The Mission: Book summary and reviews of The Mission by David W. Brown

The Mission

A True Story

by David W. Brown

The Mission by David W. Brown X
The Mission by David W. Brown
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Book Summary

A masterful, genre-defying narrative of the most ambitious science project ever conceived: NASA's deep-space mission to Europa - the Jovian moon where might swim the first known alien life in our solar system - powered by a motley team of obsessives and eccentrics.

When scientists discovered the first ocean beyond Earth, they had two big questions: "Is it habitable?" and "How do we get there?" To answer the first, they had to answer the second, and so began a vivacious team's twenty-year odyssey to mount a mission to Europa, the ocean moon of Jupiter.

Standing in their way: NASA, fanatically consumed with landing robots on Mars; the White House, which never saw a science budget it couldn't cut; Congress, fixated on going to the moon or Mars—anywhere, really, to give astronauts something to do; rivals in academia, who wanted instead to go to Saturn; and even Jupiter itself, which guards Europa in a pulsing, rippling, radiation belt—a halo of death whose conditions are like those that follow a detonated thermonuclear bomb.

The Mission, or: How a Disciple of Carl Sagan, an Ex-Motocross Racer, a Texas Tea Party Congressman, the World's Worst Typewriter Saleswoman, California Mountain People, and an Anonymous NASA Functionary Went to War with Mars, Survived an Insurgency at Saturn, Traded Blows with Washington, and Stole a Ride on an Alabama Moon Rocket to Send a Space Robot to Jupiter in Search of the Second Garden of Eden at the Bottom of an Alien Ocean Inside of an Ice World Called Europa (A True Story) is the Homeric, never-before-told story of modern space exploration, and a magnificent portrait of the inner lives of scientists who study the solar system's mysterious outer planets. David W. Brown chronicles the remarkable saga of how Europa was won, and what it takes to get things done—down here, and up there.

Written with verve, humor, and uncanny empathy, The Mission is an exuberant masterclass in how a few determined cogs can change an entire machine.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Brown skillfully braids biography, science, obsession, and accounts of bureaucracy-wrangling into this mesmerizing tale of 'good, bare-fisted science.' Salted with pop culture references and humor, Brown's fascinating outing will entertain anyone curious about space exploration." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The inner workings of NASA through an enthusiastic account of an interplanetary probe to a distant moon...delightful." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Brown leaves no door closed as he covers the science, logistics, personalities, and politics of this extraordinary NASA mission. His extensively researched, humorous, raucous, dramatic, and pop-culture-and science-fiction-laced immersion in planetary science will have readers hanging on every word." - Booklist

"This inspiring story provides a look into some of the characteristics needed to make change in a large industrial complex...An engaging read for all, especially for anyone curious about the details of space exploration." - Library Journal

"With deftness and vigor, David W. Brown brings to life the intricate science, the historical heft and, most exquisitely, the beating hearts at the center of his sprawling, immersive story. With rich characters, an epic struggle and a Herculean resolve, The Mission is an extraordinary tale, extraordinarily told." - Megan Abbott, bestselling author of Dare Me and Give Me Your Hand

"Europa is the sparkly jewel of the Jupiter system and learning its mysteries is a delight, but it's the people and their dreams and their stories that shine in The Mission. David W. Brown deftly weaves together the science, the history, and the politics to write the definitive account of one of NASA's most exciting upcoming missions." - Dr. Mike Brown, Caltech astronomer and author of How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming

"Absolutely riveting from the very first page. David W. Brown is a beautiful writer who brings this incredible story to life in sharp, surprising prose. It is a true pleasure to read." - Aryn Kyle, award-winning author of The God of Animals and Boys and Girls Like You and Me

"This is one of the most impressive works of nonfiction I've ever read. It defies genre in many ways. It's science, yes, but it's driven by characters—brilliant, real-life scientists with contagious determination. David W. Brown turns complex planetary science into lyrical, accessible prose... It was compulsively readable and astonishing in scholarship." - Erin Entrada Kelly, Newbery Medal-winning author of Hello, Universe

This information about The Mission shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

David W. Brown

David W. Brown is a freelance writer whose nonfiction appears frequently in the Atlantic, the New York Times, Scientific American, and Smithsonian. His other publishers include the New Yorker, Vox, and Foreign Policy. He is an Antarctic expeditioner, an endurance runner, a former Army paratrooper, and a veteran of Afghanistan. He is a graduate of Louisiana State University and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Arkansas at Monticello. The Mission is his fourth book. Brown lives in New Orleans.

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