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Ignition!

An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants
Narrated by: Jonathan Todd Ross
Length: 9 hrs and 19 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

Non-member price: $39.01

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Publisher's Summary

Ignition! is the inside story of the Cold War era search for a rocket propellant that could be trusted to take man into space. A favorite of Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, listeners will want to tune into this "really good book on rocket[s]," available for the first time in audio. 

Ignition! is the story of the search for a rocket propellant which could be trusted to take man into space. This search was a hazardous enterprise carried out by rival labs who worked against the known laws of nature, with no guarantee of success or safety. 

Acclaimed scientist and sci-fi author John Drury Clark writes with irreverent and eyewitness immediacy about the development of the explosive fuels strong enough to negate the relentless restraints of gravity. The resulting volume is as much a memoir as a work of history, sharing a behind-the-scenes view of an enterprise that eventually took men to the moon, missiles to the planets, and satellites to outer space. A classic work in the history of science, listeners will want to get their hands on this influential classic, available for the first time in decades.

©2018 John Drury Clark (P)2018 Random House Audio

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I'm an analytical chemist so I may be biased

If you're interested in kerbal space program you'll like this.
I personally loved this book

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  • Myk
  • 26-11-2019

This is not really a popular science book

If you don't have a strong grounding in chemistry, a lot of this book is going to be little more than vaguely recognisable strings of syllables. There's a few startling and wild anecdotes sprinkled amongst an otherwise highly technical history. I think I'd rather have a paper copy as a reference.

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  • joseph
  • 30-08-2018

fun science

An interesting and rare approach to practical science and a fun read to boot. enjoy

4 people found this helpful

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  • Alexander Douglass
  • 01-02-2019

Great chemistry book with original humor.

Great book for someone looking for a history of rocket propulsion. written for those who are actually interested in the topic. potentially too much chemistry for a casual listening to benefit.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Adrian
  • 06-05-2019

Science man lists names of chemicals for 9 hours

It was ok. There is some insight into rocket science and humor but I found it buried underneath continual lists of various chemicals with little context.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew J.
  • 29-09-2018

you don't need to know chemistry.

hilarious anecdotes about explosions and government contracting. if you don't know any chemistry at the start you'll know some at the end.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Greg
  • 15-09-2018

A fascinating look into high end chemistry

One for the chemistry buff!!!

Makes me feel like I wasted my youth creating ridiculously expensive precious metal acids, when I could have been making rocket fuels, oh to bed few decades older.

A fascinating look at chemistry & chemical engineering back when not everything wasn't already known and people risked life & limb for their knowledge.

Bravo to the narrator, so many devilishly complicated chemical names delivered flawlessly, if he doesn't have a degree with a chemical background ....

OK, to be fair if you don't have a science or engineering degree this might be heavy going, but if you do it reminds you of the first time you blew things up.

1 person found this helpful

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  • C. Tipton
  • 03-07-2018

An audiobook only flawed by the unavoidable.

In audiobook format, it should many of the complaints - poor scanning and the like - that going the print book. it is read with spirit and clarity. Its only downfall is an artifact of the type of book and the audio format, that is, reading out chemical and mathematical formula.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Warren
  • 08-06-2018

very interesting dive into rocketry history

this was a very interesting dive into rocketry history, covering as many fuels as possible.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Joe K
  • 19-09-2018

Fun and informative.

The author has a fun writing style. It's an interesting look back at the evolution of rocket propellant, even if you are not great at chemistry.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
  • 11-02-2020

To detailed for a general space-loving audience

I struggled to finish this book because the author is on a mission to exhaustively described what seems like every mixture of rocket propellant ever devised, when a summary such as "and then they tried numerous other hydroxide mixtures, none of whom worked". Sometimes specific mixtures are accompanied by an interesting story, but most often they're not.

So I'm hesitant to give this book a 2 star review, but I think this'll be useful to other readers who are looking for a book closer to "Skunk Works", whereas this book mostly amounts to information budding space programs would be better off having in a giant Excel sheet of attempted propellant mixtures.

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  • Jeff
  • 30-01-2020

Excellent History

This is the first technical audio-book in which I also needed to get the hard copy. I love science, mostly astronomy and physics - chemistry is OK. This book is heavy on the chemistry of liquid propellants, how they developed where, precursor events that lead to those developments etc. It explains storage issues of propellants and how that drove their research & development requirements from the military, along with other critical factors.

I loved it. I mean, the historical narrative was amazing. But, it was hard to keep track of all the chemical equations simply from the audio citation, that is why I needed the hard copy.

I have listened to it more than once, it was so good.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • tom bunge
  • 04-10-2019

better to read

it is an interesting book. But it would be better to read as it gets confusing with all the formulas in it

1 person found this helpful

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  • florekfilip
  • 27-01-2019

For chemists not wide audience

Overall performance, language excellent. The book is more for people who understand chemistry at the semi-pro level. I expected more insights and stories about use of the propellent.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Bart Pander
  • 12-02-2020

chemistry history

Great listen but I think only fun for quite knowledgeable people both on mid 20th century history and chemistry on college level.

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  • turok
  • 27-11-2019

Very interesting topic sailing through the history of rocket propellants.

Probably not the ideal audio book due to significant numbers of chemical and algebraic formulas. Will listen to it again with pen and paper at hand.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-09-2019

Interesting

The history in book is great and the reading is done well. however chemical formulas may not translate well to audio book format