The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968

Book Reviews

This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury. By Lloyd S. Swen-
son, Jr., James M. Grimwood, and Charles C. Alexander. Fore-
word by Melvin Kransberg. Washington, D. C. (National Aero-
nautics and Space Administration Special Publication 4201), 1966.
Pp. ix+681. Illustrations, appendices, bibliography, index. Avail-
able from Superintendent of Documents, Government printing
office. $5.50.
Intended as a historical narrative of the origins, preparation, and
nature of America's first achievements in manned space flight, This
New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury is an accurate and com-
prehensive account of a major technological effort on the part of the
United States. The authors, professional historians, had access to both
documents and participants in the first American manned space flight
The impetus for Project Mercury dates from President Eisenhower's
signature of the bill that created the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) in July, 1958, to carry forward the experi-
mental and manned exploration of space by the United States.
In tracing the history of Project Mercury the authors developed in
narrative form and expanded on material available in major reports
such as those of each of the sub-orbital and orbital flights, Project
Mercury, A Chronology by James M. Grimwood, and the lengthy
Mercury Project Summary. The detailed and inclusive footnoting and
lengthy bibliography are testimony to the care with which the authors
collated earlier material to produce their more sophisticated text. The
book is at times exciting, at times. interesting and factual, and occa-
sionally distracting due to repetition.
The first of the three sections into which the book is divided is
entitled "Research" and is authored by Charles G. Alexander, Asso-
ciate Professor of History at the University of Georgia. Alexander
traces the history of the development of aircraft from the Wright
Brothers' airplane to the experimental X-15, and reviews the story of
rocketry from Goddard's simple rockets, through the German V-2
rocket to the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). The latter

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed August 1, 2014.