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The history of the intensely secretive Soviet space program makes a riveting backdrop to this lucid biography of the dominant figure in that program, Sergei Korolev (1907-66). A brilliant engineer and superb organizer, Korolev also possessed the cynicism and political cunning necessary to get his work done and protect his staff from a government so paranoid he was forced to work in anonymity, known only as the Chief Designer. The author, himself an aerospace professional, interviewed many of Korolev's colleagues in Russia and brings to life both his enormous achievements and his earthy personality. [via]