red moon rising

Category: Nonfiction
Reviewed by Clifford R. McMurray
Title: Red Moon Rising: How America Will Beat China on the Final Frontier
Author: Greg Autry and Peter Navarro
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Pages: 260
Publisher: Post Hill Press
Date: April 2024
Retail Price: $19.99/$9.99
ISBN: 979-8888455166
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America won its first space race with the USSR quite handily, coming from behind after Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin’s flight to put Americans on the Moon in less than a decade. Now, say the authors of this book, we are in a new space race with another power equally deserving of the name “evil empire,” and the stakes are just as high this time around. Whether America or China wins this space race is yet to be determined. Authors Greg Autry (who is NSS Vice President for Space Development) and Peter Navarro argue that “Space Race 2.0” is a race America can’t afford to lose. They are unapologetic in calling out the Chinese government as imperialist, expansionist, and authoritarian, and claiming that if China wins the current space race it will use the power that victory gives them to dominate the world, to the sorrow and detriment of freedom-loving people everywhere.

The authors begin with a survey of the many benefits we currently receive from space, services so intimately interwoven with our daily lives (weather and communications satellites, for example) that we barely notice them. They list the technological benefits already knocking at the door (drugs and other products manufactured in space), and the limitless wealth-generating resources that await the first nations to mine the Moon and asteroids. They then proceed to walk through the history of the United States in space before, during and after the first space race, reaching back as far as World War II. Each chapter ends with a “Lessons Learned” section pointing to the policies America needs to adopt in order to remain first in space.

All this is very well, but it covers ground that has been covered many times before in other books, material that most NSS readers know quite well. But with a title like “Red Moon Rising,” I think it’s fair to say that most readers would expect to learn more about the Chinese space efforts than about American space history. China’s space story is the one we’re much less familiar with. It’s a story that deserves more than just a “by the way” couple of chapters. I think the authors are absolutely right: so long as it remains a communist dictatorship, China supremacy in space is an existential threat to freedom. That being the case, we should read a lot more about what our geopolitical enemy has done, and what it plans to do. The balance of the book seems off.

As a history of how we got to where we are in space at this point, and an argument of why space is now an indispensable part of our economic life and worthy of further investment, this book is a good thumbnail overview for anyone unfamiliar with the subject. In fact, it’s a very good book to give to someone you want to educate about the importance of space to everyone’s future. But devoting so much of the book to these subjects, and so comparatively little to talking about what China has done and is doing to beat us in the second space race, makes its title more than a tiny bit misleading. The subtitle of the book is much more descriptive of its contents.

© 2024 Clifford R. McMurray
NSS index of over 400 book reviews

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