The Reading World

Book people must watch Sputnik Moment

David Hoffman, a filmmaker and friend of mine (he once followed me around with a camera for an AT&T “vision video”), has released on YouTube his new film, Sputnik Moment. Everyone should see this, but book lovers in particular, because books found a new vitality after the USSR launched the Sputnik satellite into space.

The film shows how competition from the Soviet Union, through that catalyzing moment of the Sputnik launch, stimulated the United States’ investment in itself through quality education. It’s a lesson we need to re-learn today. David has captured how the value of knowledge found new expressions and technologies evolved in response to an international challenge. The “egghead stigma” the film describes was the real challenge, an internal psychological barrier to success, that faced U.S. education in the 1950s. We’ve developed that same prejudice against education today.


David writes:

When I finished my 2008 feature documentary, Sputnik Mania, critics and allies said that I needed to tell the story of how America changed. On my own, I made this movie with the help of one terrific movie collector in Chicago who had the footage I needed to prove the case. I’m trying to make it available first to the schools of America.

Watch. Learn. Think. Discuss.