• Fighting for Space

  • Two Pilots and Their Historic Battle for Female Spaceflight
  • By: Amy Shira Teitel
  • Narrated by: Amy Shira Teitel
  • Length: 11 hrs and 13 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (152 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Spaceflight historian Amy Shira Teitel tells the riveting story of the female pilots who each dreamed of being the first American woman in space.

When the space age dawned in the late 1950s, Jackie Cochran held more propeller and jet flying records than any pilot of the 20th century - man or woman. She had led the Women's Auxiliary Service Pilots during the Second World War, was the first woman to break the sound barrier, ran her own luxury cosmetics company, and counted multiple presidents among her personal friends. She was more qualified than any woman in the world to make the leap from atmosphere to orbit. Yet it was Jerrie Cobb, 25 years Jackie's junior and a record-holding pilot in her own right, who finagled her way into taking the same medical tests as the Mercury astronauts. The prospect of flying in space quickly became her obsession. 

While the American and international media spun the shocking story of a "woman astronaut" program, Jackie and Jerrie struggled to gain control of the narrative, each hoping to turn the rumored program into their own ideal reality - an issue that ultimately went all the way to Congress. 

This dual biography of audacious trailblazers Jackie Cochran and Jerrie Cobb presents these fascinating and fearless women in all their glory and grit, using their stories as guides through the shifting social, political, and technical landscape of the time.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2020 Amy Shira Teitel (P)2020 Grand Central Publishing

Critic Reviews

"In this smart, fun, compelling, and deeply researched book, Teitel tells the tale of Jackie Cochran and Jerrie Cobb, who scrapped with each other and, more important, with a blinkered, male-dominated space agency, for their chance to be among the first humans to leave the planet. It's a story of ambition, talent, gender equality, and of a media frenzy that seems more 21st century than 1950s. Teitel's prose is as infectious as the space-history videos that have made her a YouTube sensation, and she has picked a story that must have been a delight to write. It's certainly a delight to read." (Jeff Kluger, author of Apollo 8 and coauthor of Apollo 13 with Jim Lovell)

"History is often not as simple as it seems. In the case of Jackie Cochran and Jerrie Cobb, this book offers a revealing insight on two characters we thought we knew but didn't. From different generations and with profoundly different but equally dogged motivations, these two pilots crossed paths and fought battles in the new world of women pushing for a place in the air, and perhaps even in space. Amy Shira Teitel digs beneath the stories to reveal motivations that are not always as straightforward and admirable as other accounts suggest. A wealth of original research reminds us that people are complex, and sometimes it is those complexities that allow them to get as far as they do in the pursuit of enormous goals - or hold them back." (Francis French, author of In the Shadow of the Moon)

What listeners say about Fighting for Space

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Obvious errors of fact derail a great book

I really enjoyed this book at first, and imagined writing a glowing review. Ms. Teitel's performance is excellent, and the way she brought Jackie Cochran to life is too. The first time I found myself shaking my head was when the author confused the controls of a plane, describing the rudder as being used to roll the plane side to side. "Poorly worded," I thought, and I moved on. Then she describes Cochran putting the nose of her plane down in order to slow the plane. Anyone who knows even a little bit about flying could have told her this is simply not how flying works. I listened to that part several times, each time rolling my eyes. With my confidence now shaken, I continued on, but I began to wonder if the historical facts had similar errors. After the description of the crash at Cochran's first Bendix race, I had a thought: what if I did a little fact checking? She described this crash of a heavy loaded plane as creating a giant fireball. I found no reports of a fireball, and one report that the plane had not caught fire, even though it was laden with fuel, and a picture of the wreckage with no sign of a fire at all. At this point, with a heavy heart because I was enjoying the title, I decided to stop listening.

5 people found this helpful

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Deliberate flaws/errors for the sake of the story.

Teitel does a great job with this book in many ways. It is worth the time to read. However, the listener should be aware that they cannot take the contents of the book at face value. Many of the stories in this book are deviate from historical fact deliberately for the sake of building a more compelling narrative and to explain how these women saw themselves and wanted to be perceived. The mention of this is had only in the final chapter of the book in the author's note. Significant details are blatantly wrong and Teitel knew this when she wrote it. In short, the Teitel made choices that sided more with an exciting story than what aligns with historical facts. The reader may apricate this, but, from a historian's point of view, this rather significantly detracts from the usefulness of the book.

It's not a bad book, but I'm left feeling deceived and questioning the authenticity of every story and quote shared in the book.

4 people found this helpful

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Heroic Women

Amy does a great job bringing these Aviation’s Heroes to light, those women broke the glass ceilings, sad to think they would have been great Astronaut like the ones following on their wings!

2 people found this helpful

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Wonderful characters from history told in a compelling way.

Using sources from the characters and national archives the author tells a wonderful story about women challenging the world of aviation and space in a era when the world was wanting to return to traditional family values after World War Two. These people are not perfect, but they are fascinating.

2 people found this helpful

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Great Exploration of Two Aviation Pioneers

The author does a great job of telling the story of two women whose lives and accomplishments might otherwise fade further and further from collective memory. The stories themselves are incredible and the author's knack for telling them is commendable. The historical context that affected the trajectory of their lives is brought into focus and helps tell this story of two great, and often competing, pioneers.

My only feedback is that the perspective of the story switches regularly through the second half of the book as the narrative begins following multiple stories. As a listener those switches were sometimes hard to follow. I'm sure reading it on paper there would be breaks between paragraphs indicating the change.

1 person found this helpful

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This is how history books should be written.

Great story telling! Ms. Teitel not only told the stories of these two pilots, but she made me care about them as people. Excellent writing.

1 person found this helpful

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Focused look back at our first Astronauts

A well composed exciting story of the leading American women aviator pioneers.

A great look back at who should have had a real chance to pilot the first plane to Mach 1.1 one into space Instead we have only some fine men. I guess we'll never know if they would have been beaten by a girl because they were too scared to try. :p

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Amy's Voice is the icing in the cake

Great listen. Hearing Amy narrate her own writing makes the story of these amazing woman that much more visceral.

Can't wait for another book (I hope).

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Brilliant!

A crucial piece of history, lovingly brought to life. Amy does a magnificent job both as writer and narrator.

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Exciting, fresh and inspiring

This book makes you want to fly. :)
These women just wanted to fly. Independent of anyone telling them they should, or should not. It was inside them and they moved heaven and Earth to make it happen.