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Ignition!

An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants
Narrated by: Jonathan Todd Ross
Length: 9 hrs and 19 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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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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  • joseph
  • 30-08-18

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
  • 01-02-19

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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  • Adrian
  • 06-05-19

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.
  • 29-09-18

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Greg
  • 15-09-18

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.

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  • C. Tipton
  • 03-07-18

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
  • 08-06-18

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
  • 19-09-18

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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  • michael ogrady
  • 29-05-20

absolutely loved it!

its a bit on the nerdy side covering a fair amount of science but carries a good story throughout the entire book. already listened to it twice and will likely again.

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  • Tank
  • 27-05-20

Great stories, loved the narration.

Toss some cyanide into the fuel, it'll lower the boiling point and make it less toxic.

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  • tom bunge
  • 04-10-19

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

2 people found this helpful

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  • turok
  • 27-11-19

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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  • florekfilip
  • 27-01-19

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.

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  • Edward Henry
  • 05-06-20

Advanced reading but far from impenetrable gem.

I delayed listening to this for a long time because of other reviews as i have no scientific education (just a layman Spaceflight fan) and was worried it may be a textbook more than a narrative. It is not. It reads almost like the biography of a rocket scientist (although it is much wider ranging than that and i found it entertaining and had a few laughs. The narrator is fantastic at conveying the writers obvious enthusiasm and levity. Large portions of it where over my head certainly but graciously it was far from being the oblivious actor drily mispronouncing his way through chemical equations and statistics charts that I'd feared. I could only name the more common propellants going in and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Thank you so much for recording such a rare and niche book.

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  • Bart Pander
  • 12-02-20

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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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-09-19

Interesting

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

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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-01-20

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
  • 26-11-19

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.

1 person found this helpful