Interview series with the authors of “Into that Silent Sea,” French and Burgess, Part one

Today in Space History (TISH) has been granted an exclusive opportunity to interview authors Francis French and Colin Burgess based on their book “Into That Silent Sea,” which TISH highly recommends. This is part one.

Archives for the complete interview series | one | two | three | four | five | six | seven | eight | Nine | Ten | Eleven | Twelve | Thirteen

How did the idea for “Into that Silent Sea ” come about and how does it fill a niche in spaceflight history books or literature?

FF: Colin Burgess and I had collaborated on a number of magazine writing projects in the past, and Colin has also published a number of very successful and well-received space books such as “Fallen Astronauts” and “Teacher in Space.” I was delighted when he asked me to consider working with him on a new project.

The themes of “Into That Silent Sea” evolved as we did a large amount of research and uncovered a number of interesting contacts and tales. We knew that we wanted to tell some little-known stories, investigating not only the spacefarers but also the technicians, wives and others who contributed a huge amount to the program but are frequently overlooked. Additionally, the Soviet program is one that frequently gets less attention in American-published books, and yet there are some wonderful human tales there waiting to be told. The first decade of manned spaceflight is one that many thought had been exhausted for new stories, but we found there were a number of areas where little-known stories could be brought to light or reinterpreted.In the end, we had the kind of book I always wanted to read – one that gave equal weight to the Soviet and American spacefarers, answered some lingering questions, and gave insights into their personalities.

CB: Some years back I wrote a children’s book detailing the history of human space flight from the aspect of both American and Russian achievements, and I’d often thought that concept would translate well into an adult book. Surprisingly, very few authors had presented this ‘balanced’ story of the Space Race; nor had many thought to humanize this monumental endeavor by telling us something about the lives, influences and inspirations behind these people, and how they each found themselves sitting atop massive rockets.

So these were our starting points, because by now I’d communicated the idea of a co-authorship with Francis, a friend of many years, and he’d readily agreed. Then, basically, we sifted through each of the flights leading up to the Apollo 11 mission (we’d decided to end our narrative with the first manned lunar landing), and stated our preferences for the ones we’d most like to tackle as principal researcher and writer – but obviously with input from the other author. In this way each of us contributed equally to the book, which eventually evolved into two volumes.The last points of agreement were that we wanted each of these stories to be very personal accounts, therefore lots of interviews were to be conducted by us or on our behalf, and we wanted to approach each mission story from a different angle; very much in the way that Tom Hanks presented his superb miniseries, “From the Earth to the Moon.”


~ by tellinghistory on December 10, 2007.

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