#BookReview for Rituals of Death by Stan Beckensall @penswordbooks #RitualsofDeath #NewRelease @PenSwordeBooks

Orbital fortresses poised to fry entire cities with no warning using giant mirrors. Bombers that take off from Earth, punch through the thin border between the atmosphere and vacuum and take advantage of that lofty altitude to speed across the globe on missions of mass destruction.

These and other exotic orbital weapons were under consideration, or even active development, in the early decades of humanity’s push into space.

And no wonder. The era of frantic, dueling, American and Soviet space-exploration efforts — which stretched from the end of World War II to the United States’ successful Moon landing in July 1969 — had its roots in Nazi Germany, a country that pinned its hope for global conquest on equally ambitious superweapons.

In the decades following World War II, the top scientists in the U.S. and Soviet space programs were ex-Nazis—most notably rocket-designer Wernher von Braun, who sided with the Americans. The basic technologies of the space race derived from Nazi superweapons, in particular von Braun’s V-2 rocket.

But orbital war never broke out in those heady decades of intense space competition. It’s possible to triangulate the moment the seemingly inevitable became evitable. July 29, 1958. The day U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower reluctantly signed the law creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Starting that day, the U.S. military gradually ceded to NASA, a civilian agency, leadership of American efforts in space. Even von Braun, once a leading advocate of orbital warfare, went along. Space-based superweapons and their architects, and the high-stakes politics that reined them in, are the subject of this brief book.


I was really intrigued by the title and description for this book, and it certainly sounds like one that would have a great insight into how humans have celebrated and marked death and their dead loved ones through time, from prehistoric to modern day.

The book was well laid out and there was plenty of detail.  There were quite a lot of images added that illustrated the different sections, along with photographs of some of the markers found, be these formal gravestones or carved and etched stones that highlighted the area in times gone by.

I liked the commentary that was added to the photos.  It was a very easy and enjoyable book to read too as it covered social history and the habits and traditions of those that lives in the past.  It was a great way to be able to look back in time to how they would have grieved and remembered those that they had lost.

It is 4 stars from me for this one, highly recommended