I looked at a Gale article that provided a broad yet informative overview of the space race. It explained the space race as a competition between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. in the context of the Cold War. The author claims the space race was important to the superpowers because of its ideological impact and national security implications. He goes on to argue that the Soviet’s early successes in the space race caused great concern among the U.S. government, but that the U.S. ultimately “won” the space race when it landed a man on the moon in the Apollo 11 missions. The space race then died down after that, as the American public became increasingly skeptical at the billions of dollars being pumped into a space program that Americans were beginning to see as a waste of funds.
The author only attempts to provide a broad summary of the space race. This isn’t necessarily a problem since it was published in an encyclopedia of U.S. economic history. Since the space race is only a part of a larger story, the author doesn’t need to get to specific.
The quality of the article is inconsistent to say the least. For instance, the author provides evidence for his claim that the space race was key to national security by pointing to the connection between launching missiles into spaces and launching ICBM’s across the planet. On the other hand, the author claims that the space race had important ideological implications as well, but didn’t explain why or how. The author does a good job in supporting his claim that the U.S. spent significant sums of money on the space race. He does so by pointing out how the U.S. spent more money on the space program in 1966 than on housing and community development. And yet there are points where the author provides all the pieces for the reader to make a connection, which is better than making a claim without supporting evidence, but the reader still has to do some paragraph jumping to make these connections. For instance, the author claims later in the article that the Soviet successes in the space race caused great concern for the U.S. government, but he doesn’t follow up by explaining why or how. If the reader goes up a number of paragraphs, he can find where the author talks about the national security and ideological implications and identify that as the source of U.S. concern. That said, the author should have been more upfront with his argument instead of making his reader jump through hoops to understand it. Overall, it is a pretty solid article given it is just an overview of the space race.
Word Count: 449.
“Space Race.” In Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History, 2nd ed., edited by Thomas Riggs, 1238-1240. Vol. 3. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2015. U.S. History in Context (accessed October 16, 2017). http://ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/login?url=http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3611000842/WHIC?u=viva_vpi&xid=40801066.