Summary of Von Braun

Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War

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Von Braun book summary
Wernher von Braun, America’s space superstar, saw a glorious future and tried to leave his Nazi past behind


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When German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun came to the U.S. after World War II to build rockets for the Americans, he became famous as a brilliant visionary engineer, as a manager of complex technology projects and as a charismatic, handsome genius in his field. Walt Disney made memorable TV shows about von Braun’s contribution to science, and Collier’s magazine spotlighted him and his plans for manned spaceflights. Neither Disney nor Collier’s included details of von Braun’s past – and his Faustian bargain with the Nazis – but aeronautics historian Michael J. Neufeld’s biography covers it all. He captures von Braun’s entire story, from child prodigy obsessed with rockets to SS major developing deadly V-2 rockets for Germany to science celebrity living large in America. getAbstract recommends this book to anyone who wants to learn about von Braun’s remarkable intellectual gifts, his singular accomplishments, his Nazi past, his contributions to the U.S. space program and, due to his televised teaching, the country’s overall acceptance of the wonder of science.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Who Wernher von Braun was
  • How he designed and built deadly V-2 rockets for Nazi Germany
  • How he became America’s premier rocket scientist
  • How he helped pioneer the U.S. space program


The Wunderkind
In 1912, Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun was born to a family of aristocrats in Prussia. His father, Magnus, a hereditary baron, held a series of civil service positions, rising and falling with the political winds. In 1920, he took a job in Berlin, where Wernher...
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About the Author

Historian Michael J. Neufeld chairs the Smithsonian Institution’s Space History Division. His book, The Rocket and the Reich: Peenemünde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era, won two prestigious history awards.

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