Apr 19, 2020dixithanoop rated this title 4.5 out of 5 stars
This book was truly the most investigative of all non-fictions I've read this year. The amount of research that has gone into the writing of the historical quirks, chronologies, stories embedded in this book is enormous. The picked up this book because I'm getting more and more interested as well inspired by private space entrepreneurship - including space tourism, reusable rockets, cargo logistics, economically cheaper private contracts, extraterrestrial mining, satellites, and of course, the actual R&D, and exploration beyond our beautiful planet Earth. After all, it's about the space – the final frontier. On involving me immensely on those lines, the book didn't disappoint me one bit.
As you would have already guessed, the book is about the latest breed of barons - the space barons. But unlike robber barons and oil barons (or even bitcoin barons), the space barons were ALREADY rich before they became that, and it's that riches they're pouring into space exploration, for a variety of reasons, profits is a primary one among which. The book is mostly about, obviously, SpaceX of Musk, Blue Origin of Bezos, Virgin Galactic of Branson which is also immensely contributed towards by Microsoft legend Paul Allen(Stratolaunch Systems). However, the book is so detailed that it also includes various other firms and barons whose stories get intertwined with the mainstream space exploration. Andy Beal of "The Corporation" of gambling, Kistler Aerospace etc. The 800 pound gorilla - like antagonists of the story are the usual suspects - Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
More the companies themselves, the book is also largely a testament to the ambitions and tenacity of the founders, most notable of Bezos and Musk. NASA gossiping about Musk as "There will be bumps, but he will not fail" is a compliment as good as any for Falcon rockets. And for Bezos, this was all in his to-do list from way back, as evidenced by his valedictorian speech which was about...space. He said "Space, the final frontier, meet you there".
The book keeps you captivated with stories that you'd have never heard of, like Bezos almost dying from a crash when he was looking for places in Texas for Blue Origin; his Zelfram LLC fake corporation that bough all the Texas ranches and named them after frontier explorers like James Cook and William Clark; Bezos's extreme brainstorming for building rockets that included even a bull whip as long as train before settling on chemical rockets; Musk's audacious Falcon roadshow; Bezos's and Musk's grandfathers' entrepreneurship stories and those of their will for exploring new frontiers; Branson's catastrophic transatlantic boat ride and many more of that sort!
Overall, the thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who'd love to read how an industry shapes itself because of the capability of a few to dream and accomplish.