Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Going to Extremes, by Derek Grzelewski

At first I thought, well, ok, but doing extreme stuff is pretty ‘run of the mill’ here in Aotearoa.  Don't we do nutty stuff all the time. Jumping off bridges attached to rubber, rolling down hills in plastic bubbles. You know - ‘extreme adventure’.  But still "Going to Extremes" does go beyond the your average - and a good job too.  The intro is a great start.  Grzelewski is on the run from the military, a deserter of sorts in his native Poland.  A Bond like start to a lifetime of adventuring.  I wonder, though are these sorts of a adventures just a need to move beyond just a way to get a thrill for yourself.  Adventures can be gained from what you do in the world sure, but it seems to me, the best adventures are the ones where you do something for someone else.   The book traverses many slopes from sharks to avalanches, to underwater ice caves and oddly lichen.  The best quotes lurk in this chapter: "Lichenologists are a peculiar lot ... dreamy eyed and detached, they seem to inhabit a different dimension.  They speak a language only they understand and haunt places the rest of us usually avoid."  True to much of the destinations here in, it seems.    endangered species, providing support for people recovering from massive injuries or the masses of heroes in our country that no one has ever heard about. People who undertake these endeavors are the true adventures. This book will help open your eyes to what true adventure can be. New Zealand is a land of adventure and most of it happens completely unacknowledged by practically everyone in the country.

There are some great moments.Don Merton's rescue of the kakapo, the world's most endearing parrot!  Diving inside the wreck of the ilfated Mikail Lementov (the history to the point it sunk is fascinating alone).  There are tales of saving Kiwis, diving for treasure in the wrecks and tales from volunteer firefighters It's a heady mix.  

After you have read this book, maybe it will inspire your own truly unique adventure. Or maybe you already are one of the unknown adventurers and you just didn't realize it.

Writer, photographer and adventurer Derek Grzelewski was born in Poland and emigrated to New Zealand while in his early 20s. He is a regular contributor to top-end magazines like New Zealand Geographic, Australian Geographic, Smithsonian, GEO and Flylife. He is a former professional fly fishing guide and the founder of Wanaka Flyfishing Academy.

Rob Sloane, editor of FlyLife magazine wrote about his TROUT DIARIES: "The book will surely become a classic. I couldn't put it down. If I ever read a better fishing book I can't remember it."

Derek lives in Wanaka, New Zealand, on the banks of the Clutha river. His websites are and

No Punches Pulled By Bob Jones

The best of Bob Jones' New Zealand Herald columns. Every week Bob Jones delivers an upper cut to the foibles, foolishness and outright fatuousness of contemporary life.
In this collection of the best of his columns from the NZ Herald, he lines up the pious, the pitiful and the politically correct - and never pulls his punches. 

Uncompromising and unexpurgated, this is Sir Bob at his most honest and hilarious.

These are 200 -400 word essays, sort enough for the little winger's room and perfect laxatives for modern life.  

With 21 books and hundreds of columns published, a fleeting career in politics (which probably inspired the kernel for NZ First) Jones is prolific.  Politicians refuse to acknowledge that he has influence and wit way beyond that bore of bores Paul Holmes or that buffoon of the airwaves, Leighton Smith.  Jones' articles are perfect quick fixes but not entirely satisfying.  It is a curious thing that in New Zealand rich, self made men feel it is ok to publish their opinions with such regularity, Gareth Morgan not excepting.  His subjects leapfrog from Tennis and Ladies at the court side to golden mile shopping, and weirdly letters from Greg King, Barrister for notorious murderers.  Albeit with gentle facts blacked away, lest we learn truth from hearsay.  Still what is real is simply what is stated, now isn't it?   

September Showdown by John Terrace

I knew John way back in 1990 when he was involved with Valley FM, a radio station that both Dean and I were cutting our teeth in the medium.  He had already been a local MP and a long serving Mayor.  He went on to serve the Hutt Valley for many more years, too.  He was never afraid to call a spade a shovel, or to dig the turf when the sods needed turning.  So, t's no surprise that with special affiliation to any of the parties he's slingin' brickbats and bouquets with equal measure.

Delivered in a series of ranting, witty, and all-too-clever letters to his wide-eyed nephew Basil, Terris shares his experiences as he sets out to explain to his protege the role of  office of Member of the New
Zealand Parliament - which looks so attractive to the bright, personable and idealistic young
man or woman, may turn out to be something else.  Yet how to convey the disappointments in
store, the trials and tribulations, not to mention the betrayals and disillusionment, which
awaits them after they achieve their dream?

Given that the upcoming election could be a one trick pony in a one sided rig of fire, why bother?  David Cunliffe is offering nothing,  Craig's Conservatives are simply wolves in Act's clothing and Winston' still refuses to tell us what his policies will be, despite a full half hour interview on Q&A that told us nothing more acutely than anything he's ever said.  Terris is not into pitching up one to the other.  This is simply a platform for a  vivid, yet tongue-in-cheek, meander through all that lies ahead of Basil in his quest for selection for the Labour Party (or the National Party, should that go badly) and ultimately a seat in parliament.

Terris' book has it's moments.  It's a bit dated in places, the language belonging to the grumpier of the old men  Still that's fine for the right audience.  However, it is still entertaining in a 'Punch' sort of way.  Some lines are a bit tired: "The Pen is more Paua-ful than the sword" being one example.   Also dated are the references to Rob Muldoon and the like.  Given I was but a nipper when the tyrant was in power I have to ask in this day ad age - does anyone care ?  That was over 35 years ago.  Have we, or can we ever move on?  Such is the nature of politics.  The public have short memories and commentators have elephantine cerebral banks by comparison, well beyond the point of a caring readership.

John Terris moved into politics in 1977 after a very successful broadcasting career in both radio and TV. Initially a local councillor in the Hutt Valley, in 1978 he began four terms as the Labour MP for Western Hutt, including as the Deputy Speaker of the House and became the first MP to sponsor a private
member’s bill supporting proportional representation.  Oh yes, he's responsible!!!!! In 1989 was presented with a Queen’s Service Order for his time in parliament.  He has also held several administration
positions in both major parties, has enjoyed the privileges of power and been on the receiving end of bad publicity as an MP. He is currently a member of the Hutt Valley District Health Board, a writer and is still involved with many community groups..  Sadly Valley FM is no more - perhaps he could help resurrect it.

September Showdown is was just released (14 July - $24.99) and is available from all major NZ book chains and independent bookstores.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

What Galileo Saw - Lawrence Lipking - Cornell University Press

The Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century has often been called a decisive turning point in human history. It represents, for good or ill, the birth of modern science and modern ways of viewing the world. In What Galileo Saw, Lawrence Lipking offers a new perspective on how to understand what happened then, arguing that artistic imagination and creativity as much as rational thought played a critical role in creating new visions of science and in shaping stories about eye-opening discoveries in cosmology, natural history, engineering, and the life sciences. 

When Galileo saw the face of the Moon and the moons of Jupiter, Lipking writes, he had to picture a cosmos that could account for them. Kepler thought his geometry could open a window into the mind of God. Francis Bacon's natural history envisioned an order of things that would replace the illusions of language with solid evidence and transform notions of life and death. Descartes designed a hypothetical “Book of Nature” to explain how everything in the universe was constructed. Thomas Browne reconceived the boundaries of truth and error. Robert Hooke, like Leonardo, was both researcher and artist; his schemes illuminate the microscopic and the macrocosmic. And when Isaac Newton imagined nature as a coherent and comprehensive mathematical system, he redefined the goals of science and the meaning of genius. 

What Galileo Saw bridges the divide between science and art; it brings together Galileo and Milton, Bacon and Shakespeare. Lipking enters the minds and the workshops where the Scientific Revolution was fashioned, drawing on art, literature, and the history of science to reimagine how perceptions about the world and human life could change so drastically, and change forever. 

I wanted to like this book.  A great concept.  Galileo isone of my favourite rebels.  A man well ahead of his time.  Almost obsessed in proving his ideas.  Sbel's book on Galeleo's Daughter, written a few years back approximates Galeleo's life through letters to her from her father and then slightly dramatised it.  In a way this we have come to know this man and his heretic antics as a revolution against the church and possibly, if Richard Dawkins were to argue it, the first case of science trumping religion.  So my expectations of  Lipkin were high.  What could he offer that other authors had not already covered..  And I wanted this to be the case.  But sadly all Lipkin could offer was a rehash of academic Wikipedia.  I learnt nothing new about the man or even his insights - or ousights.  I was disappointed and frequently had to shake myself awake.  His language, his prose was an approximation of academia but is overbloated vebosity.  I was disappointed.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Vertical Living: The Architectural Centre and the Remaking of Wellington - Julia Gatley & Paul Walker - Auckland University Press

In 1946 a group of students and idealists got together to realise their visions for a modern city. Over the following half century, the Architectural Centre they founded helped to shape the possibilities of modern life in urban New Zealand and profoundly influenced the remaking of Wellington.
But this partnership was more than just an association of architects, the Architectural Centre had a plan, a manifesto it was a teaching organisation and it even fostered a magazine –Design Review.  It chose to support and curate  modernist exhibitions in its own gallery, and was even behind an ambitious, audacious campaign for political influence called ‘the Project’.  The group were influential players in Wellington's town planning, and advocated for better design  Its members also built a demonstration house.  They were activists in heavy tweed and black polos and their projects were the face and shape of the Capital for many years.  Over all that time from the early period of post war New Zealand Julia Gatley and Paul Walker have been in the back ground keeping tabs on their progress and successes, with Vertical Living being their testimony.  It's a history of urban Wellington from the 1940s to the 1990s and beyond.   
This is a wonderful survey of the city.  I particularly enjoyed the aerial photos of the city in the 40's, 50's and 60's.  These are images of Wellington that I've never seen before.  And I was reminded of how much destruction the 80's building boom, especially that lead by the Chase corporation, brought to the Capital.  I wonder, though given the Council's strict earthquake strengthening policy how much of that heritage would remain, how much would be rubble even now, following recent tremors. 
Also, I wonder about the onset of modernist.  Government architect Ernst Plischke.was responsible for some of the most innovative, yet austere and penitentiary designs Wellington had ever seen.  If you want an example of how Modernism was intended to provide a bright future of hope but instead condemned its citizens to the worst of banality and mediocrity then look no further than the Lower Hutt Municipal Buildings and surrounding Gardens.  The design was supposed to bring a fresh coat of paint to the post war suburbs.  And similarly, Public State housing was the same.  Yet these buildings have not aged well.  They might be well built but they lack personality, are breath volumes about conformity and our psyche that will cut down all tall poppies, slash any one that wants to over express their creativity.  Interestingly Plishcke was a European, new to our shores, with modernist ideas from Le Corbusier and Gropius.  Yet, with a smaller budget and less grand thinking the push for new machines of living condemned the public tenants of Dixon St flats to hideous prison cells, lacking storage and room from our ever expanding clunky appliances and furniture. They are impractical and confining.  They go against the Kiwi dream of the quarter acre pavlova paradise.  
This book reminds us that, in modernist ideology, architecture and urban planning went hand-in-hand with visual and craft arts, graphic and industrial design. I was also reminded, especially when looking at the chapters on the 80's and 90's that we have a city ready to embrace the 'latest' and to learn from the past and take what we need to shape the future.  I was also reminded that raw commercialism and capitalist greed was responsible for much of Wellington's abortionist architecture over the years.  Some, like the modern but ultimately hideously institutional Massey House sadly remain.  The building proved many engineering theories and made good on many new ideas.  But despite this the building still is an impractical response.  It's only saving grace has now been dismantled.  Roy Parson's book shop and cafĂ© was an inspirational, trendy, Scandinavian addition to the austerity of the coming concrete jungle that will eventually engulf Wellington's Golden Mile and beyond.  Thank God that plans to clean up the dying hulks of Molesworth Street, which was once a street of new and experimental buildings and is now a dying ghetto compromises, some condemned to earthquake risk.  

On the back cover, a telling and ominous photo of the framework of the BNZ building opposite
Stewart Dawson's corner looms large, dwarfing every other structure.  Yet it was halted for many years due to a Boilermaker's strike that not only ended the union but all steel construction for many years.

I loved this book, for its history, for its memories and for the unwritten future that it forbodes.  If a sequel is possible it will certainly be interesting to see that in another 40 to 50 years.

Julia Gatley is a senior lecturer in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Auckland. A graduate of Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Melbourne, she is author of Athfield Architects (2012) and editor ofGroup Architects: Towards a New Zealand Architecture (2010) and Long Live the Modern: New Zealand’s New Architecture, 1904–1984 (2008).
Paul Walker is a professor of architecture at the University of Melbourne. Educated at the University of Auckland, he is co-author with Justine Clark ofLooking for the Local: Architecture and the New Zealand Modern (2000). Recent publications include chapters in The Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory, edited by Greig Crysler, Stephen Cairns and Hilde Heynen (2012); Neo-Avant-garde and Postmodern: Postwar Architecture in Britain and Beyond, edited by Mark Crinson and Claire Zimmerman (2010); and Colonial Modernities, edited by Peter Scriver and Vikramaditya Prakash (2007).
Vertical Living: The Architectural Centre and the Remaking of Wellington also includes contributions from curator and art historian Damian Skinner and from Justine Clark, an independent architectural editor, writer and critic.

Read more or see a sample at:


Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Badlands: Decadent Playground of Old Peking - Paul French - Penguin (Kindle Edition)

In January 1937, a 19-year-old’s mutilated body was found at the bottom of the Beijing Fox Tower. Pamela Werner, the daughter of a respected British sinologist, had had her ribcage broken and her heart torn out. Police investigations led to nothing. The case was closed as the Japanese invasion of China engulfed the foreign community.
Paul French explored the mystery 75 years later in his book “Midnight in Peking,” tracing it all back to the Peking Badlands, a block of alleyways near the tower. Here, the down and out and downright dirty congregated to do illicit business.

His latest book “The Badlands: Decadent Playground of Old Peking” breathes life into this formerly forgotten world. The slight volume sketches out the lives of a handful of Badlands residents, from the dancer Tatiana Korovina to the hermaphrodite and “King of the Badlands” Shura Giralidi.

Paul French has expanded on his historical research for Midnight in Peking to create a tiny but powerful glimpse into the world of a dangerous, seedy neighbourhood in ’30s Beijing.
In a series of short vignettes, we are introduced to the Badlands—a haven for vice that stretched from Wangfujing east past Chongwenmen and to the old City Wall—through the lives of eight foreigners who lived and worked there. Some portraits are more complete than others, like Tatiana Korovina, a Shanghai-born dancer whose parents fled Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution. Tatiana’s granddaughter contacted French after reading Midnight in Peking, and her stories and those of her global network of other White Russian families make up the bulk of the book’s content. Their input, together with archival documents, guided French to paint a particularly vivid portrait of Shura Giraldi, a gender-shifting, benevolent gangster known as the “King of the Badlands.”
But some characters, namely prostitutes-turned-heroin-addicts Marie and Peggy, are almost entirely fictional—their names are real, but their tragic stories are only based on likely scenarios. We applaud French for bringing historical data to life so engagingly, but we wish there were more true stories, and more photos. The 69-page book can easily be read in an afternoon, and even then some chapters seem to be fluffed out.
Page by Paul French - The Badlands: Decadent Playground
of Old Peking
French addresses this shortcoming of what he admits to be a “slender volume” in the introduction. It seems there is little to no recorded information of life in the Badlands that has survived time, travel and political change. But the author stands his ground in regard to how the stories he has found are worth telling, especially given how unknown they are even to the Beijing expats of today.
Foreigners, especially those who remember the old Sanlitun Bar Street, will want to look for comparisons to today, but the Badlands of 1937 were far scarier. Girls were sold into brothels at the age of 13, where insects crawled the walls and the sheets were never washed. Drug use was rampant, and heroin and opium addiction was supported by the occupying Japanese. The majority of foreigners were exiled Russians, who lived without passports, victims of the political turmoil of the time. China was at war. In many ways, The Badlands helps illustrate just how much Beijing has transformed, materially and socially. In comparison, things today are very harmonious indeed.
But, of course, there are moments we can all recognize. An image of an advertisement for Whisker’s Girl House in Shanghai entices clients with language reminiscent of today’s outcall massage ads. And, in a rare happy ending for this book, we also come away with the story of Tatiana and the half-Chinese, half-British cinema manager she fell in love with. There’s even a photo of Tatiana posing with his motorcycle, on which they whizzed around Beijing.
I left hungry for more, but excited to head out with the book’s map to try to see if I could still recognize vestiges of the Badlands left in Beijing.

The Romanov Sisters - Helen Rappaport

Romanov Sisters
They were the Princess Dianas of their day—perhaps the most photographed and talked about young royals of the early twentieth century. The four captivating Russian Grand Duchesses—Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov—were much admired for their happy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore and their privileged lifestyle.

Over the years, the story of the four Romanov sisters and their tragic end in a basement at Ekaterinburg in 1918 has clouded our view of them, leading to a mass of sentimental and idealized hagiography. With this treasure trove of diaries and letters from the grand duchesses to their friends and family, we learn that they were intelligent, sensitive and perceptive witnesses to the dark turmoil within their immediate family and the ominous approach of the Russian Revolution, the nightmare that would sweep their world away, and them along with it.

The Romanov Sisters sets out to capture the joy as well as the insecurities and poignancy of those young lives against the backdrop of the dying days of late Imperial Russia, World War I and the Russian Revolution. Rappaort aims to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing extensively on previously unseen or unpublished letters, diaries and archival sources, as well as private collections. It is a book that will surprise people, even aficionado.

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, there lived an inept king and a scorned queen (versions vary; in some she may be wicked, insane, abominable, all of the above). They needed an heir, but instead kept popping out princesses. At wit’s end, they sought the help of a wizard. Though he was “uncouth” and “sexually intimidating,” he granted their wishat last there was a cause to launch 301 gun salutes (girls warranted only 101), and the kingdom rejoiced. But what nobody knew was that the little tsarevich was gravely ill with a royal disease of the blood: A bang on the knee could lead to death. An entourage of doctors was helplessonly the wizard could bring the boy back from the brink of death. But the wizard had come to be reviled throughout the kingdom. As anybody could see, the family was in a bit of a bind. For a long time nothing happened (except, you know, some wars, pogroms, assassinations)
until a bullet flew into the archduke of Austria. The World went to War, our kingdom being no exception.

The wizard prophesied “calamity, much grief, no ray of light, an incalculable ocean of tears.” He gave up being a wizard and started drinking. The fairytale was taken hostage. Everyone was shot.

The Romanov sisters into an indiscriminate fairy princess amalgam, slammed a halo over it, and shot it up into the firmamentnot the worst of treatments, but a bit dismissive. Rappaport takes on the task of bringing the girls back to earth. She wants to return them their lives, which, though brief, went by slowly and painstakingly, day by uneventful day, page by agonizing page. She saves the sisters, but kills the interest. I complained about the tedium to my grandfather, who was born six years after the Romanovs’ murder, when the kingdom was already, as the wizard foretold, “drowned in much blood.” It’s so boring, I told him. The girls take baths, play hide-and-seek, drink tea, get measles, love each otherit’s unbearable! For a long time he was silent. Finally, he said, Yes, but those were their lives.
With so much at stake, it’s no surprise that the family clung to the notion of destiny. Rappaport’s main undertaking is to give the sisters back their individuality. The Romanovs themselves, however, undermine the effort. To their mother, Alexandra, they’re “the girlies.” Those girlies refer to themselves as OTMA (Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia). To the outside world they’re the Grand Duchessesalways the same “four light dresses, four gay summer hats.” From an early age, Alexandra dressed her daughters in “their own informal ‘uniform’ of matching colours, as two identifiable couplesthe ‘Big Pair’ and the ‘Little Pair’ as she called them.” The coupling makes sense. The big pair is prime princess stockthey are tall, slender, graceful; the little pair is shorter, fatter, clumsier, and, as if in compensation, more lovable.  
Rappaport does succeed in making each sister unique. Olga, the eldest, is “the most deep-feeling and sensitive.” She spends a good chunk of the book pining away for one or another of the swarthy officers with “splendid moustaches”; as a French journalist observed, she has “something of the serenity of the mystic.” Tatiana, second eldest, steals the show in two arenas: During the war, in the military hospitals, where her nursing skills and hard-working nature come to the front, and in photographs. She is arrestingly beautiful. But she is as cripplingly cautious and reserved as her mother, who taught her daughters that you should only reveal that something is wrong “when someone is dying.” If you need your wound dressed go to Tatiana, but if your soul is aching, Maria’s your girl. Though “not especially bright,” she is good-natured and stoical, endowed with “an earthy Russian quality not possessed by any of the other children.” Anastasia, nicknamed Shvybzik, German for “little mischief,” is a loose cannon. Starring in a series of plays staged by the tutors during the freezing winter of their Siberian imprisonment, she provides her grieving mother “the last heartily unrestrained laughter the Empress ever enjoyed.” Most importantly, for the book’s sake, her letters are actually entertaining.
The girls never bristled against being a collective. They spent all their time together and intended to keep it that way. Wherever they went, they were described as pretty and charming, except on one occasion, when the family sailed to Romania for a possible match for Olga to a Prince Carol. There they were “found not very pretty,” their faces “ugly as those of peasant women.” They’d sunned themselves to a crisp “so that Carol should not fall in love with any of them.” It wasn’t in Olga’s plans to marry another country’s prince: “‘I will never leave Russia,” she proclaimed. “I’m a Russian, and I mean to remain a Russian!’” But what did the sisters really know of Russia? Most of their time was spent in palaces and yachts, until the family was imprisoned. And their mother enforced a “virtually monastic life” (page-turner stuff!).
With the exception of one or two instances, Rappaport refrains from criticizing the Romanov parents. This can’t be easy, but it’s probably wise. Criticism implies the possibility of an alternative, whereas this is a tale of helplessness, of being “shackled to fate.” With so much at stake, it’s no surprise that the family clung to the notion of destiny. They had the mentality of prisoners long before they were imprisoned. Gradually, in sadistic increments, they were deprived of anything that brought them joy, forced into ever deteriorating conditionsbut no one ever put up resistance. “The family is bearing everything with great sangfroid and courage,” wrote Nicholas’ advisor, Prince Vasili Dolgorukov. “They apparently adapt to circumstances easily, or at least pretend to, and do not complain after all their previous luxury.” There are countless mentions of the Romanovs’ lack of complaint, eerie passivity, and composure. The day before the Romanovs were to be murdered, four women from the Union of Professional Housemaids came to clean the Ipatiev House. (It seems particularly Russian that they should come the day before.) Though they were forbidden to speak to the prisoners, they exchanged glances and worked together, as the girls were very eager to help. The women “were greatly moved by the girls’ quiet acceptance of their situation.” A few months prior, the girls were helping their father clear snow from the yard, and Maria was struggling with a broken spade. Therein lies the moral of our story: Do not to be born at the wrong time in the wrong placebut if you must, and your spade breaks, speak up

Marketing the Moon - David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek

If only people knew what NASA was doing!  It's possible that this great institution was shut down with the 2011 retirement of the Space Shuttle.  The US public are quite likely to believe that their government doesn’t support the ongoing and planned missions to the moon, Mars and, to quote Buzz Lightyear "to infinity and Beyond!" But as much as Pixar creates dreams, so did NASA - in fact it was vital - for funding, for ongoing support beyond the term of a single government and through the Korean and Vietnamese wars, the Iraq conflict and every possible distraction. 

Scott and Jurek are not space historians.  They're but rocketeer-marketeers!  In
 Marketing the Moon, detail the propaganda of a young space agency eager to use their public affairs office and public relations strategy to sell the \Apollo program. This was, believe it or not,  fifty years ago, when NASA, racing the Soviets to the Moon was or at least became a national past time.  

Early in their book we're affronted by marketing jargon. “We show how NASA’s Public Affairs staff, operating with a limited budget, made the most of what they had by adopting a ‘brand journalism’ and ‘content marketing’ approach to educate the public through the press and broadcast media,” or so reads the intro.   “Brand journalism”? Oh dear.  Please no!  Fortunately, the book also is a treasure trove of ephemera about the moon, from earliest trips in the mind's eye by the likes of Jules Verne, etc to the actual trips and the ongoing legacy on their return.  

While NASA wanted to tell the story of Apollo, there were limits to what it would do, part fiscal and part philosophical. “We are not buying refreshments, we are not supplying free trips,” Scheer wrote in a memo from that era; NASA was not performing “flackery.” Yet there is plenty of this because when you think of it, you're asking the public to buy in to the greatest fantasy of the day.  A question conveniently left out is the conspiratorial narrations about moon landings inHollywood studios.  Our authors will not entertain any ideas that any hoax's in fact occurs.  Armstrong's walk really happened.  No doubts.  

My favourite chapters examine a variety of other aspects of communicating the Apollo missions to the public, from the use of live television on the Apollo missions and how the television networks covered the missions, to publicity efforts before and immediately after Apollo, the latter including a fifty-state tour of the Apollo 11 command module and lunar rock in 1970 and 1971. While not a comprehensive history, it certainly ticks off all the major events.

But not all this marketing went well.  Eventually the public became jaded, perhaps due to the associations with military marketing, which used similar phrases and delivery.  Television showed even this, including the tragic loss of a teacher in a shuttle launch.  Questions of trust and viability started to creep in.   So, we’d be on Mars today if NASA was better at marketing? Probably not.  Even during Apollo, the public’s interest in NASA’s lunar expeditions didn’t translate into support for NASA: as the authors acknowledge, public opinion polls throughout the 1960s indicated the majority of the public thought the nation was spending too much on space. Mixed with the turmoil of the day and a disinterest in bold space exploration plans Nixon, had NASA been able to create clear and widely accepted visions of space exploration after Apollo, it would have been one of the greatest marketing feats of all time.

Marketing the Moon is a fascinating look at the marketing of Man's first missions and a reminder that space exploration  do not sell themselves and that getting buy in to do this stuff really is rocket science!

The Quick - Lauren Owen - Random House

"London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England."

This is Owen's first novel, though it doesn't seem naive or undercooked.  She knows how to create the world. And what a world she's created.  I loved this.  At the same time I was terrified.  It's a sophisticated Ripper Street, with hints of Conan-Doyle gothicism!  beguiling and terrifying. The suspense is almost agonising, but like a beautiful corpse you can't look away.  Nor should = but do not read this before sleeping - it will give you nightmares!