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A New Non-Fiction Book Makes Me Want To Apologize To Jurassic World

Yes, I know this sounds weird. Hear me out.

Higginbotham is increasingly one of my favorite authors of non-fiction, a skilled journalist and historian who writes with the instincts of a master thriller writer. His “Midnight in Chernobyl” remains one of the best books I have ever read, a chilling, lucid, and addictive account of that terrifying nuclear tragedy (and a must-read for anyone who found themselves staggered by HBO’s miniseries “Chernobyl”). “Challenger” has the same clear-eyed, horrifying style — in order to explain why the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff in 1986, he takes the reader through the entire history of the United States’ quest to win the space race, examining in horrifying detail the bureaucratic missteps and malfeasance that led to the tragic deaths of seven American astronauts.

The book is incredible. You should read it. You should especially read it if you’re a millennial like me, and grew up only hearing the sanitized, hand-waved version of the entire story. It’s essential.

But a recurring theme throughout the book is the battle for the public’s attention. The mission to build Space Shuttles, to reach the stars, is only viable if the American people support it. And their support is always a coin flip, depending on the social mood of the country or the state of the economy. Whether NASA is a massive waste of resources or a shining light guiding us to a remarkable future depends on the whims of a country prone to sudden changes in mood. Humans are fickle. Americans more so.

And that fickleness is the one thing that, in retrospect, “Jurassic World” got right beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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