeit minor. For example on pgs. 32-33 Wally Schirra is identified as Chief of the Astronaut Office at the time, when in fact it was John Young - who is correctly identified on pg. 207. There were at least two instances where the book seemed to indicate a shuttle when from launch to orbit in about 2 minutes, when in reality its about 8 minutes, and there were a few other examples along those lines. None of these take aw I wanted to give this 5 stars but there were a few too many factual errors, albeit minor. For example on pgs. 32-33 Wally Schirra is identified as Chief of the Astronaut Office at the time, when in fact it was John Young - who is correctly identified on pg. 207. There were at least two instances where the book seemed to indicate a shuttle when from launch to orbit in about 2 minutes, when in reality its about 8 minutes, and there were a few other examples along those lines. None of these take away from the story which is still told very well, I would have just liked to see a little more attention paid in the final edit. I feel the best part is chapter 13, which is the first time I've really seen anyone delve into what the astronauts may have gone through after the vehicle broke up. Its a tough chapter to read but I think an important addition to the story. This is also the first book I've read about the disaster that really tried to explain who the astronauts were as individuals, which is another welcome addition. So overall I certainly recommend, despite the minor issues. If you are interested in the more technical aspects of the disaster I highly recommend Al McDonald's book 𝘛𝘳𝘶𝘵𝘩, 𝘓𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘖-𝘙𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴, as well as Diane Vaughan's 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳 𝘓𝘢𝘶𝘯𝘤𝘩 𝘋𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯. The Presidential Commission Report, especially the minutes from the hearings, are also a fascinating and frustrating read. You can find them on NASA's website.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary Scanlon

    The Challenger was supposed to be the way the United States reclaimed the importance of space flight. Ronald Reagan, realizing he did not have the support of the teacher's unions, decided that sending a teacher into space and stressing the important role teachers play in our society was the best thing to do. Christa McAullife was the lucky winner and began a whirlwind period of tv interviews and learning how to survive in space. After multiple delays, the crew boards the shuttle on January 28, 1 The Challenger was supposed to be the way the United States reclaimed the importance of space flight. Ronald Reagan, realizing he did not have the support of the teacher's unions, decided that sending a teacher into space and stressing the important role teachers play in our society was the best thing to do. Christa McAullife was the lucky winner and began a whirlwind period of tv interviews and learning how to survive in space. After multiple delays, the crew boards the shuttle on January 28, 1986, and waits for the countdown. Minutes after taking off, the unimaginable happens. There is an explosion and the worst occurs. It is originally believed that the crew of the Challenger died during the explosion but this book reveals the truth. I remembering watching the replay of the shuttle explosion while eating lunch at home and didn't really understand the implications of what had happened. Reading about it over 30 years later helped me better understand what happened that day and the way it affected the nation. Kevin Cook did an exceptional job of breaking down each astronaut's days leading up to the flight and then how heartbroken the families were. This is my second book by Kevin Cook and I am looking forward to reading more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    I was in first grade when the Challenger exploded. Our teacher had wanted us to see history in the making, so she wheeled in a TV on a metal cart, and had us all watching, enraptured. When the moment happened, she immediately ran to the TV and shut it off, but that explosion is permanently seared on my brain. This book was an excellent look both behind the scenes and after the event at the Challenger and its ill-fated crew. In life, and beyond, Christa McAuliffe has always taken center stage in I was in first grade when the Challenger exploded. Our teacher had wanted us to see history in the making, so she wheeled in a TV on a metal cart, and had us all watching, enraptured. When the moment happened, she immediately ran to the TV and shut it off, but that explosion is permanently seared on my brain. This book was an excellent look both behind the scenes and after the event at the Challenger and its ill-fated crew. In life, and beyond, Christa McAuliffe has always taken center stage in the story of the Challenger, as it was remarkable that a teacher- a layperson- would join the crew of experienced personnel aboard the spaceship. The book’s first half largely focuses on her and her back story, which was fascinating. We got a good glimpse at all members aboard the craft- McNair, Onizuka, Scobee, Smith, Jarvis, Resnik, and of course, McAuliffe. This crew was remarkably diverse, particularly in 1986, and each person’s story was equally fascinating to me. This was a fantastic and fast read. Cook has a gift fir engaging the reader and I will be seeking out more of his books. Definitely a must-read for anyone who remembers that tragic day and wants to know more about the crew and the aftermath of the explosion

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Even if you weren't alive to witness the Challenger disaster, you've most likely learned about it in school. How on that freezing morning, seven men and women began a mission to outer space but didn't make it past the first two minutes after the launch. On board with the other astronauts was Christa McAuliffe, a history teacher from New Hampshire, a brave woman who was determined to make great changes to the educational system through her journey to space. The Burning Blue talks about how McAuli Even if you weren't alive to witness the Challenger disaster, you've most likely learned about it in school. How on that freezing morning, seven men and women began a mission to outer space but didn't make it past the first two minutes after the launch. On board with the other astronauts was Christa McAuliffe, a history teacher from New Hampshire, a brave woman who was determined to make great changes to the educational system through her journey to space. The Burning Blue talks about how McAuliffe was selected to be a part of the Challenger mission, her training and experiences with the crew, and what the day of the explosion was like. The book also gives history into the other six members of the crew, discusses what went wrong that morning, and the aftermath and impacts on the tragedy. I found this book to be so incredibly interesting I couldn't stop reading. Although it was technical through some stretches, it was easy to understand and a fast-paced read. It was eye opening to read about her experiences and feelings leading up to the day of the launch, as well as how her family, friends, and coworkers perceived her being the first teacher in space. Thank you so much to Henry Holt for the free review copy!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Hughes

    I was in 1st grade in January 1986. On the 28th, I came home from school and my dad met me at the door to explain the sad news of what had happened. I didn't really understand, but I watched some coverage on TV. It was hard, and sad. I remember wondering why Christa smiled so much. Why I read it: So jumping forward to a few days ago when I requested this book at the library, I'd just listened to a fascinating interview on NPR with the author. I wanted to read this book and hopefully understand so I was in 1st grade in January 1986. On the 28th, I came home from school and my dad met me at the door to explain the sad news of what had happened. I didn't really understand, but I watched some coverage on TV. It was hard, and sad. I remember wondering why Christa smiled so much. Why I read it: So jumping forward to a few days ago when I requested this book at the library, I'd just listened to a fascinating interview on NPR with the author. I wanted to read this book and hopefully understand so much more than I could 30+ years ago. The book focuses on stories of Christa McAuliffe and the Teacher in Space launch, but provides much more insight on astronaunt training, school teaching, politics and NASA caught in a highly-pressured spiral of events leading to the Challenger Disaster. Why I recommend it: This book doesn't focus on death of heroes; it highlights so much good in the lives of seven brave men and women who should be remembered for a long, long time... beyond the facts of their tragic launch. Read this book to find the good and to be inspired to learn or try something new in their honor.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karen Swinney

    I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway, and i couldn't have been more thrilled. I was a Junior in High School When this happened and I remember I was at home washing the dishes and had the TV on in the Livingroom when it happened. It was a devastating moment for everyone more so for the families who where there in person watching it happen. This story goes into detail about the selection process for the Teacher in Space program and about the lives of everyone involved in this shuttle flight I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway, and i couldn't have been more thrilled. I was a Junior in High School When this happened and I remember I was at home washing the dishes and had the TV on in the Livingroom when it happened. It was a devastating moment for everyone more so for the families who where there in person watching it happen. This story goes into detail about the selection process for the Teacher in Space program and about the lives of everyone involved in this shuttle flight and subsequent disaster to the aftermath of the explosion and what happened. I was invested from the first chapter to the end. It is a very sobering look at the last minutes of 7 very brave men and women. I recommend this highly if you are interested in knowing the true story of what happened on that day, from a very human perspective.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cayley Causey

    As I read this book, I couldn't stop myself from telling everyone - this is the best piece of nonfiction I've ever read. Of course, if you're reading this book you probably know the ending. Even though I was born a decade after the Challenger disaster, I grew up hearing about this and studied it in many of my college classes. Yet I never knew the people on the shuttle. I didn't know their stories. Kevin Cook does an unparalleled job of showing who these people were and telling the story that led As I read this book, I couldn't stop myself from telling everyone - this is the best piece of nonfiction I've ever read. Of course, if you're reading this book you probably know the ending. Even though I was born a decade after the Challenger disaster, I grew up hearing about this and studied it in many of my college classes. Yet I never knew the people on the shuttle. I didn't know their stories. Kevin Cook does an unparalleled job of showing who these people were and telling the story that led up to the day that went down in history. As I read the story, I laughed and worried with them. The book is so engaging that you truly can forget what is going to happen. As the liftoff neared, my heart felt the loss of these lives. I have never cried from reading a nonfiction book before, but this one left me in tears. This book is truly a masterpiece to be proud of and to read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Schultz

    Read if you: Want an insightful and heartbreaking look at the last Challenger crew, with an emphasis on Christa McAuliffe. I rarely wish a book was longer--but I could have easily welcomed 100+ more pages! I was in second grade when Challenger exploded (did not watch live), so while I remember the sadness of that day, there's not much I actually knew or remembered. Cook creates a warm, winning, and admirable portrayal of McAuliffe that feels totally genuine and honest. Librarians/booksellers: Wi Read if you: Want an insightful and heartbreaking look at the last Challenger crew, with an emphasis on Christa McAuliffe. I rarely wish a book was longer--but I could have easily welcomed 100+ more pages! I was in second grade when Challenger exploded (did not watch live), so while I remember the sadness of that day, there's not much I actually knew or remembered. Cook creates a warm, winning, and admirable portrayal of McAuliffe that feels totally genuine and honest. Librarians/booksellers: With the recent documentary on Challenger (2020), this will likely have interest, due to the lack of recent books about the disaster. Many thanks to Henry Holt & Company and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    QOH

    This was my first "Where were you when?" historical event, and as a result I remember a particular stairwell in a Massachusetts junior high school (which would otherwise not be remembered at all). About ten years later I watched another shuttle launch, in person, and I held my breath a lot longer than I thought was possible. I'd read quite a bit about the O rings in the past, and although I didn't need it to be rehashed, it would have been a more interesting book if it had more of the NASA/gover This was my first "Where were you when?" historical event, and as a result I remember a particular stairwell in a Massachusetts junior high school (which would otherwise not be remembered at all). About ten years later I watched another shuttle launch, in person, and I held my breath a lot longer than I thought was possible. I'd read quite a bit about the O rings in the past, and although I didn't need it to be rehashed, it would have been a more interesting book if it had more of the NASA/government contractor culture and less repetition about whether the teacher-in-space program was a good idea and if Christa McAuliffe was a good fit. Although the book flowed well, I had a sense we were missing a lot.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Allyson

    I was 14 when the Challenger Disaster happened. I remember the day distinctly, but I have almost no recollection of the aftermath and investigation. I remember hearing the word “O ring” repeated endlessly. Which is why I picked up this book; I want to know full story. This book is full of good info that helped me understand what happened that day in January 1986. I had completely missed the fact that Christa McAuliffe had such young children, or maybe it just hit me differently as a teenager and I was 14 when the Challenger Disaster happened. I remember the day distinctly, but I have almost no recollection of the aftermath and investigation. I remember hearing the word “O ring” repeated endlessly. Which is why I picked up this book; I want to know full story. This book is full of good info that helped me understand what happened that day in January 1986. I had completely missed the fact that Christa McAuliffe had such young children, or maybe it just hit me differently as a teenager and I didn’t remember. Something that is difficult about reading this book is the reminder of how rampant sexism was totally acceptable in the ‘80s, shown most vividly in the crap Judy Resnik had to deal with. The writing style is engaging and forthright, and technical jargon is always explained. Author Kevin Cook does a great job of weaving histories into the narrative, right where we need them, but without tarrying too long or straying too far from the story.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Judith Logsdon

    Living in southeast Florida, I watched many a shuttle launch. Night launches were especially exciting. I remember well watching the Challenger launch on tv and running outside the office where I worked to see the actual trajectory. There was always a few second lag between lift off and visual in Palm Beach County. All shuttle veterans In south Florida knew something was terribly wrong with this visual. The Burning Blue is an absolutely fascinating book. Christa McAuliffe, Judy Resnik, Dick Scobe Living in southeast Florida, I watched many a shuttle launch. Night launches were especially exciting. I remember well watching the Challenger launch on tv and running outside the office where I worked to see the actual trajectory. There was always a few second lag between lift off and visual in Palm Beach County. All shuttle veterans In south Florida knew something was terribly wrong with this visual. The Burning Blue is an absolutely fascinating book. Christa McAuliffe, Judy Resnik, Dick Scobee, Mike Smith, Ellison Onizuka, Greg Jarvis and Ron McNair are well served by this account. Would that we had more of their kind in this country now.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julie Pint

    A fast easy read especially considering the technical aspects involved in the examination of this historical event. I remember sitting in a large room with my classmates watching the Challenger launch and being stunned by the events of the day. The book covers that piece very well, but it is a minor part the the story. We learn about all that lead up to this launch and we learn about the astronauts. It truly is a moving story, and I learned much about that fateful day. A 4.5 stars on the advance A fast easy read especially considering the technical aspects involved in the examination of this historical event. I remember sitting in a large room with my classmates watching the Challenger launch and being stunned by the events of the day. The book covers that piece very well, but it is a minor part the the story. We learn about all that lead up to this launch and we learn about the astronauts. It truly is a moving story, and I learned much about that fateful day. A 4.5 stars on the advanced read courtesy of Goodreads and Henry Holt publishing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    AJ

    I've read a lot about Challenger, and was worried this book wouldn't tell me anything I didn't already know. I was wrong! The Burning Blue looks at the Challenger disaster through the lens of Christa McAuliffe, the teacher in space chosen in 1985 to be the first "normal person" to go to space. You're probably aware of what happened. In January 1986, an o-ring on the SRB (known to be faulty) failed, killing all seven aboard the orbiter just about a minute and a half after liftoff. Read this book, a I've read a lot about Challenger, and was worried this book wouldn't tell me anything I didn't already know. I was wrong! The Burning Blue looks at the Challenger disaster through the lens of Christa McAuliffe, the teacher in space chosen in 1985 to be the first "normal person" to go to space. You're probably aware of what happened. In January 1986, an o-ring on the SRB (known to be faulty) failed, killing all seven aboard the orbiter just about a minute and a half after liftoff. Read this book, and if you're still hoping for more, go watch Challenger: The Final Flight on Netflix.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    I was in seventh grade when the space shuttle Challenger exploded, and I read everything I could find about it and the seven astronauts. Reading The Burning Blue brought back a lot of memories and information I had learned long ago as well as feelings of nostalgia. Despite the fact that I knew how things were going to end for these seven and their families, I kept hoping that some miracle would happen and that these seven brilliant and talented people would find a way to survive. Reading this bo I was in seventh grade when the space shuttle Challenger exploded, and I read everything I could find about it and the seven astronauts. Reading The Burning Blue brought back a lot of memories and information I had learned long ago as well as feelings of nostalgia. Despite the fact that I knew how things were going to end for these seven and their families, I kept hoping that some miracle would happen and that these seven brilliant and talented people would find a way to survive. Reading this book will remind you how much our country lost on January 28, 1986.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...