Starman

As the month of March comes to an end, the Wende will bid farewell to our GDR State Gifts exhibit and begin the installation of our new exhibition, Cedars Flight Vostock 1: Icons and Artifacts of the Soviet Space Program. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s 108-minute voyage into space, the exhibition will feature commemorative objects from East Germany and the Soviet Union and its satellite states.

Known as the first cosmonaut to enter space, Yuri Gagarin became the hero of the USSR and a symbol of Soviet achievement. In the recently released biography of Gagarin titled, Starman: The Truth Behind the Legend Yuri Gagarin, Jamie Doran and Piers Bizony explore interviews and secret government files to shed light on Gagarin’s public and private life.

Click here to read excerpts from Starman that were featured in the March 8th edition of the New York Times.

On Tuesday, April 12th at 6:00 PM the Wende Museum will host a discussion with Lawrence Gipe and Andrew Jenks* on the use of Soviet imagery in contemporary art. This discussion will also coincide with the opening of the exhibition, which will prove to be out of this world! For further details on this and other upcoming events, check out the website.

*Andrew Jenks is currently working on a biography about Yuri Gagarin. Click here to read his blog and follow his writing process.

Correction: The book, Starman: The Truth Behind the Legend Yuri Gagarin, is being re-released in lieu of the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight.

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One Response to Starman

  1. Andrew Jen ks says:

    I do appreciate your mention of my research on Gagarin. But I do have a slight bone to pick. As I point out in my blog, “NPR Causes a Gagarin Kerfuffle,” the book you mention, Starman, is not in fact new (http://russianhistoryblog.org/2011/03/an-npryuri-gagarin-controversy/). It was published in 1998 in Great Britain and is now being reissued opportunistically for an American audience. It contains no new information about Gagarin. But the bigger problem is the book itself. Space historians have rejected most of its conclusions. Its most startling conclusions are based on dubious sources (a supposed KGB informant) whose claims are not supported by ANY evidence from actual eyewitnesses within the Soviet space program and from Gagarin acquaintances or relatives. I’m not saying this — really! — because I am writing a biography of Gagarin. As a professional historian, I feel obligated to speak out against popular histories that propagate incorrect portraits of historical figures and events. So I would definitely NOT recommend the book to those looking for accurate information out about Gagarin’s life. Another issue is that the Starman book is deeply offensive to many in Russia now celebrating Gagarin’s 50th anniversary. Many Russian media outlets have rightly condemned the book’s re-issue for the April 12 jubilee.

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