Book review: “Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space,” by Lynn Sherr

Sally Ride

Sally Ride

Full disclosure: I wanted to be Sally Ride. When I was a graduate student in physics, I applied to be an astronaut and would have entered NASA in 1978, along with Ride, if I had been chosen. I had a second chance to blast free from Earth when I became a finalist in the journalist-in-space competition, until the Challenger disaster in 1986 put an end to that contest.

To my disappointment, I never had the opportunity to meet Ride, but Lynn Sherr has provided the next best thing: a biography of America’s first woman in space that is riveting, beautifully written and rich in detail, largely because of the cooperation of family and colleagues in sharing reminiscences and correspondence.

In the Washington Post.

Marcia Bartusiak

About Marcia Bartusiak

Combining her training as a journalist with a graduate degree in physics, Marcia Bartusiak has been covering the fields of astronomy and physics for more than three decades and has published in a variety of publications, including Science, Smithsonian, Discover, National Geographic, Astronomy. and Natural History. Her latest books are Black Hole: How An Idea Abandoned by Newtonians, Hated by Einstein, and Gambled on by Hawking Became Loved and The Day We Found the Universe, about the birth of modern cosmology in the 1920s, which was reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a small wonder” and received the History of Science Society’s 2010 Davis Prize for best history of science book for the public. Bartusiak has also written Thursday's Universe, a guide to the frontiers of astrophysics; Through a Universe Darkly, a history of astronomers' quest to discover the universe's composition; and Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony, a chronicle of the international attempt to detect cosmic gravity waves (which was updated and republished in the summer of 2017). Each was named a notable book by the New York Times. Another of her books, Archives of the Universe, a history of the major discoveries in astronomy told through 100 of the original scientific publications, is used in introductory astronomy courses across the nation. In 2006 Bartusiak received the prestigious Gemant Award from the American Institute of Physics for her significant contributions to the cultural, artistic, and humanistic dimension of physics and in 2008 was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for “exceptionally clear communication of the rich history, the intricate nature, and the modern practice of astronomy to the public at large.”