Saturday, November 22, 2008

James A Michener's "Space" (novel), Chapter 2: "Four Women" (part 2 of 2)

Quote from chapter titled Four Women of novel titled Space by James A MichenerContext: novel main page; part 1 of this chapter.

This is the story US taking charge of the spoils of war: German engineers transferred to US as prisoners, along with German weapons design documents & actual physical missile hardware. Initially to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas; later to Huntsville, Alabama, where they will begin settling down.

A lot of text is devoted to prisoners' hardships because (apart from their status as prisoners):

  1. They were brought without any documentation but 'With the knowledge of the President.' To get the paperwork straightened, they will eventually be driven in a bus to Mexico without exit formalities, & immediately reenter on temporary permits - to be regularized in 3 months!
  2. Their wives are still in Germany. This will let the story wander for a while over ruined Germany immediately after war - a lot of broken families & misery.
This part will also see the beginning of US Army's interest in German missiles. Initial tests are with looted hardware. Original US work begins in ch 3 - that's past 1950.

There are 6 major characters that we'll likely see more of in later chapters:
  1. Prof Stanley Mott & his wife Rachel Lindquist. We meet Rachel for the first time in this chapter. We're also told Mott is "a genius in aviation" & "he wasn’t a real professor, only an assistant". The couple will help German prisoners settle down.
  2. Dieter Kolff, the brilliant German mechanical genius captured in ch 1, & his wife Liesl Koenig. We met both in ch 1; here they will be reunited after much drama.
  3. General Helmut Funkhauser, one of the more brutal Hitler men we met in ch 1, & among the prisoners. He will be a man to reckon with in US aviation industry by the end of this chapter - "a troubleshooter for Allied Aviation, specializing in their rocket and space ventures".
  4. von Braun, the brilliant German ideas man whose fate was indeterminate at the end of ch 1 is among the prisoners.
There are two male babies born among them, first of which will have a distracting role in next chapter: Millard of Motts & Magnus of Kolffs.


  1. Union of Dieter & Liesl drags on for a while because she doesn't have marriage papers. "Marriage papers"! Sounds weird in India where hardly anyone has marriage papers. In fact, court registration is looked down upon & signifies rebellion.
  2. Once US Army decides to get into rockets in a big way, they choose Huntsville, Alabama, for building their big facility.

    "Why there?"

    "Because Senator John Sparkman lives in Huntsville."

    I thought this happened only in India!


  1. "Hitler appreciated me for the same reason your people do. I can fix rockets, that's all."
  2. "We are all Americans now, even General Funkhauser, and I want to hear no more about the past... Now we must occupy ourselves with other matters."


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