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Strange Angel The Otherworldly Life Of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons (Paperback)

Author:  George Pendle
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FORMAT: Paperback
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Learn more about Strange Angel:

Format: Paperback
ISBN-10: 0156031795
ISBN-13: 9780156031790
Sku: 31188177
Publish Date: 4/10/2007
Pages:  350
Age Range:  NA
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After his untimely death in 1952, maverick rocketeer John Parsons was revealed to have been a follower of occultist Aleister Crowley and was promptly written off as an embarrassment to science. Here, Pendle recovers a fascinating life and explores the unruly consequences of genius.
From the Publisher:
ROCKET SCIENTIST KILLED IN PASADENA EXPLOSION screamed the headline of the Los Angeles Times. John Parsons, a maverick rocketeer who helped transform the rocket from a derided sci-fi plotline into a reality, was at first mourned as a scientific prodigy. But reporters soon uncovered a more shocking story: Parsons had been a devotee of black magic.

George Pendle re-creates the world of John Parsons in this dazzling portrait of prewar superstition, cold war paranoia, and futuristic possibility. Fueled by childhood dreams of space flight, Parsons was a leader of the motley band of enthusiastic young men who founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a cornerstone of the American space program. But Parsons's wild imagination also led him into the occult- for if he could make rocketry a reality, why not magic?

With a cast of characters including Howard Hughes,
L. Ron Hubbard, and Robert Heinlein, Strange Angel explores the unruly consequences of genius.

Proof that you don't necessarily need a degree--or even to be completely sane--to be a rocket scientist, Pasadena-born John Whiteside Parsons dropped out of college soon after his passion for experimenting with rocket propulsion, driven by a youthful obsession with science fiction magazines, led to one unauthorized explosion too many. He became a largely self-taught chemical and explosives expert, eventually joining the team at CalTech that in the 1940s developed the first solid rocket fuel, a crucial component in jet propulsion and space travel. However, there was another side to Parsons--he believed himself to be the Antichrist. Deeply involved with black magic, he was a member of the same Aleister Crowley cult that led L. Ron Hubbard to develop his science fiction-based religion of Scientology. Eventually largely disowned by an industry whose increasingly corporate structure had no time for a maverick genius, spawn of Satan or not, Parsons died in an explosion while experimenting with chemicals in the mid-'50s. British science journalist George Pendle's fascinating biography of one of the unsung heroes of modern rocket science reconciles the two seemingly opposing sides of Parsons' character in a compelling blend of science and necromancy, with a dose of unbridled human imagination thrown in.


Publishers Weekly
"Pendle...knows how to construct a story, especially when it comes to the trials and tribulations of experimental technology....All of which makes this book readable and engrossing." 07/31/2005

Observer (London)
"The author skilfully steers us through the quagmire of Parsons's personal life to place him on the pedestal that he deserves, so that we may admire his remarkable legacy to modern rocket science." 08/21/2005

Product Attributes

Product attributeeBooks:   Kobo
Product attributeBook Format:   Paperback
Product attributeNumber of Pages:   0350
Product attributePublisher:   Harvest Books
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