John Glenn, John Kennedy, and the New Battleground of the Cold War
It was a perilous time, the height of the Cold War. The Soviets built the wall in Berlin and were testing the most destructive bombs in history. They were also beating the United States to every major milestone in space. If the United States couldn’t compete in the race to the heavens, how could it compete with the Soviets on Earth? That was the question facing President John F. Kennedy. February 20, 1962, changed all that. 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. Drawing on new archival sources, personal interviews, and previously unpublished notes by Glenn himself, Mercury Rising reveals how the astronaut’s heroics lifted the nation’s hopes in what Kennedy called the “hour of maximum danger” and put the United States on the path to the moon.
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