How Man First Saw the Earth

Robert Poole

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Earthrise tells the remarkable story of the first photographs of Earth from space and the totally unexpected impact of those images. The Apollo “Earthrise” and “Blue Marble” photographs were beamed across the world some forty years ago. They had an astounding effect, Robert Poole explains, and in fact transformed thinking about the Earth and its environment in a way that echoed throughout religion, culture, and science. Gazing upon our whole planet for the first time, we saw ourselves and our place in the universe with new clarity.

Poole delves into new areas of research and looks at familiar history from fresh perspectives. With intriguing anecdotes and wonderful pictures, he examines afresh the politics of the Apollo missions, the challenges of whole Earth photography, and the story of the behind-the-scenes struggles to get photographs of the Earth put into mission plans. He traces the history of imagined visions of Earth from space and explores what happened when imagination met reality. The photographs of Earth represented a turning point, Poole contends. In their wake, Earth Day was inaugurated, the environmental movement took off, and the first space age ended. People turned their focus back toward Earth, toward the precious and fragile planet we call home.

Robert Poole is reader in history, University of Cumbria. He has written and broadcast extensively on history, from witch trials to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and has published in journals from History Today to Past and Present. He lives in Lancaster, England.

“What was most significant about the lunar voyage was not that men set foot on the Moon, but that they set eye on the Earth.”—Norman Cousins, 1975

"Earthrise is an expertly researched and elegantly written cultural history of the space age. Poole deftly explains how images of the whole earth helped to turn the vision of space exploration away from one that leaves the earth behind to one that extols the rare magnificence of our home planet." - Howard E. McCurdy, author of Space and the American Imagination

"The extraordinary photos of the Earth taken from the Apollo 8 had a deep and lasting effect on many environmentalists - including me. Earthrise contextualises and reflects on a unique photographic record in a quite compelling and inspiring way." - Sir Jonathon Porritt

"When humanity first gazed back at Earth from space it forced us to view our planet in a new way. That may be the greatest legacy of the space program, ably and subtly discussed in this superb history of the human encounter with our home planet. Robert Poole is to be congratulated for deciphering this important story and making it available to all readers in such an accessible and insightful manner." - Roger Launius, Senior Curator, Division of Space History, National Air and Space Museum

"An absorbing account of how the first pictures of Earth shaped mankind's perception of itself, and its relationship with nature."—The Chronicle Review

"This smart and exciting little book sets the historical context for this photo [Earthrise], and is especially fascinating about the almost forgotten Apollo program. . . . This book is rich in the relationship between past and contemporary imagination and the realities of these missions."—William Kowinski, North Coast Journal

"A remarkable book."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times (My book gift choice of this season)

“An interesting, informative read. . . . Recommended.”—Choice

"Marvelous."—Eve Lichtgarn, The Space Review

"As this important, fascinating and highly recommended book notes, the most significant view in space isn't the Moon or the stars, it's a nw perspective on our planet. Let's hope the new view doesn't come too late." - Fortean Times

"Earthrise is a fascinating contribution to a growing discussion about how space exploration and settlement will change civilization." - Nature

"A briskly-written history of Apollo 8, the first space mission to fly around the Moon."—Journal for the History of Astronomy

Selected as one of the best books of 2008 by Matthew Battles of Barnes & Noble Review
ISBN: 9780300164039
Publication Date: February 23, 2010
236 pages, 5 1/4 x 8 3/16
16 b/w illus.