The Space Barons by Christian Davenport: Book Review

The Space Barons by Christian Davenport Book Cover

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The Space Barons by Christian Davenport Book Cover
Title: The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos

Synopsis from GoodReads:

The historic quest to rekindle the human exploration and colonization of space led by two rivals and their vast fortunes, egos, and visions of space as the next entrepreneurial frontier

The Space Barons is the story of a group of billionaire entrepreneurs who are pouring their fortunes into the epic resurrection of the American space program. Nearly a half-century after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, these Space Barons-most notably Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, along with Richard Branson and Paul Allen-are using Silicon Valley-style innovation to dramatically lower the cost of space travel, and send humans even further than NASA has gone. These entrepreneurs have founded some of the biggest brands in the world-Amazon, Microsoft, Virgin, Tesla, PayPal-and upended industry after industry. Now they are pursuing the biggest disruption of all: space.

Based on years of reporting and exclusive interviews with all four billionaires, this authoritative account is a dramatic tale of risk and high adventure, the birth of a new Space Age, fueled by some of the world’s richest men as they struggle to end governments’ monopoly on the cosmos. The Space Barons is also a story of rivalry-hard-charging startups warring with established contractors, and the personal clashes of the leaders of this new space movement, particularly Musk and Bezos, as they aim for the moon and Mars and beyond.

My Review:

Originally read and reviewed on GoodReads on October 31, 2018.

3.5 stars rounded up.

This was fascinating, but I’m not sure why it’s called Space Baron*S*. The author came across as a huge fan of Elon Musk; I would guess at least 80% of the book is about Musk and SpaceX. That could be because SpaceX seems to be the company that’s really speeding forward, or maybe because Bezos and BlueOrigin are very secretive. It could also be because Bezos owns the Washington Post, where the author works. He might be trying so hard to be balanced and fair in his reporting that he focused too much on Musk instead. Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Paul Allen’s company (the name escapes me and I’ve returned the book already), are barely footnotes.

The whole thing could have used one more good copyedit; some things were worded really awkwardly (As I suspect this review is. Forgive a tired reviewer, please), and sometimes the same information was presented twice in quick succession.

Still, I enjoyed learning more about our private sector space companies and found myself idly daydreaming about taking a vacation on the moon when I’m an old woman. These guys believe it will happen, and it’s impossible not to share their dreams.

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    1. I like that the private sector has pushed us toward reusable parts and sort of gotten our programs kickstarted again, but I would otherwise feel better about it all if it were still under government purview. It just feels like there are a lot of ways for us to regret letting it fall into the private sector.

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