Chapter 9 describes Ley’s declining prestige as both a rocket expert and a historian of science. As von Braun took center-stage, Ley retreated from the scene by devoting himself to his most ambitious histories of astronomy and zoology. Whereas Isis contributors had celebrated his earlier histories of science, a new generation of young historians excluded and ostracized Ley as a typical example of a scientist-turned-historian who wrote history backward. Younger historians viewed his style of popular writing as old-fashioned and self-serving. There is a larger story here about the academic institutionalization of the history of science during the 1960s and 1970s that may invite readers to ask, “What was lost?” Those readers might experience some degree of nostalgia for a time when academics and popularizers mixed ranks and shared goals.
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