Leaving Earth cover

In 2019 I obtained from my former publisher the last 30 copies of the now out-of-print hardback of Leaving Earth. I sold about half of these, and with only a handful left in stock I have raised the price. To get your own autographed copy of this rare collector's item please send a $75 check (includes $5 shipping) payable to Robert Zimmerman to
 

Behind The Black, c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652
 

I will likely raise the price again when only ten books are left, so buy them now at this price while you still can!

 
Also available as an inexpensive ebook!
 

Leaving Earth: Space Stations, Rival Superpowers, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel, can be purchased as an ebook everywhere for only $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

 

Winner of the 2003 Eugene M. Emme Award of the American Astronautical Society.


"Leaving Earth is one of the best and certainly the most comprehensive summary of our drive into space that I have ever read. It will be invaluable to future scholars because it will tell them how the next chapter of human history opened." -- Arthur C. Clarke

What others really think of America

Travel tips for Russian, French, Chinese, and Japanese travelers to the United States.

Read them all. Not surprisingly, the French are the most bothered by American habits while the Russians struggle mightily with our general niceness. All told, however, these tips will each give you warm feelings for the wild, crazy, enthusiastic culture that is America, as seen objectively by outsiders, and best summed up by this Japanese advice:

In Japan, there is great fear of failure and mistakes in front of other people. It is better to do nothing and avoid being criticized than to taste the humiliation of failure. As a result, there are things we wanted to do, but did not, and often regret.

In America, you can make mistakes, fail, and it doesn’t matter. It is a fundamental feeling that to sometimes be incorrect is natural. In addition, rather than thinking about mistakes and failures, American’s have curiosity and say, “Let’s try anyway!”

As noted so wisely in the 1982 comedy Night Shift, “Is this a great country, or what?”

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.


He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.
 

9 comments

  • Edward

    The willingness of Americans to try despite the possibility of humiliating public failure is one of the reasons for American Exceptionalism. We have — and feel — the freedom to try to do the exceptional, no matter the outcome.

    And if we fail, then we weren’t exceptional that day. But we will try something exceptional again tomorrow.

    Looking at America from other perspectives has been revealing.

  • Edward

    On further reflection, the attitudes of these other countries have been surprising: pessimism, paranoia, fear of failure.

    They are surprised that we Americans are honest, happy, helpful, equal, and upbeat (and that women are in charge, and that our dinners are “a mighty disappointment”).

    The difference in cultures isn’t that we Americans are superior to everyone else; we come from everywhere else — we *are* everyone else. The difference is in our governance.

    Our Constitution does not give us rights; it acknowledges that We the People are endowed with unalienable rights and that the government may not abridge them. The Constitution does not give us these rights, it just guarantees that the government cannot take them away. In fact, the Constitution grants rights only to the government. And the Ninth and Tenth Amendments specify that we have far are more rights than those listed.

    By contrast, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights bestows upon the people a list of rights. Nothing prevents the UN from removing any or all of those rights at any time (Article 30 excludes the UN itself). That is the difference in philosophies between the US and most or all other countries. We the People started out being free, but the people of the rest of the world are granted any freedoms that they have.

    It is the same with how we treat the law. We Americans assume that we can do it unless it is prohibited by law, and the rest of the world assumes that they cannot do it unless it is allowed by law. Other countries lived in tyranny for so long that socialism was just another form of tyrannical governance. It didn’t matter to them who was calling the shots, as no one was ever going to be in control of his own life. And they accept the inevitability of it.

    It is no wonder that Fabian socialism was popular with American socialists. We could not be turned into a socialist country quickly, as happened to so many down-beat cultures. It took a century to turn enough Americans into dependent, despondent, pessimists for socialism to get a solid foothold. As the travel tips show, it is the productive Americans who remain independent and upbeat.

  • joe

    Brilliant comment, positive and negative rights, very elegant description of American exceptionalism, me thinks Fabians rule the U.N., I believe the heart of the democrat party and a portion of the republican party are Fabian socialists, with the republicans pushing for amnesty, how could they not be, this is treason not to protect our borders and our sovereignty.

  • Cotour

    I agree, excellent comment Edward, however I see American Exceptionalism as really only referring to the unique form of government that we live within which you describe in your followup comment. What form of government essentially recognizes / mandates that the citizenry be armed in order to recapture their own freedoms if and when the powers that be become tyrannical? Now that is exceptional on the planet and I have to assume in the universe!

    The diversity of our population combined with our country’s location and our applied exceptional Constitution in combination create Americas uniqueness, American exceptionalism is something else, and in addition it is not based in arrogance or conceit as some incorrectly choose to interpret it.

  • Edward

    “American exceptionalism … not based in arrogance or conceit as some incorrectly choose to interpret it.”

    I agree completely. Individuals do the exceptional not because they think that they are better people but because they have the freedom to try something new. I see our freedoms, and the way we react to them, as what makes certain individuals do exceptional things, and it is these exceptional things, not the people, that constitute American Exceptionalism. I see it as the *accomplishments*, not the people or the government, but these accomplishments are facilitated by the government and the freedoms that it is supposed to protect.

    I see it this way, because I can only describe American Exceptionalism itself by using the many achievements that Americans have made. People in other countries have made similar achievements, but it is America that has been consistent in doing the seemingly impossible since 1620.

    I am disappointed by those who do not understand the concept, who think that it is arrogance or conceit. When Putin doesn’t understand it, he is just projecting his own feelings of superiority onto us. When it is an American who does not understand it, he has not paid attention to it or to America’s accomplishments and why they were accomplished.

    An example that I use as American Exceptionalism comes from the Napa Valley in California: a 1976 wine tasting competition held in France, during which Napa Valley wines won against the best wines in the world: French wines. Napa Valley wineries had the freedom to experiment with their wines, but the French government had forbidden their wineries from changing their wines, for fear that they become less than the best. The French wineries were not free. That regulation backfired on the French.

    American freedom allowed us to go from — literally — a backwoods community that couldn’t feed itself in 1620 to the most powerful nation on Earth by 1920. It seems to me that excelling in a mere three centuries is exceptional. No other nation on Earth has done so.

  • Cotour

    I here you but I make a distinction between American Exceptionalism (the Constitution and our unique chosen form of government) and exceptional accomplishments that are an extension of American Exceptionalism.

    Maybe Mr. Zimmerman can comment on the subject?

  • Edward

    Cotour,

    I have reviewed an essay that I wrote after Putin panned American Exceptionalism last September (an email to friends and family). Among the things that I wrote, I found this:

    “American exceptionalism is our Constitution limiting the government from tyrannical actions — it is the Bill of Rights.

    “American exceptionalism IS liberty and freedom.”

    It seems that we are in agreement. That, unlike I said above, I have found that American Exceptionalism is liberty, freedom, and our Constitution. It was the achievements and accomplishments that I used as examples of exceptionalism, but my descriptions of it included:

    “American exceptionalism is building our own companies, working harder and smarter to get ahead, and the freedom and liberty to do so.”

  • Cotour

    For Putins purposes he strategically must negatively interpret American Exceptionaliism as American arrogance and world domineering, even if he actually understood what it actually meant. That is how president Obama also purposefully interprets it because he believes sadly that America is just another country and possesses no particular form of governance different or “better” than any other country. Our own president’s accumulated life experience conclusion is that America on balance is an evil empire that must be taken down. This is what “Leads” us and that is why the entire world is in chaos.

    While being in possession of American Exceptionalism it comes with certain responsibilities related to the power that comes along with that responsibility and those times when we may fall short or abuse that power is the reason that this particular president concludes that we should not / no one should possess such power. This is a naive, infantile and dangerous conclusion. If you are willing to abandon your responsibility related to power someone else will fill that void and the number two and three societies ready to fill that void are Russia and China and everyone below them are jockying for their slice of the abandoned power. This is where our current president falls short of his responsibility through his naive interpretation of reality to the Constitution and the people of America and by extension the world.

    Presidents must rise to the occasion and become more than they are, this president is bogged down with his smallness and the burden of him being subjectively “black”. And that is sad.

    I am rambling a bit but we certainly are on the same page I am just making a finer tuned interpretation of American Exceptionalism.

    all the best to you.

  • joe

    I am not surprised that the term American exceptionalism is mistaken for an arrogance outside of the U.S., People in this country do not understand the premise of the term either, It would be easy for a tyrant to dismiss the use of the term to his own likings because then these miscreants feel bigger than they are. in this way the term has been hijacked or ill used.

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