Houston Matters

The Political Will That Took Us To The Moon Is Hard To Imagine Today

Presidential historian and Rice University professor Douglas Brinkley discusses his book, American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race.

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the moon during Apollo 11 in 1969.

American Moonshot BookThis summer marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

Most people recall the space race was largely motivated by a desire to eclipse our Cold War enemies, the Soviet Union. But, in our current political climate, it might be hard to imagine an American president successfully galvanizing an entire nation toward a single, monumental goal as John F. Kennedy did in the 1960s.

That included his famous “we choose to go to the moon” speech, delivered at Rice University on Sept. 12, 1962.

John. F. Kennedy - We Choose to Go to the Moon Speech, Rice Univ.
Pres. John. F. Kennedy delivers his famous “We Choose to Go to the Moon” speech at the Rice University football stadium on Sept. 12, 1962.

Historian and Rice University professor Douglas Brinkley documents the strategic political maneuvering and the Herculean scientific effort that took us to the moon in his book, American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race.

In the audio above, Brinkley tells Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty just why Pres. Kennedy was so convinced that America needed to go to the moon.

Brinkley will discuss the book at a Brazos Bookstore event on April 8.

Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley
Presidential historian and Rice University professor Douglas Brinkley.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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