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Jeff Shesol '91 ─ Mercury Rising: John Glenn, John Kennedy, and the New Battleground of the Cold War

Thursday, September 23, 2021

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Watch on Watson's YouTube Channel

Book signing to follow.

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Author Jeff Shesol '91 will discuss his new book, Mercury Rising: John Glenn, John Kennedy, and the New Battleground of the Cold War, with Professor Jim Head, the Louis and Elizabeth Scherck Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences at Brown University, and Watson Institute director Edward Steinfeld.

About the book:

If the United States couldn’t catch up to the Soviets in space, how could it compete with them on Earth? That was the question facing John F. Kennedy at the height of the Cold War—a perilous time when the Soviet Union built the wall in Berlin, tested nuclear bombs more destructive than any in history, and beat the United States to every major milestone in space. The race to the heavens seemed a race for survival—and America was losing.

On February 20, 1962, when John Glenn blasted into orbit aboard Friendship 7, his mission was not only to circle the planet; it was to calm the fears of the free world and renew America’s sense of self-belief. Mercury Rising re-creates the tension and excitement of a flight that shifted the momentum of the space race and put the United States on the path to the moon. Drawing on new archival sources, personal interviews, and previously unpublished notes by Glenn himself, Mercury Rising reveals how the astronaut’s heroics lifted the nation’s hopes in what Kennedy called the "hour of maximum danger."

Meet the Author

Jeff Shesol is the author of Mercury Rising, most recently, as well as Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court and Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy, and the Feud That Defined a Decade, both selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. He is a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and is a founding partner of West Wing Writers. A Rhodes Scholar, he holds degrees in history from Oxford University and Brown University and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The New Yorker News Desk.