Two Sides of the Moon: Our Story of the Cold War Space Race

Two Sides of the Moon: Our Story of the Cold War Space Race


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"An extraordinary book."
—-Arthur C. Clarke

Space was one of the most fiercely fought battlegrounds of the Cold War, the Moon its ultimate beachhead.

In this dual autobiography, Apollo 15 commander David Scott and cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the first man to ever walk in space, recount their exceptional lives and careers spent on the cutting edge of science and space exploration—and their participation in the greatest technological race ever—to land a man on the Moon.

With each mission fraught with perilous tasks, and each space program touched by tragedy, these parallel tales of adventure and heroism read like a modern-day thriller. Cutting fast between their differing recollections, this book reveals, in a very personal way, the drama of one of the most ambitious contests ever embarked on by man, set against the conflict that once held the world in suspense: the clash between Communism and Western democracy.

Through the men's memoirs, their courage, passion for exploration, and determination to push themselves to the limit, emerge not only through their triumphs but also through their perseverance in times of extraordinary difficulty and danger.

"Two Sides of the Moon is unique among space histories. If you are looking for a balanced, interesting, and personal account of the American and Soviet space programs during the 1960s and 1970s this is it."
—-Astronomy magazine

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312308667
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/21/2006
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 224,993
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

David Scottis one of the twelve men to have walked on the Moon. He flew three space missions: first as pilot of Gemini 8 in 1966, then as command module pilot on Apollo 9 in 1969, and finally as commander of Apollo 15 in 1971.

Alexei Leonov was among the first group of cosmonauts selected in 1960 and flew two space missions: first as pilot of Voskhod 2 in 1965 and then in 1975 as commander of Soyuz 19 during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.


Christine Toomey, cowriter, is an award-winning journalist with the Sunday Times (London).

Read an Excerpt

Two Sides of the Moon

By David Scott, Alexei Leonov, Christine Toomey

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2004 David Scott and Alexei Leonov
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-5927-2


High on Flight


Alexei Leonov

Temperatures drop to below –50°C in the small village of Listvyanka, Central Siberia, USSR, where I was born on 30 May 1934. As a small child I used to listen at night for the sound of branches in the wood next to our log cabin, heavy with ice, cracking and splitting. The water from the mountain stream feeding our deep well steamed as we lifted its wooden cover to break off icicles, which my brothers and I sucked for fresh water.

The stars were always so clear in that remote place that I could easily believe the story my mother told me about a thousand torches being lit on the surface of the Moon at the end of each day to illuminate the night.

But I was just three years old when we were forced to leave our home on the outskirts of our small village, Listvyanka, near Mariinsk. It was January 1938, deep winter and unimaginably cold, when neighbors arrived at our home to strip it bare. They took our food, our furniture, even the clothes off our backs. One neighbor ordered me to remove my trousers and left me standing there in only a long shirt.

I remember, vividly, running through the larch forest, frozen and frightened, to meet an older sister, who was coming home to visit that day.

"There's nothing to eat," I wailed. "Mother's crying." When my sister handed me two large loaves of bread I tucked them under my arms and tried to run home with them. But I was small and the loaves were heavy. I kept dropping them, picking them up and running on.

Our family had become destitute after my father, Arkhip Alexeyevich, was accused of being an "enemy of the people." He was sent to prison on the strength of the false testimony of a corrupt co-worker. He was not alone: many were being arrested. It was part of a conscientious drive by the authorities to eradicate anyone who showed too much independence or strength of character. These were the years of Stalin's purges. Many disappeared into remote gulags and were never seen again. We did not know then the extent to which it was happening.

In those days my father supported Stalin and his policy of collectivization. He believed in Bolshevism and the ideals of the revolution. But my family's support of revolutionary ideals went back even further to the first Russian Revolution of 1905, when my mother's father was exiled for revolutionary activities from Lugansk, in the Ukraine, where he worked as a mechanic in a flour mill and organized illegal workers' strikes. From Lugansk my grandfather moved first to Rostov and then to Siberia, where he found work as a miner.

As a young man my father also worked as a coal miner in Shakty, close to Rostov, until he was conscripted into the army at the start of the First World War. When the war was over he also moved to Siberia, then an area of greater economic freedom. There he married my mother and became a peasant farmer on the outskirts of Listvyanka. My parents had twelve children — seven girls and five boys — but two of my brothers and one sister died, leaving nine of us.

My father was eventually elected chairman of the village council of Listvyanka and donated everything he had to the local collective, including his pride and joy, a horse he had bred to be swift and strong enough to thrive in the Siberian winter. Soon afterward the head of the collective, a Tatar as far as I remember, slaughtered my father's horse for meat. When my father swore vengeance the Tatar concocted a story about my father allowing seeds for the next year's harvest to dry out. My father was thrown into jail without trial.

As we were then regarded as the family of an "enemy of the people," we were branded subversives. Our neighbors were encouraged to come and take from us whatever they wanted. It became a free-for-all. My elder brother and sisters were thrown out of school. We were about to lose our house. We had no choice but to leave our village.

We had nowhere to go but to live with another of my elder sisters, who had recently married and was working on the construction site of a power station in Kemerovo, several hundred kilometers away. She and her husband, who also worked at the plant, had been given one room in a workers' dormitory near the factory. My mother, then pregnant, five sisters, older brother and I, the youngest, were taken by horse and cart to the railway station to join them. I cried bitterly that I did not want to go. We had only a few blankets to keep us warm.

I remember how tenderly my brother-in-law treated me when he met us at the train station. He collected us in a large horse-drawn sledge, laid us children like sardines on the floor and covered us with his overcoat. As we rode toward the factory dormitory he kept asking me "Are you cold, Lonya?" (that was my nickname as a child). "Yes I'm cold," I said and he would stop the sleigh and tuck his sheepskin tighter round me before carrying on.

We lived, eleven of us, in a sixteen-square-meter room for the next two years. I slept, under a bed, on the floor.

My father was eventually absolved of any wrongdoing. His former commanding officer in the Division of Latvian Riflemen, during the First World War, demanded a proper trial be held for my father, whom he had greatly respected as a soldier. Not only was my father paid compensation for wrongful imprisonment but he was offered the position of head of the collective, to replace the brutal and dishonest Tatar. My father chose instead to join us in Kemerovo, and he found a job in the power plant where my sister and brother-in-law worked. My father had a very strong character; he was an individual. He never joined the Communist Party, but he soon became a person of some standing in the local community. The work went well. He was issued with one of the few loudspeakers connected to the community radio station — used to disseminate news and information — as a mark of the high regard in which he was held.

Our family was allocated two extra rooms in the workers' dormitory. With his compensation money my father bought some basic furniture, kitchen implements and an overcoat for each child; he still could not afford shoes for all of us. From then on we were regarded as one of the wealthiest families in Kemerovo. We were the only family in the dormitory who owned a sausage-making machine. We became known as "The Leonovs with the meat mincer." We were not so short of food after that. But life was still hard.

I used to earn extra bread for the family by drawing pictures on the whitewashed stoves of our neighbors' rooms. I loved to draw, and my parents encouraged me, buying me paints and pencils. Paper was in short supply, so I used wrapping paper. Later I earned extra money by painting canvases for our neighbors to cover their bare plaster walls. My painting slowly became a family enterprise; my father helped me stretch bedsheets over a simple wooden frame. I then turned them into rough canvases by preparing them with flour mixed with animal glue, and decorated them with oil paintings of mountains and woodland scenes. From a very early age I had a strong ambition to become an artist.

Then, when I was about six, I was overwhelmed by a competing ambition: to become a pilot. It happened the first time I set eyes on a Soviet pilot, who had come to stay with one of our neighbors. I remember how dashing he looked in his dark-blue uniform with a snow-white shirt, navy tie and crossed leather belts spanning his broad chest. I was so impressed I used to follow him around, admiring him from a distance.

One day he noticed me creeping along behind him. "Why are you following me?" he asked and I told him straight. "I want to be like you, to look like you, one day."

"Why not?" he replied. "There is nothing stopping you if that is what you really want. But in order to become a pilot you must be physically strong. You must study hard and each morning you must wash your face and hands with soap."

Like most little boys I was not too keen on soap and water. But then he asked, "Do you promise to follow this advice?"

I could hardly reply quickly enough. "Yes, I do," I promised and I ran home, took a bar of soap and washed my face vigorously. Then, every time I saw the pilot, I ran to him to show him my clean face and hands. He would smile and nod his approval.

After that I relished watching Soviet films about pilots whenever they were shown in the local House of Culture cinema club. I remember one called Courage and another, Interceptors, about a fighter pilot and a small boy whose life he saved. I loved those films. I must have seen them more than a dozen times. I started to make models of all sorts of planes in the Soviet Air Force. Later there was a book I came to love too, called A Novel of a Real Man, about a fighter pilot whose legs were amputated after a crash landing, who learned not only to walk again but to dance and eventually fly, too. I kept that book by my bed for many years. It taught me that you should never give up under any circumstances.

David Scott

The thirty de Havilland Jenny biplanes flying in tight formation in the cloudless Texan sky spelled out the letters "USA." Bending down toward me, I remember my mother pointing to the tip of the letter "S" and shouting to make herself heard above the roar of the engines.

"There's your dad, Davy!" she said, taking my hand. As I sat on my tricycle in the front yard of our house at Randolph Field, San Antonio, transfixed by the sight of these beautiful open-cockpit airplanes swooping effortlessly above, my mother pulled out a box camera and captured the spectacle on film.

Her photograph of that day took pride of place in my father's den. Though I can't have been more than three when it was taken, it always reminded me of the moment in my childhood when I became hooked on the idea of becoming a pilot, just like my dad. After that I sometimes slipped on my father's brown leather Army Air Corps flying jacket with its big fur collar and his leather helmet and goggles and imagined I, too, was soaring over our house at Randolph airfield (after which I had been given my middle name). His dress uniform of formal jacket, breeches, Sam Brown belt and ceremonial saber was far too big for me to try on. But that flying jacket seemed a perfect fit to a small boy — even if it did hang down to my ankles.

It was not until I was twelve that my father was able to take me up in a plane with him for the first time; Air Corps regulations were very strict. But sometimes when I was a young boy, he sat me in the cockpit of a plane on the airstrip and let me get the feel of the controls. Other times he would drop little parachutes, each weighted with a small stone, out of the cockpit of his plane as he flew over our back yard. Wrapped round the stone were simple messages to me like "To David, love Dad." Those little notes fluttering down in the breeze further fueled my determination to take to the skies one day for my own airborne adventures.

Yet my father, Tom William Scott, had taken to flying only by chance, following a bet at a Friday night party. He had put himself through college by working in the oilfields of southern California and spent the summers drilling holes and pumping oil to save enough money both for his tuition and to support his mother after she and my grandfather divorced. My grandmother had moved to Fresno, California, and then Los Angeles from Wichita, Kansas, following the breakdown of her marriage and, though he never liked to talk about it, that must have been a tough time for my father.

After graduating from university he'd taken an administrative job in a Hollywood film studio. But one Friday night at a party he and a friend were set the challenge of passing the physical for the Army Air Corps. The following Saturday they took the test, passed and got signed up. Two days later my father quit his job at the studio and went to fly. He was trained as what was known in those days as a "pursuit pilot"; the term "fighter pilot" was not widely used before the Second World War. Yet this was only ten years after the end of the First World War, the time of the Great Depression. The Army Air Corps didn't have much money and so he flew all the old biplanes, like the de Havilland Jennies. But he loved to fly those old planes. It was his whole life. By the time I was born he had become an instructor and so was home a lot, except when he had to go on tour to promote the Army Air Corps.

My father was of Scots descent, very frugal. We didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up, but we had a good life; the military looked after you. After my parents married and my father was posted to Randolph Field, where I was born on 6 June 1932, we lived in a big, stucco-fronted, two-story house. From the stifling heat of San Antonio, in the days before air-conditioning, we were then moved briefly to an air base in Indiana before my father was posted to the Philippines.

Just before Christmas 1936 we boarded an old army transport ship bound for Manila, in the Philippines, where we were to stay in some comfort for the next three years. With a small army of servants to take care of the house chores, my mother was free to enjoy bridge and mah-jong parties and to travel widely. Both my parents took trips to China, though separately because of the risks involved. Following Japan's invasion of China in 1937, the region was hurtling headlong toward war, as, halfway round the world, Europe was too. But, being a young boy, I was oblivious of all of this. After a mule cart brought me home from school each day I was more concerned with learning how to climb coconut trees.

There was always strict discipline at home, however. My father was very stern, but loving. He had a strong, crisp voice. I always addressed him as "sir" and my mother as "ma'am," and we sat down to a formal dinner every evening. My father set very high standards. He was well organized and neat, and expected me to be the same. He made the rules clear and I followed the rules: you did back then. Any time I stepped out of line I was made to sit in a corner facing the wall. I was quite quiet as a child, not timid but reserved. This sometimes frustrated my father, who'd tell me to "Go out there and mix it up."

I remember, when I was six, attending my first "swim meet" in the Philippines. It was a race, but I didn't know the rules. When the starter gun went off I looked around and waited for all the other boys to dive in the water. Once they were in, I thought, "OK, now it's my turn," and jumped in. I thought that's what I was supposed to do — be polite. Of course I came in last. My father was pretty unhappy about that. He explained in no uncertain terms that we were all supposed to get in the water at the same time.

"Don't wait for the other boys. Go at the start," he told me. My father was a tough guy. He pushed me pretty hard.

Around the same time I remember going out with my father in a small motor launch to meet the ocean liner my mother was returning on from a visit to China. The wind was blowing hard and we were out there bobbing about in a rough sea.

"There's your mom up there at the railing," my father boomed. "Wave to your mom." I really wasn't in any mood to appear cheerful: I still remember how uncomfortable I felt out there in that small boat. But there was nothing else for it but to say "Yes, sir" and wave.

When my father received orders in December 1939 to return to the United States I was seven. I was well aware that the transport ship carrying us home was the last setting sail from the Philippines with military men on board. From then on only women and children were allowed to leave. A lot of my father's friends were left behind and many died in the subsequent fighting. Two years after we arrived home the storm that had been gathering while we were in the Far East unleashed itself on the United States and my small world was turned upside down.

The radio news flash on 7 December 1941 that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor galvanized my father. He put me straight in the car and we drove down to the drugstore to buy a newspaper. It seemed no time at all before he received orders to go "overseas." No one knew where "overseas" meant. I had no idea then that I would not see my father for the next three years.

We were back living in San Antonio, Texas, at that time and, after my father left, my mother decided to sell our big house and move to a smaller place. I had a baby brother, Tom, seven and a half years younger, by then. My mother had a pretty active social life, so I did a lot of babysitting. With my father gone and rationing introduced, my mother bought me a small motor scooter so that I could get to school and home on my own. Tom used to love me taking him for rides on that bike. My mother had a gentler personality than my father did, and it was decided that, while my father was away in the war, I needed more discipline.

So I was enrolled in a small military school run by Episcopalians. It was very strict. We wore uniforms. We marched. We were issued with ranks. If we smarted off to any of our teachers we might pick up a slap across the backside and be held in detention after school.


Excerpted from Two Sides of the Moon by David Scott, Alexei Leonov, Christine Toomey. Copyright © 2004 David Scott and Alexei Leonov. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Foreword by Neil Armstrong,
Introduction by Tom Hanks,
Chapter 1: High on Flight,
Chapter 2: Cold War Warriors,
Chapter 3: Red Star, White Star,
Chapter 4: A Fair Solar Wind,
Chapter 5: Death of a Visionary,
Chapter 6: A Violent Tumble,
Chapter 7: Dark Side of the Moon,
Chapter 8: Did You See God?,
Chapter 9: The Eagle and the Bear,
Chapter 10: In the Footsteps of Captain Cook,
Chapter 11: Cowboy from Siberia,
Chapter 12: Smooth as a Peeled Egg,

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