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1. Rocketman : Astronaut Pete Conrad's
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2. The Right Stuff
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3. Two Sides of the Moon : Our Story
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4. Gus Grissom: The Lost Astronaut
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5. High Calling : The Courageous
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6. The Way of the Explorer: An Apollo
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7. Light This Candle : The Life &
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8. John Glenn: A Memoir
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9. Flight My Life in Mission Control
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10. Leap of Faith: An Astronaut's
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11. Carrying the Fire
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12. One Giant Leap : Neil Armstrong's
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13. The Last Man on the Moon : Astronaut
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14. The Mercury 13 : The Untold Story
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15. Moondust : In Search of the Men
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16. The Coalwood Way
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17. Deke! : An Autobiography
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18. Sojourner: An Insider's View of
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19. Letters from MIR: An Astronaust's
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20. Amelia Earhart's Daughters : The

1. Rocketman : Astronaut Pete Conrad's Incredible Ride to the Moon and Beyond
by NancyConrad, Howard A.Klausner
list price: $24.95
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Asin: 0451215095
Catlog: Book (2005-05-03)
Publisher: NAL Hardcover
Sales Rank: 4431
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

He was the third man to walk on the moon. And the first to dance on it.

For Pete Conrad, it was all about the ride. Nicknamed the Comeback Kid, he survived his family's financial hardships, overcame dyslexia, landed a Navy scholarship to Princeton, and became one of the country's elite test pilots. Never the squeaky clean NASA poster boy, he famously bounced himself out of the Mercury Program but came roaring back to fly two Gemini missions, walk on the moon as Commander of Apollo 12, command the first Skylab, and work to develop the first re-usable commercial rocket-logging more time in space than all the original astronauts combined. Based on interviews conducted with Conrad by his wife before his untimely death, Rocketman is the amazing-but-true, surprisingly candid insider's view of the greatest ride in history, America's glorious race to the stars, as seen through the eyes of the real Space Cowboy: Pete Conrad, the Rocketman.
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Only One Book this Year? This is must be the one.
Authors Nancy Conrad and Howie Klausner accomplished the impossible in The Rocketman. Since I was so fortunate to count Pete Conrad as a friend, I was able to evaluate the degree of success that the authors achieved in the very difficult task of writing this book. How is it possible to accurately emblaze Pete's life with the upbeat fun, astronomical success, and down to earth personality that was uniquely and gloriously his? Yet they did so magnificently. What a triumphant accomplishment! Since Pete was treasured by many, there naturally exists a tendency for the book to be challenged by an unfair level of expectation or criticism. Yet the authors were impossibly able to take mere black symbols on wood pulp and make the characters come alive with rich history and inspirational imagery. They were able to accomplish something even larger than what Pete Conrad might have wistfully desired as life's final result. Even though he left his footprint on the surface of the moon and indelibly upon the hearts of many, only the authors reached beyond that by giving Pete life beyond his years and extending to millions the joy of his presence, all within the cherished pages of this book. This great book launches beyond its five star rating, leaves behind most of the techno-jargon which typically saturates aeronautical titles, and positively impacts its readers long, long after its covers are reluctantly closed. You simply cannot miss this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Take This Book For A Ride
So, you like me might first think of the Elton John song when seeing the title of this book, but start reading it and it's more like a movie than a song.Frankly, my expectations weren't too high realizing a screenwriter and Pete's wife wrote this book (Real frankly - my money is on Klausner, the screenwriter, as the real author). Open the book to ANY page and you'll be sucked in like a flock of pigeons into an F-18 jet intake. You won't want to put the book down. ... Read more


2. The Right Stuff
by TOM WOLFE
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
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Asin: 0553381350
Catlog: Book (2001-10-30)
Publisher: Bantam
Sales Rank: 7452
Average Customer Review: 4.47 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When the future began...

The men had it. Yeager. Conrad. Grissom. Glenn. Heroes ... the first Americans in space ... battling the Russians for control of the heavens ... putting their lives on the line.

The women had it. While Mr. Wonderful was aloft, it tore your heart out that the Hero's Wife, down on the ground, had to perform with the whole world watching ... the TV Press Conference: "What's in your heart? Do you feel with him while he's in orbit?"

The Right Stuff. It's the quality beyond bravery, beyond courage. It's men like Chuck Yeager, the greatest test pilot of all and the fastest man on earth. Pete Conrad, who almost laughed himself out of the running. Gus Grissom, who almost lost it when his capsule sank. John Glenn, the only space traveler whose apple-pie image wasn't a lie.
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Reviews (62)

3-0 out of 5 stars A good read, but not without problems
With all the hype over A Man In Full (and, having previously read Bonfire of the Vanities), I decided to read The Right Stuff over the Xmas holiday to check out Tom Wolfe's nonfiction work. I've always had a fascination with the space program, and so was primed to read the story about its origins in the U.S., about which I had known very little.

While I enjoyed the book, however, I was left feeling vaguely unsatisfied. I think the main problem stems from what Wolfe mentions in the Forward: what he set out to write about (the space program) was not exactly what he got interested in (the test-flight program and its unique "fraternity"). As a result there's an odd sense of disinterest in the actual Mercury program--you can almost feel Wolfe's relief in the last chapter when he returns to Chuck Yeager and a particularly harrowing plane flight. In one sense this works to the book's advantage, as it exposes what I think is his main theme: the great gulf between the tightly-controlled, relatively underwhelming Mercury flights (compared to those in the test-flight program), and the extraordinary national response to those flights. However, to explore this theme better I wish Wolfe could have gone into more depth on what was happening politically with the program. I also wish he could have gone further forward in history so we could see how the astronaut evolved from a fighter-jock to the more erudite scientist that we today associate with NASA.

I did enjoy the book, overall, and I think it provides a unique and non-jingoistic (at least less so than, say, the movie Apollo 13 or the miniseries From The Earth To The Moon) look at the early U.S. space program. Just don't expect a completely satisfying experience.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Portrait of the First Pioneers of Space
The Right Stuff is a facinating and accurate depiction of the saga of the Mercury astronauts. Tom Wolfe really does a wonderful job of making both an interesting factual presentation of history as well as a colorful portrayal of the lives of those directly involved. The stress on the wives of the pilots for example gives one the untainted look at these incredible ladies composure and character that is seldon captured in other historical novels. The astronauts and pilots themselves who were regarded as more than human by the press of the period, are also portrayed very artfully in this often candid expose' on their often carefree regard for the dangerous jobs they constantly undertook. These men and women truly had the 'Right Stuff' at a very unpredictable period in US history: the dawn of the space race. High pressure situations continually kept all those involved on constant edge. This book carries you from the testing flight testing years at Edwards airforce base where Yeager is the king, through the Sputnik challenge and the American failed rocket testing early on, and finally arriving at the eventual successful space flights themselves. Throughout the book is the ongoing weave of eager and relentless reporters, a clamoring nation of people demanding immediate success, as well as the political pressure through three presidential administrations all piled on the shoulders of those connected with the program. The pressure cooker builds as the story progresses, and the explosion of success takes everyone involved by surprise including the astronauts themselves. This is an incredibly unique period in US history depicting the first astronauts who were idolized in a time when the nation truly needed heroes for its own personal pride. These men restored patriotism at a time when the feeling was considered lost. Additionally Wolfe covers the early years of the space programs development, including the Air Forces success with the X-15 project which was over-shadowed by the popularity of the Mercury program. The Mercury program's success sparked the later Apollo and Gemini programs almost immediately after the first flight with Alan Shepard. The sudden success of the NASA space program created a silent upheaval in the national brotherhood of pilots that is brilliantly detailed by the author giving a a full picture to the reader. One really gets the full practical viewpoint and daredevil gallantry of the test pilots in this book that is seldom touched elsewhere. In addition to that the author describes the beginning of the space program and the early positioning of power within that reveals an almost complete upheaval at times by its early architects (scientists, engineers, pilots, and all) and finally settling into a sensable orderly structure in the later years. This book truly sheds light on the early years of the NASA space program and gives one the candid look behind all the fanfare showing what really was happening outside of the public eye. Tom Wolfe completes a very tasteful coverage of the lives of the people involved and the evolution of the exploration of the new frontier with this exciting work. I found the later movie that followed the book to be very much in keeping, however there are many details that are left out of the movie that are covered in the book. This alone makes it a must to read. parts of the story that were unable to make it to the big screen was the flight of Wally Shirra and Scott Carpenter. These two flights alone had a great deal to do with setting the future direction of the space program. This is one you will enjoy as it will capture you interest from the beginning and leave you with a sense of national pride at the bravery and true pioneer spirit of all the people involved. You will be amazed as I was at the out-pouring of affection these men generated on America during this period. A stunning portrayal of a unique period in American history. All in all a great book to read and enjoy. I am very grateful to Tom Wolfe for having written such a novel, as this was a story that needed to be told.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Zenith of American Culture
My boss lent me this book in about 1982. He also had just invited me to become a member of the Southern California Soaring Club (gliders). For me, it was the most important and inspiring book of its decade. As a kid, the astronauts were, to me, mythic figures who risked their lives to prove what we were worth as Americans. Several of them died in the process. The space race was not some society social. These guys embodied what President Kennedy said, that "...We do not do these things because they are easy. We do them because they are hard." That, to me, epitomizes the meaning of the term, The Right Stuff. Kennedy's statement resonated with me at the age of nine. Tom Wolfe's book brought me down from the clouds right to ground zero. All the faults and foibles of the astronauts, and the process of becoming one, grabbed me as incredibly real and authentic. It also convinced me that heroes often don't have names like Smith and Jones. And they all don't look like Gregory Peck. And that their wives sacrificed so much, and kept their best face forward, where others would have collapsed under the weight. It is also an incredibly funny book (the red boots, and other anecdoetes).

This is inspiring nonfiction of the highest order. It was the near prospect of imminent death that brought it all together. They were modern samurai. It was a huge gamble, and we all went for it. Other reviewers have commented elequently on Tom Wofle's prodigious writing talent, so I will leave it there. Bottom line, you can count on one hand novels that captured the full depth and breadth of intense emotion that surrounded the space race of the 1960s. Particularly in the late 70s and early 80s. Jim Lovell's Lost Moon is a good example.

Those were heady years, and I wish to God we could have them again, today. Compared with today, the years of the space race were the best years of our lives. And Wolfe captured all those emotions brilliantly. For me, it was America's finest hour. When we sat around the kitchen table and watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, it was, for me at least, the crowning achievement of the human race. I am thankful to have witnessed it, live. I will treasure that memory forever.

5-0 out of 5 stars WHOSE THE BEST WRITER I EVER READ? I'M REVIEWIN' HIM, BABY
"The Right Stuff" BY Tom Wolfe's book was a wonderful American story about the Mercury space program that told the tale of U.S. pilots just brimming with gusto, bravado and...the right stuff.

STEVEN TRAVERS
AUTHOR OF "BARRY BONDS: BASEBALL'S SUPERMAN"
STWRITES@AOL.COM

5-0 out of 5 stars Good Stuff
Although Tom Wolfe's way of writing may seem strange and at times weird, the story of these test pilots and pioneer astronauts is a classic. Beginning with the stories of pilots like Chuck Yeager, the man who broke the sound barrier, the book develops into the grand drama that was the space program and the race against the Soviets to the new frontier, chronicaling the pilots who took such great risk in participating in it. If you liked the movie, you'll love the book. A great work that I highly recommend to all readers. ... Read more


3. Two Sides of the Moon : Our Story of the Cold War Space Race
by David Scott, Alexei Leonov
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
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Asin: 0312308655
Catlog: Book (2004-10-15)
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Sales Rank: 13409
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Book Description

Growing up on either side of the Iron Curtain, David Scott and Alexei Leonov experienced very different childhoods but shared the same dream to fly.

Excelling in every area of mental and physical agility, Scott and Leonov became elite fighter pilots and were chosen by their countries' burgeoning space programs to take part in the greatest technological race ever-to land a man on the moon.

In this unique dual autobiography, astronaut Scott and cosmonaut Leonov recount their exceptional lives and careers spent on the cutting edge of science and space exploration. With each mission fraught with perilous risks, and each space program touched by tragedy, these parallel tales of adventure and heroism read like a modern-day thriller. Cutting fast between their differing recollections, this book reveals, in a very personal way, the drama of one of the most ambitious contests ever embarked on by man, set against the conflict that once held the world in suspense: the clash between Russian communism and Western democracy.

Before training to be the USSR's first man on the moon, Leonov became the first man to walk in space. It was a feat that won him a place in history but almost cost him his life. A year later, in 1966, Gemini 8, with David Scott and Neil Armstrong aboard, tumbled out of control across space. Surviving against dramatic odds-a split-second decision by pilot Armstrong saved their lives-they both went on to fly their own lunar missions: Armstrong to command Apollo 11 and become the first man to walk on the moon, and Scott to perform an EVA during the Apollo 9 mission and command the most complex expedition in the history of exploration, Apollo 15. Spending three days on the moon, Scott became the seventh man to walk on its breathtaking surface.

Marking a new age of USA/USSR cooperation, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project brought Scott and Leonov together, finally ending the Cold War silence and building a friendship that would last for decades.

Their courage, passion for exploration, and determination to push themselves to the limit emerge in these memoirs not only through their triumphs but also through their perseverance in times of extraordinary difficulty and danger.
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4. Gus Grissom: The Lost Astronaut (Indiana Biography Series)
by Ray E. Boomhower, Kathleen M. Breen, Paula J. Corpuz
list price: $19.95
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Asin: 0871951762
Catlog: Book (2004-09)
Publisher: Indiana Historical Society
Sales Rank: 181152
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Book Description

In the late 1950s the Soviet Union shocked the world by placing a small satellite—Sputnik—in orbit around the earth. Treated as a technological Pearl Harbor in the United States, the Russian achievement prompted the federal government to create a civilian organization, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, to manage the American space program. By April 1959, NASA had selected seven military test pilots to serve as the country’s first astronauts in the race with the Soviets to see who could put the first human in space. One of the seven Americans picked for this ambitious effort came from the small southern Indiana community of Mitchell. Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom would go on to become the first man to fly in space twice and to give his life in NASA’s attempt to meet President John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely home by the end of the 1960s.

In this second volume in the Indiana Historical Society Press’s Indiana Biography Series, Hoosier historian and writer Ray E. Boomhower explores Grissom’s life, from his days as a child playing in the forests of nearby Spring Mill State Park to his service as a combat pilot flying missions against Communist opponents in the skies over Korea. He also delves into the process by which NASA selected its original seven Mercury astronauts, the jostling for position to be the first American in space, and Grissom’s near-fatal Liberty Bell 7 flight that haunted his subsequent space career.

After almost drowning when the hatch malfunctioned on his Mercury flight, Grissom resurrected his reputation through determination and his careful work with the space agency’s Gemini program. The Hoosier astronaut made such a mark on the program that fellow astronauts nicknamed the Gemini spacecraft the Gusmobile. Grissom continued to be the astronaut NASA turned to when testing new spacecraft for the Apollo moon program. On January 27, 1967, Grissom, along with crew members Ed White and Roger Chaffee, died when a fire swept through their Apollo command module during a supposedly safe test on the ground at Cape Kennedy’s Launch Complex 34. The astronaut’s story continues after his death, however, most recently with the discovery and raising of the Liberty Bell 7 from its resting place on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. ... Read more


5. High Calling : The Courageous Life and Faith of Space Shuttle Columbia Commander Rick Husband
by Evelyn Husband, Donna Vanliere
list price: $24.99
our price: $16.49
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Asin: 0785261958
Catlog: Book (2004-01-11)
Publisher: Nelson Books
Sales Rank: 13978
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Rick Husband wanted to be an astronaut since his fourth birthday, but it wasn’t always for the right reasons. Initially, he thought it would be neat . . . cool . . . a fun thing to do. It wasn’t until he came to a spiritual crossroads and was able to give that dream up to discover the true desires of his heart before he actually got into the space shuttle program at NASA. Three failed attempts didn’t daunt this driven pilot—and the fourth interview process, though lengthy and difficult, proved successful for him.

Husband’s years at NASA served not only to develop his integrity and character, but also to increase his faith in a Creator that could not be denied in the vastness of space. His story is not only inspirational but exhilarating and invigorating, as readers will witness the life of a man who consistently pursued the desires of his heart even as he served a faithful God.

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Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Finding hope in the face of tragedy
Evelyn Husband's book 'HIGH CALLING' is one of the most powerful books I have ever read, for despite the uniqueness and very public nature of the Space Shuttle 'Columbia' tragedy, it highlights the personal nature of sudden loss and grief which everyone who has experienced it knows. Whether by accident, loss of a loved one thru illness, or even a broken marriage by betrayel, the pain of sudden loss is often overwhelming, and Evelyn's testimony of faith shining thru as her achor is such an inspiration, having experienced personal tragedy in my own life. But as Evelyn Husband shares so openly, only her faith in Jesus Christ gave her the ability to cope in the face of such public mind numbing loss, that God truly is a present help in time of need for all those who will cry out to Him. Her book also higlights what really matters most in life; our relationships! For what does it profit anyone to rise to great success at the expense of one's family, and Evelyn's story of Rick getting his priorities right is such a profound challenge for any man wanting to get his life in right balance - God first,then family, and finally one's career; a timely challenge for many men to follow Rick's example. As for inspiration, Evelyn's declaration of Rick's belief in God as author of the cosmos is so refreshing in the face of so much scientific agnosticism and unbelief, and being an astronomy author myself who believes in God as Creator of the cosmos, Rick's own testimony about the magnificent splendour in God's creation is a welcome affirmation which warmed my heart. Although an account of awful tragedy, it is also an account of great hope, for Rick's journey of faith made him the person he was, a loving man, a loving father, and a man whose faith in Christ made his life such a blessing which shone thru in the way he lived and why he was loved by so many. I hope this inspiring story will bring hope to many lives touched by grief and wanting to find renewed hope and faith. Indeed, such has been the impact in my own life,I have given away seven copies of 'High Calling' to different people including ministers, doctors, pilots, friends and family, for no-one can read this book without being profoundly moved and inspired, especilly about asking the BIG questions about life and faith and God, and finding renewed hope beyond tragedy. This is the most inspiring story I have ever read - thankyou Evelyn. James Waterhouse, BRISBANE, Australia.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not a random accident
Evelyn Husband writes about her husband's life and faith during a time when I would still be in bed, crying. Her ability to use humor as she tells about their life together is a testiment to the faith she professes in High Calling. The writing is simple, but the people she talks about (not just her husband) are anything but. I found it very comforting to find out, through her walk through of what led up to the launch of the Columbia, that the explosion wasn't just a random, freak accident, but an answer to the earnest prayers of two godly men. The life of Rick Husband is proof that you don't have to "look out for number 1" or "take care of yourself first" to achieve your dreams, as people today would have you believe. I think anyone, whether you love space or not, would find inspiration in Rick's story. Thank you, Evelyn.

5-0 out of 5 stars Recounts the Columbia Tragedy Historically and Personally
This book provides both an account of the Columbia breakup in February 2003 as well as Rick Husband's wife and childrens' reaction to the tragic loss of their husband and father. The book begins with the family expectantly waiting for Columbia to land, then sensing that something is wrong based on the behavior of the people near the landing site. We then learn of Rick's life, and how the family's faith in Jesus Christ had been so important in their lives. We also learn how Evelyn Husband had to tell her children that their father had tragically died.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but not without flaws
At times it felt like Evelyn was going to say something, but then she holds back. The portrait that she paints of Rick is someone without sin, a Godly man, who always aspired to be an astronaut. I felt she could have been more open and honest, and a bit less preachy at times.
Otherwise this book was touching. The real tragedy is that before the Columbia Disaster we as Americans did not consider the Astronauts who routinely risked their lives in manned space flight heroes. Space Shuttle launches were considered routine. The Columbia Disaster was a horrible wake up call. Reading what Rick had to do to get into the Space Program, all the training, all the sacrafices he made, was facinating. Rick Husband was a hero before he ever got into the cockpit of the Space Shuttle Columbia, and this book shows why.

3-0 out of 5 stars Overemphasizes the religious aspects of this hero
Although I enjoyed this book, it became tedious because of the overwhelming emphasis on Rick's religious beliefs. The book is co-authored by the astronaut's wife, who is evidently very comforted by her religion. Nearly every statement attributed to Rick, whether it mentioned his wife, his children, his family members, or his close friends -- incorporated his religious beliefs. I was more impressed with Rick's determination, skill, leadership qualities, and his desire to do the best he could in whatever he undertook -- which happened to include becoming a test pilot and astronaut, as well as a husband and family man. Don't get me wrong. Our American astronauts are my heroes. Rick Husband was heroic even before his tragic death. A more balanced picture of Rick would have been preferable. The saddest part of the story is that it took the loss of Columbia before most of the world learned how incredibly special the crew was. ... Read more


6. The Way of the Explorer: An Apollo Astronaut's Journey Through the Material and Mystical Worlds
by Edgar Mitchell, Dwight Williams
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
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Asin: 0399141618
Catlog: Book (1996-05-01)
Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 233262
Average Customer Review: 3.78 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars A NEW SYNTHESYS FOR AN OLD DILLEMMA
Dr. Mitchell asks the same questions as all seekers, and rightly connects the search for knowledge about self with the search for an understanding of the universe. He begins his book with a short personal history, bringing the reader up to a description of his incredible journey to the moon. As a US Apollo astronaut, he walked on the lumar surface. During the journey back to earth, he experienced a sudden insight about the nature of reality, an understanding that came from an unknown source. The experience most resembled the reports of mystics, who generally ascribe a religious meaning to it. Mitchell has spent the years since that journey searching for a way to understand the experience, a way to bring together the disparate ways of knowing, the way of science and the way of religion.

While it is fascinating to read his descriptions of the view of earth from space and to know that seeing our beautiful mother earth from that vantage point could trigger such insights, what Mitchell describes is an experience many, many people have, as he later came to realize. It is the experience of "knowing without knowing how you know." Sometimes the knowing concerns the nature of reality, as when you get the sense of the unity of all things, and sometimes it is a psychic insight, as in knowing someone has just died. Sometimes it is the amazing synchronicities that happen when you cease to believe they cannot happen.

This source of knowledge is real, so how does it work? There is no accepted scientific answer. At least there wasn't until Mitchell took on the task and gave us his dyadic theory of reality. It is an interesting explanation. The universe, in this view, evolved not just from energy but always incorporated intention. Consciousness is inherent in the universe and that is why, in the mystical experience, everything seems alive. There is no difference between the consciousness of my aloe plant on the windowsill, my cat who purrs beside me, and me. We use consciousness differently perhaps, but my plant grows better when I love it and want it to grow, I somehow know when my cat is outside the front door and wants to come in, and I use my consciousness to read books and learn more about my world. But the me that is sitting here looking out at everything else is victim of an illusion. It is only through working at techniques to shut out externals that it is possible to gain some realization of the unity, or to put it another way, to access the web that connects everything and that is the actual source of the knowledge that comes to us in these "mystical" experiences.

Dr. Mitchell's book takes us into heavy material, not always easy to grasp, and sometimes possessing its own assumptions. He seems intent on eliminating religious metaphors completely, as if providing an explanation that "works" means there is no longer a use for the concept of God. I have to agree with him that the long-standing practice of representatives of religious organizations of dismissing anything without a scientific explanation as "a miracle of God" (or sometimes as "the work of the devil") has retarded our ability to scrutinize any actual process at work. Likewise, it isn't helpful when scientists simply dismiss anything that doesn't fit their current understanding of reality -- Uri Geller must be a fraud because science can't explain how he bends those spoons. And since Uri is not a saintly person, it must not be "a miracle."

Because "God" is used to cover everything for which there is no scientific explanation does not invalidate the concept of a supreme presence, just as science is not useless even though it is intolerant of alternate explanations. It seems to me Mitchell neglects the idea of "purpose" just as he does not accept reincarnation, suggesting the past lives remembered are the result of accessing the universal web, the holographic record of everything (much like Edgar Cayce's "Akashic Record"). Could this be just a semantic difference, if we are all part of the same consciousness? While Mitchell's concepts "fit" the essentially religious experiences of those who believe in the immortality of the soul, it does not encompass the soul's purpose of perfecting itself through lifetimes of spiritual growth.

As I read this book, I found Mitchell has read the same authors I've read, and he mentions the same cast of characters with whom seekers are familiar, whether they write from a research, mystical or physics point of view. His desire to reconcile science and religion is the same desire many of us share. The journey inward is as worthwhile as the journey to other planets. Our yearning to know who we are can only be satisfied when we truly achieve the synthesis Dr. Mitchell seeks. You'll have to read and decide if Mitchell, as an explorer extraordinaire, has found the answer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Please write more books,Dr. Mitchell about Apollo 14 !
Apollo 14 was one of the few missions that I know litle about; simply because not enough time and attention has been dedicated to it! Dr. Ed Mitchell,Apollo 14 lunar module pilot, tells us in a very open way his inner-most feelings about the mission to The Moon, and how it altered his life,and inner ways of thinking; regarding life and the universe! Telling the reader that what he felt and saw: during, and mainly after his return to Earth; how our universe couldn't have just happened,but rather, has a special purpose and significance and a meaning to its existence! i believe in God, and have heard many pros and cons said about this book! Well let me say that as a true believer in CHRIST and GOD, I feel that Dr. Mitchell has a very open and well-educated mind as a scientist/explorer; and merely tells us that there is in fact a creator, and a purpose for the creation of the universe, and a reason for its being; relating science/religion together,which, to me, makes a whole lot of good sense.and purpose, to those of us that are real thinkers and have a real open mind to the things around us in the whole universe; not just planet Earth! Dr. Mitchell should know, hes been there (MOON) AND DONE THAT! i'M VERY RELIGIOUS INWARDLY, AND STILL THINK YOUR BOOK IS WELL DONE! Good job Dr. Mitchell! Your one of the few very open-minded/rational good thinkers of the century! If only more would have your intellect, mayby we wouldnt have the world problems we have today, and would have already had a base on Moon, and missions to Mars, already underway!

5-0 out of 5 stars Exploring Invisible Realities
Edgar Mitchell founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences in 1972, as he began a quest for common ground between science and spirit following his life-altering experience of walking on the surface of the moon. Mitchell's autobiographical book THE WAY OF THE EXPLORER describes in thrilling detail his experiences with the Apollo missions, as well as his subsequent exploration of the fields of consciousness and paranormal phenomenon. Mitchell's heart-warming accounts of his feelings as he walked on the moon, and then traveled back through space to see how "the heavens and earth tumbled alternately in and out of view in the small capsule window" are gracefully combined with his insightful observations of the nature of consciousness and reality. We can all benefit from experiencing the Earth as Mitchell does... as one planet interconnected with each and every one of us. I was so moved by what Mitchell wrote about seeing Uri Geller bend spoons and bring lost objects across space and time that it inspired me to see Geller bend one of my (very SOLID stainless steel spoons) in person in October 1999. I love this book's timeless wisdom, beauty, and depth so much that I return to it again and again. It's a powerful book that touches my heart and greatly inspires me!

2-0 out of 5 stars Not worth your money.
I thought this book was going to be more about an insightful philosophy. But instead, over half deals with Mitchell's experience as an astronaut and his personal life. Mitchell claims to have a magic recipe - a "dyadic model", which is the thoughtful merger of science and spirituality. I thought it would make an adequate inclusion of spirituality, but instead, the author examines certain mystical phenomena and promptly claims to take the truth from each...in his own fashion, and then retorts that such and such people's view about the event...many of its interpretations, were wrong. This is not a merger of science and spirituality, it is taking all the meat from a spiritual body and just leaving the bones. This debases and is insulting to many spiritual and cultural traditions throughout the world. This is just a propaganda for Mitchell's own particular, quasi atheist view of reality, and one that serves to finance his institute.

1-0 out of 5 stars Moonwalker becomes Ghost Buster!
Edgar Mitchell asks Uri Geller if he would be so good as to retrieve a camera he left on the moon during Apollo 14. Sure Uri will give it a try. After all the moon is only about 240,000 miles away, how hard can it be? Later they are dining in the SRI cafeteria when Uri cuts his lip on a sharp piece of metal. It's not the camera but Mitchell's long lost tie tack! Thank God for that! Had that bulky 70 mm Hasselblad materialized in Uri's mouth his head would have exploded like a Halloween Pumpkin packed with an M-80! They'd have been wiping what was left of his brains off the ceiling!

Being a psychic is no job for wimps that's for sure! And yet they come across as a strikingly tempermental lot. Norbu Chen jealous of Mitchell's all too obvious infatuation with Geller uses psychokinesis to reduce Mitchell's gold ring into a twisted lump of scrap metal. However Mitchell is not the slightest bit upset or should I say, "bent out of shape."

In a nut shell this is what I hate about psychics. It's not that the laws of physics don't apply to them. It's that the laws of society-and much more importantly-the laws of common decency don't apply. Had Chen thrown a brick through the windshield of Mitchell's car or smashed that ring with a hammer he would have been guilty of a criminal act of vandalism and considered emotionally unbalanced. But it was his psychic power which destroyed that treasured piece of jewelry and this makes all the difference in the world. Mitchell writes, "Norbu Chen was clearly a very powerful man." Humm...

As a boy I idealized Mitchell as I idealized all the Moonwalkers. That's why this book was so painful for me to read. ... Read more


7. Light This Candle : The Life & Times of Alan Shepard--America's First Spaceman
by NEAL THOMPSON
list price: $27.50
our price: $18.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0609610015
Catlog: Book (2004-03-23)
Publisher: Crown
Sales Rank: 15910
Average Customer Review: 4.17 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Almost an Excellent Biography
To anyone but a true student of spaceflight history, this might be regarded as a superb biography of an extraordinary man, and it certainly comes very close. Neal Thompson has a punchy, smooth-running style, which obviously reflects his lengthy career as a professional journalist, but just like a journalist it seems he kept his manuscript to himself and well under wraps, and I believe this has proved a sad downfall for an otherwise excellent book. People who know their spaceflight stuff are thick on the ground, but it is very obvious that no one was consulted in order to simply verify the so-called facts about Shepard's NASA career in this book. There are so many elementary errors inherent in this part of the story that it must call into question the reliability of other areas such as his military service, and he deserves better.

The author's descriptions of early spacecraft are incorrect; so too his explanations of the dynamics of space flight and the space environment. I know helicopter pilot Jim Lewis well enough to say that he would be absolutely furious with Thompson's baseless assumption that Gus Grissom blamed Lewis for nearly letting him drown after the hatch blew on his spacecraft. Quite the contrary - Lewis was elsewhere making a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to save Liberty Bell 7. Any fundamental study of this dramatic event would reveal that Lewis's helicopter did not in fact retrieve Grissom as stated in the book, and his was not the only helicopter on the scene - there were actually three involved. I also feel that far more effort should have been made to research the Mercury flight of Scott Carpenter, rather than reiterating bitter and biased recollections dominating Chris Kraft's account of this flight in his own book. Carpenter successfully brought home a flawed, badly malfunctioning spacecraft, but where is this story? It seems a much-misrepresented confrontation between two personalities is a better scenario to present than the program-saving heroics and expertise of a gentle, courageous astronaut.

The author says he elicited the help of Alan Shepard's family in writing this book, and while I do not doubt the veracity of this statement, I wonder if they feel betrayed by many of the vapid sex "revelations" he felt obliged to relate, which only serve to make this book a poor man's "Right Stuff." I, for one, did not care to know the intimate details of Alan and Louise Shepard's first night together as man and wife. This was just guesswork, voyeuristic journalism at its most revolting, and has no place in such a serious biography. It would also, I am sure, have proved very distressing to the daughters, and such odious reporting is precisely why Shepard would not divulge his life story before he died, and why family members have never cooperated with journalists or biographers before now - and probably never will again. I am also firmly convinced that the author is wrong in naming Alan Shepard as the astronaut involved in a motel photo scandal that features prominently in the book. The author rebuts the whole Shepard/Glenn conflict matrix he carefully makes throughout the book by saying that Shepard was panicked into seeking Glenn's counsel on this delicate matter. This goes absolutely against the grain of both personalities, as pointed out numerous times in his own book. Research and sources please, Mr. Author, not the presentation of presumptions as facts based simply on third-party and questionable hearsay.

My sincere wish is that the author had just allowed someone with a solid knowledge of spaceflight dynamics and history to read the text before he rushed this book into print, because the presence of numerous errors and typos only serves to diminish the full impact of what might have been a truly good biography.

An Australian called Clive James once penned a great book called "Unreliable Memoirs," and I'm afraid this is an alternate title I would have to apply to this book. Nevertheless, it still merits 4 out of 5 for readability, and for finally bringing us the incredible (albeit author-flawed) story of America's first man in space. We can only hope that a corrective rewrite is in the offing. Then, I'm sure, I can probably add that fifth star to the overall rating.

5-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put this book down
I really enjoyed it! I and ate, slept and drank the Apollo program growing up. Alan Shepard was always my favorite astronaut and boyhood hero. I always wanted to know and understand him. This book gave me keen insight into Mr.Shepard and the space program. Light This Candle allowed me to reminisce about a wonderful time not only in my life, but this country's. I couldn't put it down!

5-0 out of 5 stars Alan Shepard - Write Stuff
Having read most of the books about the glory days of NASA, this one stands out as one of the best. Unlike a number of the recent autobiographies of the astronauts, Shepard would not have written this book himself. He was too private a person. Thompson has written an engaging chronicle of what it takes to be the best of the best in the astronaut corps.

4-0 out of 5 stars George S. Williams, please elaborate
As a close follower of space exploration, I have read many of the biographies/autobiographies of the astronauts of the early space program and greatly enjoyed this book. In a review on this site, George S. Williams claimed it was poorly written and riddled with inaccuracies. Like other forms of writing, an editorial should provide support of your claim, so, Mr. Williams, I would appreciate if you could share with me and others specific aspects of the book that displeased you (I am more interested in falsities of the book than your disliking of the author's style). Please post a response on this website or email me at sbd218@nyu.edu

5-0 out of 5 stars The missing link in astro biographies
This is a great book and one that will fill a long-empty space on your bookshelves if your interested in the history of the giants of the space race. I won`t write in detail here, but in short, this is an excellent book that I enjoyed greatly. I`ve put my thoughts down in detail on Amazon UK, if you care to read them.

Well done, Neal Thompson! ... Read more


8. John Glenn: A Memoir
list price: $27.00
our price: $27.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553526642
Catlog: Book
Publisher: Random House Audio
Sales Rank: 904069
Average Customer Review: 4.24 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

He was the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. Nearly four decades later, as the world's oldest astronaut, his courage riveted a nation. But these two historic events only bracket a life that covers the sweep of an extraordinary century. In this engrossing book, John Glenn tells the story of his unique life--one lived at the center of a momentous time in history by a man who helped shape that history.

He is the kind of hero who resists being called a hero. And yet his exploits in the service of his country, his dedication to family and friends, and his rock-ribbed traditional values have made this small-town boy from the Midwest a true American icon.

John Glenn's autobiography spans the seminal events of the twentieth century. It is a story that begins with his childhood in New Concord, Ohio, in the aftermath of World War I. It was there that he learned the importance of family, community, and patriotism. Glenn saw firsthand the ravages of the Depression and learned that determination, hard work, and teamwork could overcome any adversity. These were the values he carried with him as a Marine fighter pilot during World War II and into the skies over Korea, for which he would be decorated for his courage, dedication, and sacrifice. Glenn flew missions with men he would never forget, from baseball great Ted Williams to little-known heroes who would never return to their families. Always a gifted flier, it was during the war that he contemplated the unlimited possibilities of aviation and its next frontiers: speed and space.

John Glenn takes us into the cockpits of the experimental planes and spacecraft he flew to experience the pulse-pounding excitement of the early days of jet aviation, including his record-setting transcontinental flight in an F8U Crusader in 1957, and then on to his selection for the Project Mercury program in 1959. We see the early days of NASA, where he first served as a backup pilot for astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom and helped refine some of the initial cockpit and control designs for the Apollo program. In 1962 Glenn piloted the Mercury-Atlas 6 Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first manned orbital mission of the United States. Then came several years in international business, followed by a twenty-four-year career as a U.S. senator--and in 1998 a return to space for his remarkable Discovery mission at the age of seventy-seven.

This extraordinary book captures the unique alchemy that brings a man to the forefront of his time. Married to a woman he first met when they were both toddlers, known for his integrity, common sense, and leadership in the Senate, John Glenn tells a story that we must hear. For this narrative of steadfastness, devotion, courage, and honor is both a great adventure tale and a source of powerful inspiration for an age that needs John Glenn's values more than ever before.
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Reviews (34)

3-0 out of 5 stars Delightful biography, but short on space hardware
John Glenn became the first American in orbit when he circled the Earth three times aboard Friendship 7. The most senior of the original Mercury astronauts, he was trumpeted as a hero upon return, but left the space program shortly thereafter because NASA wouldn't give their famous spokesman a second, potentially disastrous flight. Not until almost thirty years later, that is, when Senator Glenn returned to space at the age of 77, amidst a roar of publicity that rivalled his first mission. In the meantime, he had embarked upon a political career that included a shot at the presidency. A rather distinct biography.

In "John Glenn: A Memoir", the Marine turned Astronaut turned Politician shares with the world his life story, which spans the better part of a century and saw aviation progress from biplanes to the Space Shuttle. Yet this is a deliberate and slow-moving book, written in earnest and matter-of-fact prose. It progresses in strictly chronological order, spends a great amount of nostalgic detail on Glenn's childhood - including mother's cooking and playpen stories -, then moves on to the Marine days flying planes in World War II and Korea, then to his test pilot career. Always one step at a time, one little story after the other.

The results are a mixed bag: while the drama-oriented readers will call it outright dull, others might find the leisurely pace quite immersive and captivating. At the least, it is refreshing to read an astronaut biography that does not suffer from tunnel vision. The space program is not as much as mentioned until about half-time, and even recounting his NASA days, Glenn focuses on the big picture - the political and ideological implications of the space race - rather than technical detail. While the accounts of his actual Mercury and Shuttle flights are vivid and gripping, on the whole there is nothing about the space program that could not be found in most other, specialised books. Not surprising, given that Glenn's astronaut career was illustrious but brief, and something that the die-hard space buffs should consider.

The part between Glenn's flights focuses on his political career, his friendship with the Kennedys, and law making as an Ohio Senator. There is more talk about his loved wife and family, and more emphasis on duty, country, values. In truth, it must be said that the only things arguably more all-American than John Glenn are baseball and apple pie; he constantly reflects on his beliefs and guidelines, and never seems to waver in his uncomplicated optimism and patriotism. More remarkably, it all seems genuine, too: no image polishing, that's just the way he is. Indeed, Glenn colours his omnipresent love of America with plenty of humour and palpable feeling, and comes across not as preachy, but entirely likeable.

The concept of such an awfully nice moralist seems strange in today's cynical times, and this is perhaps the most telling point of all: the text seems like a document from a different age. Like the photographs that come with it, showing Glenn's wedding ceremony in uniform, or piloting Corsairs in World War II, this tale is something out of our reach, something delightfully dated. And "John Glenn: A Memoir" sure is a delightful book. Readers looking for a remarkably rich and varied life story can hardly make a better choice. Space enthusiasts lusting for nuts and bolts might want to think twice.

5-0 out of 5 stars A thrilling, exhiliarating autobiography
Marine Colonel John H. Glenn, Jr., was selected as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts in 1959, and made his historic orbital flight aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962. But as this book reminds us, Glenn was involved in many other grand events in our nation's history. He was a fighter pilot in the Marines during World War II and Korea in the 1940's and 1950's, he served in the Senate for four terms in Ohio, and finally, in the fall of 1998, he made a historic return to orbit aboard the space shuttle Discovery. This book captures the details of those events, sweeping the lifetime of this small town boy from the midwest, a true American icon. I thought it was very thrilling, and was interested in hearing of his accounts of his spaceflights , Senate career, and combat flights in the wars. Others have said it was boring because Glenn has almost never faced adversity in his life, but I thought it was entertaining nontheless. His accounts of the Friendship 7 and Discovery missions are nearly minute-by minute, very detailed, and I thought it was very well done.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Story of a Perfect Life?
Based on this book John Glenn never got out of line, never got in any serious trouble or caused anyone else to get into trouble, had a perfect wife and family who always supported him 100%, even if it meant his being away from home for long periods of time. He even goes to the extreme of discounting a story about his concern over his height exceeding the max requirement for space travel. I found many parts of this book enjoyable, but left feeling I had only been reading a whitewashed version purified for mass consumption. On slight hint at the "real" John Glenn may be revealed in his writing a letter to NASA in an effort to overturn the decision to have Alan Shepard and Guss Grissom fly in space before him. This book left me with many more questions about the real man. Showing more of his human, occassionally risking and failing side would have added much to my enjoyment. Unfortunately this was missing.

4-0 out of 5 stars Critical Reflections
There have been many assessments of John Glenn since February 1962, but perhaps none so critically important as those he has made in his Memoir's. All of us have fallen short of fully living our values and maintaining our ethical standards as we move through a life filled with temptations; we are but mortal. While Glenn is certainly an American hero of the highest caliber, and one of my favorites, his shortcomings remain a puzzle to me. The paradox of John Glenn is found in the staunch moralistic tone of his life before his Senate career, and his stance after taking that oath of office.

His criticism of the moral behavior of his fellow Mercury astronauts in 1960 is in stark contrast of his support for a president who was equally as guilty some 40 years later. His support for a political agenda that represents a normalization of deviancy leaves me wondering if his professed Christianity is truly a "born again" commitment or simply cultural attribute that can be influenced by power.

Glenn agonizes over his "guilt by association" in the Keating affair and presents a rather weak defense. He states that one of his reasons for entering politics was to prove that good men can survive and triumph in an atmosphere where power corrupts. Yet he leaves himself open on several occasions to simply reinforce the notion.

Glenn reviews his life in a manner that I found interesting and informative. As an avid space historian, he filled in a few areas of his life and the early manned space program that were unknown to me. Of interest too, are the occasional factual errors that have crept into the book, perhaps because much of the final composition was probably done by his co-author, Nick Taylor (who, overall, did a great job). Gordon Cooper's flight did not terminate early because "his spacecraft lost orbital velocity" but went the full 22 orbits. And, Gus Grissom was not "the first person to fly in space three times". He would have been had he not been killed in the Apollo fire. That privilege belongs to Wally Schirra who was the only astronaut to fly Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.

John Glenn accomplished more in his three careers (Marine, Astronaut, Senator) than most of us will do in any one lifetime. We pray that his legacy will truly be greater than three Migs, 137 orbits and 9,414 senate votes.

3-0 out of 5 stars Fireflies in space
John Glenn is a space pioneer and knows first hand that there is a "lot more water than land on earth". You feel his honesty in his writing, his no-nonsense approach to every day of his life. And then at age 70 he goes out into space again. Flying "Friendship 7" around in space is the climax of his life for this "down-to-earth" man. The forceful fist of destiny came down on Glenn in the form of his image, the mirror, which knocked him out of politics; he thought he dropped out, but he was dropped out until after Watergate when the Senate calls him. Up to date nobody seems to know: what were the "fireflies" in the night of space surrounding "Friendship". There is this mystery in the otherwise "nuts-and-bolts" story of John Glenn. ... Read more


9. Flight My Life in Mission Control
by Christopher C. Kraft, Chris Kraft
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0452283043
Catlog: Book (2002-02)
Publisher: Penguin Putnam
Sales Rank: 25831
Average Customer Review: 4.55 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In his New York Times bestseller, Chris Kraft delivers an unforgettable account of his life in Mission Control. The first NASA flight director, Kraft emerged from boyhood in small-town America to become a visionary who played an integral role in what would become the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It's all here, from the legendary Mercury missions that first sent Americans into space through the Gemini and Apollo missions that landed them on the moon. The great heroes of space are here, too-Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, and Buzz Aldrin-leading the space race that would change the course of U.S. history.

From NASA's infancy to its greatest triumphs . . . from the calculated gambles to the near disasters to the pure luck that accompanied each mission, Flight relives the spellbinding events that captured the imagination of the world. It is a stirring tribute to the U.S. space program and to the men who risked their lives to take America on a flight into the unknown-from the man who was there for it all.

"A highly readable memoir." (The New York Times Book Review)

"A rewarding look at the brief, shining moment when space pathfinders held sway over space warriors." (The Washington Post)
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Reviews (55)

5-0 out of 5 stars An insider's candid account of NASA's evolution
After reading many books about NASA's early days including Moon Shot and Failure is Not an Option, I was expecting Flight to follow the same formula of a chronological mission-by-mission playback. Instead, I found what I think is one of the best accounts of how NASA evolved and became what it is today.

Though he does include the missions, each with their own difficulties, from Mercury through Apollo, Chris Kraft writes much more from a management standpoint. He describes how decisions were made and how design and planning was accomplished without going too much into the technical nitty-gritty. This is truly a behind-the-scenes look at the early manned spaceflight program.

Kraft starts the book with a description of of his boyhood and college years, explaining how he came to work for what was then known as NACA. Having been a part of NASA from the first days of the Space Task Group, he is one of a few who are in the best position to describe it's evolution. He is open and honest about his feelings toward various people in the industry and the agency itself as it has come to be today. He also gives Bob Gilruth the credit and attention he deserves as the true father of NASA.

The only drawback I found to this book is that the chronology can get a bit confusing at times. Once the Space Task Group is formed, Kraft breaks the book up into Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Because the programs overlapped, there is a bit of backpedaling at the start of each section which you have to keep track of - just something to keep in mind while you read.

This book is a must-read for anyone interested in early space flight, anyone who wants to revisit those years with an insider's look and anyone currently within NASA. Though all the other books about NASA's best years have their selling points - Flight should be at the top of any list.

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful!
Anyone who is familiar with the numerous television documentaries about the early years at NASA knows about Chris Kraft. NASA's original flight controller, Kraft takes the reader on the journey of his amazing life story from a small town in Virginia to the top levels of management at NASA's Johnson Space Center. The reader will come away with an amazing appreciation for the contributions that Kraft gave to this nation as well as the numerous other unsung heroes that helped America get to the moon. As NASA's original flight conroller, Kraft was personally present for the most memorable moments in the history of space exploration including Alan Shepard's first trip into space in 1961 and John Glenn's historic orbital flight in 1962. Kraft takes the reader behind the scenes and shows what was really going on inside NASA that the public never knew about. The story he tells is amazing. The best part of this book is that Kraft acknowledges that the race to the moon was a team effort where everyone including managment, astronauts, mission control and contracters all contributed to this historic effort. Kraft was part of the story from the beginning and anyone interested in the least about the greatest story of the 20th century should and needs to read this fine book. It is well written, candid and an easy read.

3-0 out of 5 stars Chris Kraft is not a pleasant man
I enjoy all the books on the space program and I am really glad that Scott Carpenter was able to tell his side of of the story in his book "For Spacious Skies" (which is very good). Chris Kraft makes Scott out to be a dopey day dreamer behind the controls of the Mercury Capsule. Chris ensures that the world knows that it was "his" decision alone to kick Scott out of the space program. Chris should have been more fair and point out that Scotty was overloaded with "space experiments". It was Scotty's flight that proved that you cannot overload the man in capsule with experiments and NASA never did it again in the "and on" flights. Give Scotty a break. He put put his life on the line while Chris played big shot engineer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mercury, Gemini, Apollo - MGA = Man's Greatest Adventure.
Chris Kraft is one of those brilliant rarities that can lead and design complex and difficult projects and has complete faith that the answer is just around the next corner.
He was the FLIGHT director of all three distinguished space programs beginning with Mercury and ending with Apollo.
Gemini was stuck in the middle and without Gemini, Apollo would never have landed on the moon.

It's so odd that many people STILL refuse to accept the facts that the USA DID in fact land on the moon on that fateful day, July 20th, 1969.
YES - 44 years ago Apollo 11 did so on the EAGLE at exactly 3:17:39.9PM CST in the United States of America.
Neil Armstrong's voice was clear over the radio, a quarter million miles away,
"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."
Armstrong was much admired in NASA for having a cool head under intense pressure and he was unanimously voted to be the first man to step foot on the moon.
At the time, it was unknown what the surface of the moon was made of...some scientists feared the top layer of the moon dust was one mile of soft sand that would collapse under any weight and swallow up the landing ship upon it's landing.
Thankfully, this did not occur, nor were there any life-threatning germs found on the lunar surface.

"One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Those words forever changed our world. Along with the lunar landing came many inventions that blessed our quality of life with many newfangled inventions like the super speedy computers and telemetry that could monitor heart rhythms of people.

Everyone got their due in this tell-all book and what a page-turner it proved to be. Kraft is a brilliant man who can tell it like it is and he sure lead an exciting and intellectual life.
It's sad that his family got the short end of the stick, but the nation recieved his best and most intensive labor.
Without Kraft, I seriously doubt that the US would have made the moon in 1969...I really do.
Read this book and understand the whole story....all the twists and turns and convolutions of the bueracracy.
It's interesting and I need to mention that initially, Kraft had a low interpersonal assesment of the genious scientist, Wernher von Braun. He disliked the fact that von Braun bombed Europe with his evil VH bombs --- he hated the fact that Hitler bossed von Braun around the way he did. But then later, he had to understand that a knife was held at von Bruan's throat and he HAD to do those evil things.....or Hitler would of had him executed or shot or whatnot.....Kraft later awarded von Bruan with his highest admiration because without von Braun, there'd very likely be no Saturn V moon rocket. It's statistics must NEVER be forgotten, insists Kraft, and here I will discuss it with you.
The Saturn V had 3 stages, the first was 33 feet in diameter.
It had 5 monster rocket engines and each one could produce 1.5 MILLION pounds of thrust! (That's 7.5 million pounds on this stage alone....)
Now add stage 2 : it was 30 feet in diameter and had 5 smaller engines that punched up 1 million pounds of thrust.
(uh let's see --- 5 more million pounds added to #1.)
Then the third stage was 22 feet across with no specified thrust given, but it was impressive!!!
Add the equation up and add some more millions to it and uh --- well -- you get the idea! That mutha kicked!!!
All this power was required to break free of Earth's gravitational field and launch Apollo into Earth orbit.
WOW! What a ride it must have been!
All this happened so long ago and before long, Americans took space travel for granted.
According to Kraft, we could have landed on MARS in the 1990's had we stuck to our high ideals and kept the NASA space exploration programs going at full tilt.
But politics and Viet Nam came into the picture and that was the piece of pie NASA needed to perform these unrealized dreams.
They went as far as Apollo 17 - that was as far as the budget and national interest allowed for them.
Kind of a shame to stop dreaming big....but I know other programs need our aid too.
Some people say we don't need space and we don't need to explore while world hunger is still a reality here along with homelessness and child abuse.
Maybe we should forgo it and take care of the more fundamental problems facing humanity here on Earth.
But after reading this quality book, it encourages one's intellect to reach for the stars and never stop thirsting for the truth about our universe and the many associated discoveries that will come with other great adventures up there in the mysterious cosmos.
I bought this book for a mere $3.98 and I wish I could share it with every person who is reading here at AMAZON dot com.
It's a wonderful book that you should endeaver -- it will bring you much discovery and knowledge.
Thank you Chris Kraft for living an exemplary life and sharing your brain power with all those programs that improved the world.

The story is worth reading from all who shared in it and have a point of view.

5-0 out of 5 stars Young Guys Take On the World and Win -American Style
This is a modern and very much an American story where people are given the money and resources and are told to get the job done. This takes place of course at NASA under the intense glare of the international media. It was done under tough working conditions, with many technical and human challenges, with long hours, and tough deadlines to meet.

Sure the Mission Control team headed by Kraft was supported by a cast of thousands and many suppliers, but they (ultimately) had to manage the flights and make the decisions, and do the things that were required to make the operation a success. Only the very best people can lead in this technical environment. They must be the brightest and have the ability to garner respect from their fellow workers. Age is not a factor in selecting the people, those decisions are based on raw talent and drive. In this pressure cooker environment Kraft rose to the top.

That is what this book is about. It is a group of young guys with lots of energy and the smarts have to come up with and execute a winning plan and then solve all kinds of problems with no prior or at least limited experiences.

But Kraft and his team did it with the world watching. This book conveys this great achievement by a young group of managers and engineers.

Four or five stars. Great story.

Jack in Toronto ... Read more


10. Leap of Faith: An Astronaut's Journey into the Unknown
by Gordon Cooper, Bruce Henderson
list price: $25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060194162
Catlog: Book (2000-06-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Sales Rank: 359303
Average Customer Review: 3.71 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Gordon Cooper was one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts, a select group of the nation's top military test pilots who braved the frontiers of space in the days when strapping yourself to a rocket meant you would be either a hundred miles up or six feet under. Today he is undeniably a part of our nation's history as one of the four surviving Mercury Seven space pioneers. In Leap of Faith, Cooper not only reveals compellingly what went on behind the scenes of the early U.S. space program, but he also takes dead aim at the next millennium of space travel with his strong views on the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence--and even the distinct possibility that we have already had contact.

During his distinguished military flying career, Cooper was one of the best of the best at Edwards Air Force Base, where the setting of world records for speed, endurance, and altitude was an everyday occurrence. Even before joining this nation's newly formed manned space program, he understood the dangerous nature of new technologies: hanging it over the edge and pushing the envelope, then hauling it back in and doing it again tomorrow.

"Gordo" Cooper learned to fly with his father at age eight in his hometown of Shawnee, Oklahoma, and soloed by the time he was twelve. As an impressionable boy, he met overnight visitors to the Cooper household, including famous aviators like Amelia Earhart and Wiley Post, which only heightened his desire to take to the skies.

Ride with Cooper through his adventurous life in the cockpits of planes and spacecraft alike--he was the last American to go into space alone, exactly thirty-five years ago. He flew in Mercury and Gemini, and served as head of flight crew operations for both Apollo and Skylab, America's first orbiting space station. He was also backup command pilot for Apollo X and directed design input changes for the space shuttle program. He was buddies with Gus Grissom, who died in the tragic Apollo I fire at Cape Canaveral, and was close to Wernher von Braun, the German rocket scientist who was responsible for the United States beating Russia into space, and then to the Moon. Through it all, Cooper, a hero who shuns the label, speaks candidly of his defeats as well as his accomplishments. His life is a tapestry of space travel in the twentieth century.

And beyond. From a source as credible as Gordo Cooper come these claims: He innocently took revealing pictures of the mysterious Area 51 during his Gemini mission and ended up in the White House speaking about it to the president of the United States; he and other military pilots have chased unidentified aircraft in their Jets; and footage of UFOs taken by his film crew was confiscated by the government, all part of the U.S. military's long-time UFO cover-up.

Buckle yourself in and prepare for a wild ride; Leap of Faith takes you places you have never been before---and with Cooper's firm hand at the controls. ... Read more

Reviews (28)

3-0 out of 5 stars Earth to Gordo ... Earth to Gordo ... please come home
Gordon Cooper's accounts of the early Mercury program days are a good read. Cooper covers material that will largely be familiar to readers of other space program books, but adds his own unique perspective and insight. For this reason alone, the book is worth a read.

Cooper speaks frankly to the now-famous story that he encountered a UFO during his flight of Faith 7; it never happened, he says. But there are other things he's seen as a pilot that he can't explain -- things that he describes as being not-of-this-world.

From there, the author loses credibility quickly when he begins to talk about his attempts to unravel the UFO mystery with his clairvoyant sidekick. The reader is left with the impression that not all of Gordo made it back from orbit.

Still, the book is worth a read, and the history (or Cooper's version of it) is an important piece of the story of man's race to the moon.

3-0 out of 5 stars One too many trips around the Earth
The first part of this book is interesting. The whole Mercury program, the behind the scenes politicing, the trips into space. And then the book gets weird. It is always interesting when public figures give UFO accounts but it would have been nice to have some backup documentation rather than vague acusations about area-51 and the government hiding things. This government doesn't seem to be able to hide two people making out in an office nevermind capturing space aliens, transporting their ship somewhere, figuring out how it works etc etc. If two people can't keep a secret can the 100's that would have had to be involved in such a coverup keep a secret? Come on folks, this guy appears to have had one too many trips around the planet.

Anyway its light summer reading and like I said, the first part of the book is fine.

3-0 out of 5 stars Two books in one
Gordon Cooper's book is actually two books in one--one very good, and one very bad. The first is an exciting document about his life as an astronaut. The second, apparently written mostly by contributor Bruce Henderson, concerns his experience with extraterrestrial aliens and the hunt for new energy sources.

In the first book, Cooper recounts his 22-orbit flight aboard his Mercury capsule, Faith 7. It was fascinating reading as he described how, near the end of his flight, the capsule malfunctioned, and the only things left working were his radio and the manual controls. That he made it back to earth safely is a testament to the fighter-pilot can-do nature. Cooper also reveals the internal politics that went on in choosing the flight crews, including why he never got to go to the moon.

This all makes for great reading. Cooper also discusses his belief in UFOs, and tells of his own sightings and top-secret UFO photos, and describes scientifically why a saucer is the ideal shape for an advanced style of aircraft. It's all believable, compelling and wonderful.

But then Cooper begins his post-NASA life, and meets a mysterious woman named Valerie Ransone. This is where the book begins to fall apart. Ransone claims to have telepathic contact with extraterrestrial aliens, and Cooper believes her. She is able to bend spoons, a lá Uri Geller, which Cooper witnesses. She wants to form a partnership with Cooper to develop new sources of infinite energy, aided by their alien friends. In the end, the company fails, and Ransone fades from Cooper's life.

I have to admit, as far fetched as this sounds, I found myself giving Cooper the benefit of the doubt. I respect the opinions of a man with advanced degrees in science, as well as space experience. After all, it is the scientist's job to ask "Why?" in an objective manner.

But this is why the second half of the book fails miserably. We never hear Cooper ask "Why?" He claims that Ransone's spoon bending was not a parlor trick, but how can he be so sure? Uri Geller was revealed as a fraud. If I were a scientist and had people bending spoons in front of me, I would have immediately marched them into a scientifically controlled experiment. But Cooper did no such thing.

At one point, Ransone invites Cooper to go on a genuine flying saucer ride with her alien friends. But at the last minute, the trip is cancelled. BUT OF COURSE. This is always the way these meet-the-aliens stories happen. A big build-up, and then nothing.

The main reason this part of the book is so bad is the narrative voice. Bruce Henderson writes it as if it were a work of fiction, as a melodramatic narrative of Gordo and Valerie's struggles together. And though the objective of their business, Advanced Technology Group, sounds impressive, we never get more than a gloss concerning what they actually did. In the end, Ransone comes off sounding like a nut. And Cooper sounds like he was used.

A number of reviewers have mentioned Leap of Faith's scientific inaccuracies and incorrect facts. The most glaring for me was the mention of the "Saturn VIII," an eight-engine rocket described as the "most powerful rocket ever built by man." But no rocket ever existed. The most powerful rocket ever built was the Saturn V, which had five engines in its first stage. A "Saturn VIII" was never even conceived of or designed, much less built. It's hard to imagine how such an error could have made it into a book written by an astronaut.

I've been trying to understand Gordo's title. It seems to me that this is what Cooper took in writing this book, knowing that his accounts of UFOs and ETs would probably be scoffed at by much of the scientific community. Trouble is, much of his argument is objective and convincing. But the book loses its edge when it stops describing science, and delves into the unexplained without trying to explain it, while reading like a dime-store novel. I'd like to see a sequel in which we hear more from Cooper the scientist, and not some ghostwriter.

2-0 out of 5 stars Flawed crossbreed of astronaut biography and conspiracy yarn
Colonel Gordon Cooper is one of the Mercury Seven, the first group of American astronauts. A test pilot from Edwards Air Force base, he flew the last and longest of the pioneering Mercury missions, dubbed Faith 7, and later went into space a second time aboard Gemini 5. A maverick at heart, Cooper fell out of favour with some of the NASA higher-ups and left the agency after being denied command of a lunar landing mission.

His autobiography, Leap of Faith, is a surprising and somewhat schizoid read, mixing Cooper's space program experience with increasingly dubious episodes on UFO sightings and telepathy. The overall structure has a stitched-together feel to it, and the last third with Gordo charging off into the world of the paranormal seems to belong to another book entirely. The writing style throughout is average journalist fare - bland vocabulary, repeated words in one sentence -, but not too bad overall.

Cooper's account of the space program offers no startling insights or deep emotional truths; his added personal perspective is interesting enough, though; the actual narrations of the Faith 7 flight, photographing the Himalayas, manual re-entry and all, and the 8-day Gemini mission with Pete Conrad are quite captivating. There is very little in the way of technical detail, some nice stories about training and promotional voyages, the usual photographs, and that's it. All in all, Leap of Faith remains a superficial effort. Gordo's childhood and background, his career before NASA and his family life receive preciously little attention, serving mostly to produce anecdotes or, in the case of his Air Force years, UFO speculations. Disappointing, the more so in light of the following chapters.

When he's denied the chance to command an Apollo mission, Cooper leaves NASA in 1970. Some accounts claim that he was slacking off, that he carried his maverick attitude into training, while others say it was a political decision by astronaut chief Deke Slayton, who wanted to get his friend Al Shepard a flight (Leap of Faith, naturally, supports the latter point of view). It's interesting, in this regard, to compare Slayton's superb and carefully researched autobiography with Cooper's effort.

After retirement, Gordo embarks on a surreal journey of X-fileish proportions, minus the humour: after some time flight testing "saucers" build by a Salt Lake City businessman and UFO believer, he is contacted by a young woman who claims to have telepathic contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence. Naturally, she describes these aliens - the "Universal Intelligence Consortium" - in such unimaginative and naively anthropocentric terms that it merits pity. But Gordo, being attracted to her and all, obviously reasons differently. And so the two spend their time together reconstructing obscure Tesla inventions, until she tells Cooper that he's been selected to take a spin aboard a real alien spaceship. Alas, the mission is scrubbed at the last minute, seemingly due to political struggles between various extraterrestrial factions. Too bad.

At least Gordo is portrayed with a last holdout of scepticism throughout these strange proceedings, and undecided in the end. Ultimately, Leap of Faith merely repeats some of the popular conspiracy theories - Area 51 is there, too -, content to raise supposedly unanswered questions. Still, the example it gives of uncritical thinking and silly (often self-contradictory) logic is troubling. The epilogue, with Cooper talking about the present-day space program and a farewell to his buddy, the late Pete Conrad, comes as quite a relief.

The more so since the book is riddled with a myriad of inaccuracies. To name but two of the most obvious examples, the Saturn V rocket's first stage has five engines, not eight. And Russian Cosmonaut Pavel Belyayev, who went into space but once aboard Voskhod 2, was hardly "a veteran of two spaceflights" when Cooper met him in 1965. As aviation books go, it doesn't get any sloppier than this. Regarding the UFO mutterings, they are rendered even more outlandish - if it were needed - alongside capital mistakes like these.

Natural, perhaps, considering the lesser "conspiracy" fare on the market, although one must feel disappointed to find such yarn in a book carrying the name of Gordon Cooper. The benefit of doubt, mercifully, suggests that a certain Mr. Henderson did the actual writing, but the fact that Gordo obviously didn't bother much with proof-reading is distinctly unimpressive just as well. Especially when working with an author who is truly at odds with looking up basic technical and biographical data. Maverick or not, if you do an autobiography, you might as well do it right.

Still, the okay passages on the space program, with Gordo's refreshing "strap-it-on-and-go" attitude shining through, prevent Leap of Faith from becoming a total disaster. When read like an adventure novel - "The Right Stuff" meets "X-Files" -, the book has some good moments, and the "owns all"-space buff will merrily add it to his collection despite the flaws (he knows where else to find the accurate data, anyway). A less specialised (or less nutty) reader, though, will find the Cooper / Henderson cooperation quite unsatisfying.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Hero's Significant Life written with Integrity
Just finished reading Gordon Cooper's "Leap of Faith" which I finished in two "sittings"... As a woman who remembers back in the 50's and 60's being in a man's world, I found this book (even with a lot of technology in it) remarkably understandable, interesting, exciting, and profound. Cooper's "straight-arrow" approach to his love of his calling in life, along with open-mindedness and vision, captured my imagination and came as close to feeling "I know this person" more than in most non-fiction books. His story was mixed with human interest, military protocol, politics, courage, intelligence, along with love and respect for his teammates, as well as frustration with self-serving brass, kept my interest in high gear all the way. I learned behind the scenes information, some historical, that was not dipicted in the movie, "The Right Stuff". Towards the end, some of his adventures seemed somewhat surreal, but because of who this person is, I found myself weighing what was and what was not and came to the conclusion it was told with veracity, if not somewhat disappointing. Disappointed not of his writing, but the end result of one of the projects he was involved in and the failure of it due to lack of support from our military and private sector. I don't think anyone reading this book will come away disappointed. I highly recommend it. ... Read more


11. Carrying the Fire
by Michael Collins, Charles Lindbergh
list price: $19.95
our price: $19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 081541028X
Catlog: Book (2001-06-01)
Publisher: Cooper Square Publishers
Sales Rank: 205189
Average Customer Review: 4.71 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Gemini 10 and Apollo 11 astronaut tells first hand of his journeys into space and his arrival on the moon. ... Read more

Reviews (31)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Making of an Astronaut
Michael Collins was command module pilot of the historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon in July 1969. Had he not forged such a distinguished record of achievement in the cockpits of exotic, out-of-this-world air & space craft, first as fighter jet test pilot and then as astronaut, Collins would have likely experienced noteworthy success at the keyboard as a writer. After seeing this book on a recent list of the "100 Greatest Adventure Stories," I decided to give it a read. Collins' brilliant narrative helped me rediscover those feelings of admiration, wonder and awe that I experienced as a young boy while watching the space launches and moon walks on B&W TV. This is a fascinating, revealing and oh so candid first person account of the pathway that took Collins to the moon and back--his early career as a fighter jet test pilot, selection and induction into the astronaut corps, preparation and training of an astronaut, the personalities of many of Collins' colleagues in the space program, the exquisite and intricate planning intended to minimize the risks to these brave explorers and ensure their success, his own anxieties and something of the impact on the families of the astronauts. All of technology's wonderous achievements of the last 20 years, e.g., laptop computers, cellular phones, internet, cable TV, etc. seem to pale in comparison to the marvel of sending man to the moon and bringing him home again...safely. While circling the moon in the command module Columbia, Collins needed to correctly press a sequence of computer buttons 850 times just to manage a successful rendezvous with his partners Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as they returned from the surface of the moon in the lunar module Eagle. Just one example among many of the incredible vision and engineering and planning involved in NASA's glory years of success. Despite his wonderful accomplishments, Collins does not take himself too seriously, tells his story with wry humor and is maybe a little irreverent. His story sent tingles up and down my spine again...after all these years!

5-0 out of 5 stars The inside story -- well written
I read it, and re-read it. I couldn't put it down. Along with the information on the US Space program itself, it has insights into the family life of the astros as well as how they interacted with each other. As a bonus, a strong sense of humor comes through in the writing that makes the sometimes technical nature of the book spring to life. It is very entertaining! Far from a dry account of "I did this," you are left with a clearer sense of the incredible magnitude of the US Apollo and Gemini programs. If you ever wondered what went through those men's minds as they made history, this is the book for you! Thank you Mr. Collins!

5-0 out of 5 stars No Question About It--The Best Astronaut Memoir Ever!
There have been several excellent Apollo astronaut memoirs, especially Gene Cernan's "The Last Man on the Moon" and Jim Lovell's "Lost Moon," which was made into the feature film "Apollo 13." This one is still the most honest and reflective of them all. It extends a tradition of the aviator as litterateur into the age of space travel.

Collins had an illustrious career as an astronaut. Chosen in the third group of astronauts in 1963, he served as backup pilot for Gemini VII, pilot for Gemini X, and command module pilot for Apollo 11. On that last mission he became the loneliest man in the universe when his two crewmates, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, landed on the Moon while he remained in orbit around the Moon in the Command Module. In "Carrying the Fire" Collins writes of his solitude in lunar orbit in July 1969. As he disappeared on the backside of the Moon from Earth, he recalled, "I am alone now, truly alone, and absolutely isolated from any known life, I am it. If a count were taken, the score would be three billion plus two over on the other side of the moon, and one plus God only knows what on this side. I feel this powerfully-not as fear or loneliness-but as awareness, anticipation, satisfaction, confidence, almost exultation. I like the feeling. Outside my window I can see stars-and that is all. Where I know the moon to be, there is simply a black void, the moon's presence is defined solely by the absence of stars." He compared it to being in a skiff in the middle of the ocean with only the stars above and black water below. It proved a profoundly moving experience for him.

Michael Collins left NASA in 1970 and became the first director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, continuing to write eloquently of the possibilities of spaceflight. Among other works he published "Liftoff: The Story of America's Adventure in Space" (1988) and "Mission to Mars" (1990), a powerful exposition on the value of a human mission to Mars.

"Carrying the Fire" is the first candid book about life as an astronaut. The author comments on other astronauts, describes the seemingly endless preparations for flights to the Moon, and assesses the results. He also describes what he thinks of as the most important perspective that emerged from his flight, a realization of the fragility of the Earth. He wrote that "from space there is no hint of ruggedness to it; smooth as a billiard ball, it seems delicately poised on its circular journey around the Sun, and above all it seems fragile...Is the sea water clean enough to pour over your head, or is there a glaze of oil on its surface?...Is the riverbank a delight or an obscenity? The difference between a blue-and-white planet and a black-and-brown one is delicate indeed."

It is a powerful and moving memoir. Read it more than once and lend copies to your friends. You, and they, will not be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best
This is an excellent book. One of the best in regards to the space program and the ultimate in goals, the moon.
My interests are in the Mercury through Apollo era. This one goes through many aspects in a easy to read yet not dull form.
Fact filled, humorous, humble even.
This is a must read or must own if you are a space enthusiast.
Mr. Collin's other book, "Liftoff" is another excellent book. It held my interest as did this one.
But, that is another review.

5-0 out of 5 stars Funny stuff!
I thought Collins's book was the best of any I have read about the golden age of the US space program. Collins was funny; made me laugh out loud a bunch. I also recommend "Deke!" and "A Man on the Moon." ... Read more


12. One Giant Leap : Neil Armstrong's Stellar American Journey
by Leon Wagener
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312873433
Catlog: Book (2004-04-24)
Publisher: Forge Books
Sales Rank: 34161
Average Customer Review: 2.81 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

On July 20, 1969 the whole world stopped.It was a day in which a man who grew up on a farm without electricity would announce, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

In this, the first ever biography of Neil Armstrong, Leon Wagener explores the man whose walk on the moon is still compared to humankind's progenitor's crawl out of the primordial ooze.And whose retreat back to a farm in his native Ohio soon after the last ticker tape confetti fell, has left him looked upon as a reclusive hermit ever since.

This is the true story of a national hero, whose life long quest to walk on the moon truely mirrors our best selves, an American who braved incredible danger daily over a long career, finally achieving what seemed impossible, and broke free of the Earth's surly bonds proving forever that man can reach for the stars, andsucceed.

Relying on hundreds of interviews with family and friends of the astronaut, plus generous access to the NASA files, Leon Wagener explores the life of one of America's true heroes, in a book filled with extraordianry adventure, and even greater achievement.
... Read more

Reviews (16)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Book, Bad Cover
The marriage between author and publisher can be a chancy thing. Here we have a good biography of Neil Armstrong, first man to set foot on the moon. The book appears to be well-researched and credited.

Unfortunately, the publisher did not do as much work as the author. This is immediately obvious by the photo of Buzz Aldrin on the cover. There is a tiny image of Neil Armstrong reflected in the faceplate, but the main image is Aldrin. Aldrin's name tag is clearly visible through the "A" in the word GIANT.

But if you can ignore having the wrong man on the cover, the insides are worth reading. Neil's adventure is one of the great achievements of the last fifty years and has had far too little actually written about the men themselves.

This is a wonderful addition to the library of any fan of the space race.

1-0 out of 5 stars A Horrendous Piece of Work
Any would-be biographer of Neil Armstrong faces three major challenges. First, everyone knows (and many have written aboout) the central event of Armstrong's public life: the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. Second, Armstrong is a fiercely private person who rarely speaks in public and has never (to my knowledge) consented to an interview since leaving NASA. Third, science writers like Andrew Chaikin ("A Man on the Moon") and astronauts like Michael Collins ("Carrying the Fire") and Gene Cernan ("Last Man on the Moon") have set the bar *very* high for those who have come after them.

Leon Wagener's new biography of Armstrong fails on all three counts. It adds little to what we already know about Armstrong's career, offers minimal insight into Armstrong the person, and is marred throughout by a grating prose style and abominable editing.

Wagener's biography is a patchwork of interviews with friends and family members, quotes from newspapers and magazines, and gleanings from NASA records. This works reasonably well in the first and last sections of the book: Wagener is the first writer to deal in detail with Armstrong's life before coming to NASA (in the late 1950s) and after leaving it (in the early 1970s). Few readers, however, would pick up a book-length biography of Neil Armstrong *solely* to learn about those parts of his life. The method breaks down, however, in the long mid-section of the book, where the subject is Armstrong's years in the space program. Here, piecing together the facts is not enough: We already know the story. We *want* to know what Armstrong thought about it all, and that is the one thing that Wagener cannot deliver.

Even the relatively effective parts of the book are undone, however, by the quality of the writing. Writing about some of the most dramatic events of the twentieth century, Wagener tries relentlessly to pump up the drama by adding adjectives to every noun, adverbs to every verb, and extra clauses to every other sentence. There is nothing inherently wrong with this kind of dramatic prose--Norman Mailer used it in "Of A Fire On The Moon" and Tom Wolfe used it in "The Right Stuff"--but Mailer and Wolfe are masters of the English language. Wagener has a tin ear, and it shows on every page. The difference between the right word and the almost-right word, Mark Twain famously wrote, is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. This book is infested with lightning bugs.

It is also, sadly, infested with factual errors. Navigation lights twinkle in airless space, the invention of the turbojet engine is attributed to the wrong person (and placed in the wrong year), the X-15 rocket plane is misleadingly described as a hypersonic glider (a description that fits the never-built X-20 far better), and the Ford Trimotor is inexplicably described as a weapon of war (which the later and superficially similar Junkers Ju-52 eventually became, but the Ford never did).

Readers have not been well served by Wagener's editors, who should have at least thinned out the factual errors and style-deaf sentences. Nor have they been well served by the decision (by the author, editors, or both) to omit *any* form of references, bibliography, or even a complete list of interviewees. Readers interested in the sources of specific details are left with no way to *find* those sources. Especially given the numerous factual errors (which would make double-checking essential for anyone wanting to use the book as a reference), this is goes beyond frustrating into outrageous.

Historians interested specifically in the pre- and post-NASA phases of Neil Armstrong's career may want a copy of this book. Others should avoid it at all costs.

3-0 out of 5 stars Armstrong Deserves Better
Although this book provides the basic facts of Neil Armstrong's life and career, it lacks substance. After reading 300-plus pages about one of the country's ablest test pilots and the first man on the moon, the reader comes away scarcely knowing anything about what motivated Armstrong or how he was viewed by his contemporaries. One of the century's most interesting characters remains a mystery.
Additionally, this book could have used a good editor. Careless spelling mistakes diminish its effectiveness. The name of Alan Shepard, for example, is spelled incorrectly throughout the text and also in the index.
Here's hoping that a better Armstrong biography finds its way into print soon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Read
If anyone has any doubts about this book being worthy of purchasing I assure you that it is a great read. I agree with Bill Pogue's cover blurb that it is a page-turner. I really enjoyed reading about Neil's experiences in the Korean War.

1-0 out of 5 stars Major disappointment
This book was really disappointing. Not only is it written with flowery language and dramatic hyperbole, it presents a very unsatisfying profile of a man that the world deserves to know as something other than the myth. The author gives us almost no personal insights into Armstrong, at least none that come off as reliable. I couldn't even finish the book. My guess is that the author really has no clue who or what Armstrong is all about. ... Read more


13. The Last Man on the Moon : Astronaut Eugene Cernan and America's Race in Space
by Donald A. Davis
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312199066
Catlog: Book (1999-03-15)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Sales Rank: 83525
Average Customer Review: 4.49 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

That "Geno" Cernan was commander of Apollo 17, the final manned moon mission, was a fitting conclusion to a flying career that included two previous stints in space (Gemini 9 and Apollo 10). His frank, earthy memoir of his years at NASA adds another entertaining, informative volume to the burgeoning shelf of books illuminating the inner workings of the space program and the people who made it happen. Coauthor Don Davis, a veteran journalist, helps Cernan craft a colloquial prose style that nicely captures the competitive, macho personality that seemed virtually mandatory for astronauts in the 1960s and '70s. Cernan candidly depicts the reckless streak that twice led to needless injuries jeopardizing his spot on a mission. He also acknowledges the stresses endured by his ex-spouse Barbara as she struggled to be the perfect astronaut wife--cheerful and uncomplaining for the cameras while he experienced all the fun and adventure of the job. And it sure was fun, as becomes clear in the exciting descriptions of his spacewalk from Gemini 9 and stroll around the moon from Apollo 17. Detailed accounts of each flight, including technical problems and personal tensions (particularly with Apollo 17 teammate Jack Schmitt, distrusted because he was a scientist, not a test pilot), remind readers that the space program is a human endeavor, with inevitable failures that make the triumphs that much sweeter. --Wendy Smith ... Read more

Reviews (72)

5-0 out of 5 stars A "Must-Have" for any Space library!
For those of us who watched the space program unfold in the 60's & 70's, this book will bring back some wonderful memories. For those who weren't around at that time, it's a wonderful first person tale of the trials and tribulations of our quest for the moon. Andy Chaiken whetted our appetites with "A Man on the Moon" and Tom Hanks gave us a wonderful 12 hours on HBO. Captain Cernan takes us back to the early days of Gemini and his spin on Gemini 9 [which really fascinated this reader] right through Apollo 17. Some of these stories have been told before in other books [some 25 years old], but it's refreshing to read them from Cernan's point of view. The ego-trips, the family problems, the wonder and the excitement are all there. I read this book with a smile on my face and, at times, a tear in my eye...as this book brought me back to a time when we knew all the astronauts by name and they were our heros during a very turbulent time in our history. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I think I'll read it again.

2-0 out of 5 stars Another Disappointing Astronaut Autobiography
Gene Cernan is one of America's most experienced and successful astronauts. His three missions were among the most ambitious, successful and exciting of all time. He spent more time, along with partner Harrison Schmitt, than any other man walking on the moon. It was, therefore, with great disappointment that I read this book. What I expect from a book by an astronaut is to really feel and understand what the unique experiences they went through were like. With the notable exception of Mike Collins' autobiography almost none of the astronauts books really provide this. Only 12 men have ever stood on the moon and yet they have not really conveyed what this and other aspects of spaceflight were like in their autobiographies. His dismisses his epic Apollo 17 flight in a few pages and spends more time talking about the politics of crew selection, giving crude descriptions of his wife's figure and other trivia. Also there is a lack of illustrations showing the alien environment he explored so well. In a more positive light, he reveals for the first time the real dangers the Gemini spacewalks entailed and gives a good description of the problems Ed White encountered in Gemini 4 and his own nightmarish experience in Gemini 9.

5-0 out of 5 stars Better than Sci-fi - Read the real thing
I couldn't put it down.
This is an action-packed book, that brings you right into the cockpit of several of our space capsules and outside of them during an EVA.
He speaks about his carreer before the space program, how he got into it, and then how life is changed forever.
In his matter-of-fact style, Cernan speaks about several of our space-heroes and how he views and interacts with them.
Cernan describes the lunar landscape, his thoughts and feelings while he was there... makes you see it through his eyes.
If you like action, aviation, flying, space, this will be one of your favourite books ever.

5-0 out of 5 stars What a book!
this was a great book. geno cernan is a great guy( i have met him) and he wrote an interesting delightful book. i know more about the inner workings of Nasa and the rest of the space program.

THIS WAS AN AMAZING BOOK!...

5-0 out of 5 stars On of the Very Best
Gene Cernan`s book an near perfect writing about those legendary first days of manned space exploration. For such Apollo maniacs, as me, essential reading. You can know from it, how become an youngster to an naval aviator, then an naval aviator to an astronaut and at last an astronaut to an moonwalkwer. It`s funny to see things through an insider`s glasses. Furthermore styles of Gene Cernan and Don Davis brilliantly complete each other, and the final result is an vibrant, from beginning to end gripping story. Maybe the only one imperfection in the book is those lot of "damn" and "sonofabitch" ... Read more


14. The Mercury 13 : The Untold Story of Thirteen American Women and the Dream of Space Flight
by MARTHA ACKMANN
list price: $24.95
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Asin: 0375507442
Catlog: Book (2003-05)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 72102
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1961, just as NASA launched its first man into space, a group of women underwent secret testing in the hopes of becoming America’s first female astronauts. They passed the same battery of tests at the legendary Lovelace Foundation as did the Mercury 7 astronauts, but they were summarily dismissed by the boys’ club at NASA and on Capitol Hill. The USSR sent its first woman into space in 1963; the United States did not follow suit for another twenty years.

For the first time, Martha Ackmann tells the story of the dramatic events surrounding these thirteen remarkable women, all crackerjack pilots and patriots who sometimes sacrificed jobs and marriages for a chance to participate in America’s space race against the Soviet Union. In addition to talking extensively to these women, Ackmann interviewed Chuck Yeager, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, and others at NASA and in the White House with firsthand knowledge of the program, and includes here never-before-seen photographs of the Mercury 13 passing their Lovelace tests.

Despite the crushing disappointment of watching their dreams being derailed, the Mercury 13 went on to extraordinary achievement in their lives: Jerrie Cobb, who began flying when she was so small she had to sit on pillows to see out of the cockpit, dedicated her life to flying solo missions to the Amazon rain forest; Wally Funk, who talked her way into the Lovelace trials, went on to become one of the first female FAA investigators; Janey Hart, mother of eight and, at age forty, the oldest astronaut candidate, had the political savvy to steer the women through congressional hearings and later helped found the National Organization for Women.

A provocative tribute to these extraordinary women, The Mercury 13 is an unforgettable story of determination, resilience, and inextinguishable hope.
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Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Mercury 13 by Martha Ackmann
This book depicts the lives of women astronauts during a
period of American history when the space program had a
plurality of men. The period is the 50s and early 60s
when the contest between the USA and the Soviet Union heated
up in space. The book describes the successful launch of
Freedom 7 in 1961 despite some early problems. There are
many pictures of the astronauts depicting achievements during
the various milestones of the space program. Ultimately,
the Committee on Science and Astronauts concluded that the
advantages of having women astronauts merited a formal
program of research and study. This was a government action
long sought by women in the pursuit of careers as astronauts.
The book includes details of the experiences of Janey Hart-
an early astronaut and participant founder of NOW.
A report on this book would make a fine student project
for budding scientists.

5-0 out of 5 stars All systems go!
Here's a book that has potential to fuel a few debates. Written by Martha Ackmann, a professor of Women's Studies at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, the topic hits an unexpected intersection of interests: Early days of manned space flight at NASA, and women's rights.

Most readers won't have heard of The Mercury 13, an unofficial group of stalwart women airplane pilots, all tested for potential to become astronauts by the private Lovelace Foundation at the dawn of the space race. While national focus lasered on Alan Shepherd, John Glenn, and the rest of the famous and flamboyant Mercury 7 astronauts who flew the first orbital missions, Jerrie Cobb and her compatriot lady flyers quietly matched, and sometimes surpassed, the test results of the male heros. Accomplished flyers, and businesswomen, the individuals of this group held many aeronautical records and won many air derbys. Some were graduates of the WAC programs of the Second World War, spearheaded by Jackie Cochran. Ackmann paints vivid portraits of each potential astronaut-candidate, and one can easily like these devoted flyers. (Interestingly, the author focuses heavily on the self-destructive political infighting between Cochran and Cobb for leadership of the women-in-space program.)

It's fascinating to "uncover" this group some forty years later. Who knew? Beyond a few publicity shots that appeared in Life magazine and in hometown papers, the women were hidden, unsanctioned as an official group of any kind, almost a curiosity. Yet, many points raised by Professor Ackmann are provocative: Women weighed less than male counterparts - and would require less rocket fuel; and why was there a requirement of jet-flying experience for astronauts when many animals (female, no less!) were sent aloft in the space capsules.

So where's the argument? Clearly, Ackmann launches this retrospective on the women-in-space efforts with the intention of demonstrating blatant sexism and its negative effects. Viewed through the lens of post-feminism, one clearly sees malfeasance - from President Johnson who nixes any further testing, to a Neanderthal congressman who jokes about the need for women in space for reproductive purposes to colonize planets. Yet, a young and innocent John Glenn just can't see beyond what he and America know as the social norms of the times. In 1963, the nation was a decade away from any kind of equal opportunity awareness, and perhaps two decades away from the emergence of political correctness. Were the male leaders of the space program worried about protecting an existing social order, or just worried about beating the Russians to the moon? Therein, the debate. (Enjoy it - far better for you to argue this with your spouse than waste another hour on Reality TV.)

5-0 out of 5 stars We've come a long way, baby....thank heavens!
"The Mercury 13" is an amazing story of how [discrimination] in the early years of the American space program shut women out. We should be ashamed that the Soviet Union had a woman in space decades before Sally Ride finally broke the gender barrier in the U.S. Martha Ackmann is to be congratulated for bringing the stories of these incredible and patriotic women to light.

5-0 out of 5 stars Women on to the moon
Research, research, research...

Ms. Ackmann has really done her homework on all the players involved in the Mercury 13 or FLAT (First Lady Astronaut Trainee) program. She did extensive personal interviewing with the surviving women of the program, and it shows.

Her writing gets you "into" the story and you won't want to put it down.
A classic example of truth being stranger than fiction. Now that we have the luxury of time to look back on these events, besides blaming the social conditions of the times, possibly this book can now serve as a benchmark of lessons learned and hopefully not to be repeated.

Highly recommend for every parent of girls and boys. Read it to your kids, and help them understand what happened.

Check this book out, now.

As an archive Librarian I have a great appreciation for the work that went into this book. It is a GREAT READ! And you won't be disappointed.

Remember....all others came after this one.

Enjoy!

2-0 out of 5 stars If you enjoyed this book or are thinking or reading it...
Read Stephanie Nolen's "Promised the Moon: The Untold Story of the First Women in the Space Race" instead.
Nolen does an amazing job of contexualizing why these women were selected and why they ultimately remained grounded. If you must choose between Mercury 13 and Promisted the Moon I would go with the second book. Better researched and very well written. Highly recommend. ... Read more


15. Moondust : In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth
by Andrew Smith
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
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Asin: 0007155417
Catlog: Book (2005-08-01)
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Sales Rank: 139495
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16. The Coalwood Way
by Homer Hickam
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Asin: B00008KGBW
Catlog: Book (2000-10)
Sales Rank: 442266
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

In this follow-up to his bestselling autobiography Rocket Boys, Homer Hickam chronicles the eventful autumn of 1959 in his hometown, the West Virginia mining town of Coalwood. Sixteen-year-old Homer and his pals in the Big Creek Missile Agency are high school seniors, still building homemade rockets and hoping that science will provide them with a ticket into the wider world of college and white-collar jobs. Such dreams make them suspect in a conservative small town where "getting above yourself" is the ultimate sin and where Homer's father, superintendent of the Coalwood mines, is stingy with praise and dubious about his son's ambitions. Homer's mother remains supportive, but bluntly reminds him, "You can't expect everything to go your way. Sometimes life just has another plan." Indeed, Hickam's unvarnished portrait of Coalwood covers class warfare (union miners battling with his authoritarian father), provincial narrow-mindedness (the local ladies scorn a young woman living outside wedlock with a man who abuses her), and endless gossiping along the picket "fence line." These sharp details make the unabashed sentiment of the book's closing chapters feel earned rather than easy. Hickam can spin a gripping yarn and keep multiple underlying themes and metaphors going at the same time. His tender but gritty memoir will touch readers' hearts and minds. --Wendy Smith ... Read more

Reviews (57)

4-0 out of 5 stars Carry me back to West Virginia
The first paragraph took me back to a movie about these same characters in the same setting. Sure enough, the jacket tells us "Coalwood" is from the author of "Rocket Boys"--the memoir on which the film "October Sky" was based.

But this is not a sequel so much as it is a second look; nor is it a memoir so much as a stream of reveries, loosely woven around the disparate themes of Appalachian poverty, small town society, union-management conflict, teenage romance, and intra-family relationships. The author says he vividly recalls the episodes he relates after all these 40 years, and that, as Quentin would say, is prodigious.

For all that, the book is fun to read in the same sense a Walt Disney movie is fun to watch. Both are G-rated and have happy endings, and both give us an escape. Moreover, the author and the characters,(except for the absurd Quentin), speak with a homey vocabulary.

Though the book is as densly populated as a Dickens novel, chararacter development is not this author's long suit. Indeed, we're left with the feeling of having merely brushed by most of the people we encounter. Take O'Dell, who charms the socks off the staid Mrs. Hickam with such ease that I felt sure we were about to meet an Appalachian Eddy Haskell. Alas, he just never fills out.

Then there are the nagging implausibles:
In describing a new rocket nozzle the narrator tells us "[it was] a shade too large, probably because of me (sic) trying to design with a fat lead pencil and a large scale ruler". Come on now. This is a rocket engineer talking; one who must be well versed inmechanical drawing, and who's bound to know that though drawings are made to scale (within media limits) it's the written dimensions which determine exactly how a part gets built.
As for the home-made theodolite the boys use calculate a rocket's apogee, we're told that they taught themselves how to do this after someone "gave them an old trigonometry book" (groan, groan). The author says he was studying calculus, for which, as any high schooler will tell you, trig is a pre-req, and calculating of the height of a flagpole from the length of it's shadow is one of the first trig exercises.
Nor does it make any sense at all to suppose that a boy who studied physics and calculus wouldn't even recognize a slide rule or drawing instruments.


I enjoyed the book for all that; of course I liked Davy Crocket and Old Yeller too.

5-0 out of 5 stars I've said it before and I'll say it again:
How many wonderful works of literature were we denied by Homer Hickam (not Hickham or Hickman) going into Industrial Engineering?

This is the type of book that makes you yearn for the simpler, more innocent times of your childhood, no matter when you grew up.Something in each of us can identify with the antics of the Rocket Boys.

I sure hope that Mr. Hickam continues to write more wonderful books such as this one and all his other works.

4-0 out of 5 stars main character is engaging, flawed, well written.
Written by the same author of October Sky, about the same period in his childhood, the COALWOOD WAY and OCTOBER SKY cover the exact same themes-a son trying to shine despite the disappointment/disapproval of his father, rocket trial and error, etc-and have the exact same arcs.Minor characters and sub plots are different, however, and are very poignant and engaging.The protagonist, Sonny is an earnest boy with enough flaws to make him interesting.He is smart yet a little too proud; a friend but sometimes too self-centered to see when his closest friends are in trouble; he's handsome yet can't get a date to the senior dance.These imperfections make him the perfect Everyman, easy to root for.Minor characters are well drawn, and some are heartbreaking to watch.Dreama's tragic arc is painful but gives the story a darkness and depth.Her ostracization by town snobs is well-depicted, and shows that the author didn't just sail through his childhood without noticing the little evils that men do.Great read.

3-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining memoir
This is not to the same level of The Rocket Boys, which is a story much better told.However, The Coalwood Way is an interesting read, especially for those who truly liked The Rocket Boys.

For one thing, i was a bit disappointed about the author's foreword.He swears that even though the events in the book passed so long ago (1959), he remembers everything in tremendous detail.If he hadn't said that, i wouldn't have even thought about it.As a person with very bad memory, i don't believe him.

Some of the characters are described to a point that they almost seem caricatures.I couldn't help think of Martin on The Simpsons when reading about Quentin.Roy Lee reminded me of Elvis Presley in one of his cheesy movies.

The memoir almost redeemed itself in page 267 (chapter 27), when Sonny finally realizes what has been bugging him all along (here's something i wish i had done: jot down the items on Sonny's list as you read along).That discovery makes the book worthwhile.However, the memoir ends with the Christmas Pageant, and that image really ruined the moment for me.

5-0 out of 5 stars Drill Farther into Hickam's Coalwood Roots
Aimlessly wandering the fiction aisles of the library, glumly looking over the "been-there-done-that" Grisham novels, wishfully scanning the Hiaasen section in slim hopes of finding something new, when out of the corner of my eye, I caught a name on a book spine: Homer H. Hickam Jr.I instantly recognized the name as a character from one of my all-time favorite movies, "October Sky".I pulled the book, expecting it to be "Rocket Boys", the memoir on which the movie was based.I had always meant to pick up that book and get more familiar with the story that so captivated me in the movie.Only, the title of this book was "The Coalwood Way".Instantly, I knew that my browsing malaise was cured (funny how that often works)!

Not only did I now have a chance to get more familiar with the "Rocket Boys" story and characters, but I also had a whole other novel with which to do it.For, you see, this memoir isn't really a sequel to the aforementioned book, but actually an expansion of a section of the original story; a kind of story within a story.Think of it as zooming in on just one section of a fractal image to see all of the intricate details within the new image.

The scope of the first memoir was pretty much the entire high school career of Homer (Sonny) and the Rocket Boys and focused predominantly on their exploits with amateur rocketry.But, the real charm of the original story came from the background setting and people of Coalwood, West (by God) Virginia.The boys of the Big Creek Missile Agency (BCMA) still play a big part in this story that spans basically only one year of high school from roughly Christmas of their junior year through Christmas of their senior year.However, this time around, rocketry plays second fiddle as we delve much deeper into the lush background and learn more about Sonny's deep roots in Coalwood and how really fortunate (and bittersweet) it was that he and the rest of the boys of the BCMA could escape that life.

Having seen the movie first, I found myself constantly imposing the images of the actors onto the characters in the book, which wasn't always such a bad thing since all of the characters in the movie were wonderfully cast.The only time this was a problem was with the group of boys, which in the movie numbered four, but in the book numbered six!It seems that possibly as many as three characters in the books, Sherman, O'Dell and Billy, were all "merged" into one character, Sherman O'Dell, in the movie.Not much of a problem, though, as Hickam's eloquent prose quickly conjured up images for all six young men.

In this story, the town of Coalwood really comes alive.I instantly felt like I could have grown up there myself and maybe, in a way, I did.Hickam has an uncanny ability to touch the heartstrings of just about any American man (and possibly woman as well) who grew up in and around that time period, regardless of geographic location.We all have either shared a common anecdote or experienced an unrequited, adolescent love like he describes in his books (I was just crushed when Ginger told him that they would just be great friends).The ending of this book did seem a bit sappy and contrived but, darn it, I felt like it really needed to have a storybook ending.The beleaguered folks of Coalwood deserved one, even if it probably didn't actually happen exactly like that (i.e. historical fiction).

I immensely enjoyed this book.So much so, that I have since gone back and read the original "Rocket Boys" and then skipped forward to read the third book in the series "Sky of Stone".I'll probably also buy his non-fiction book "Torpedo Junction" and his true fiction novel "Back to the Moon".But, this is the one that started it for me.I think I have found another favorite author! ... Read more


17. Deke! : An Autobiography
by Donald K. Slayton, Michael Cassutt
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
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Asin: 031285918X
Catlog: Book (1995-06-15)
Publisher: Forge Books
Sales Rank: 98131
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Deke Slayton was one of the first seven Mercury astronauts--and he might have been the first American in space. Instead, he became the first chief of American Astronaut Corps.It was Deke Slayton who selected the crews who flew the Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab missions. It was Deke Slayton who made Neil Armstrong the first man on the moon.

Deke! is Deke Slayton's' story--told in his own words and in the voices of the men and women who worked with him and knew him best. Deke Slayton's knowledge of how the .S. manned space program worked is the missing piece of every space buff's puzzle. Now, after decades of silence, he tells his priceless stories of those years when American was engaged in the greatest voyage of exploration in human history.
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Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars Slayton Does Not Miss a Thing-Even the MOL Guys
I grew up on the back gate of NASA-JSC, and have met several people involved in the space program, including a few astronauts. I am also an engineer.

This book goes into great detail from a man who was there all the time from the beginning in 1959 until he retired in 1982. Slayton wrote this as he was dying, and I learned quite a bit about World War II and being a test pilot.

For example, I did not know that exceptional high school grads could fly during WWII, and they had to apply for commissions after the war was over. Slayton went to college on the GI Bill, and served in the Minnesota National Guard. He was called back into the National Guard in 1951 during the Korean War. Slayton was a man who enjoyed flying.

Slayton also goes into details about Delta Seven, which was supposed to be his Mercury mission,which he lost due to a heart ailment. Later, he flew on Apollo-Soyuz. Slayton also covers how mission crews were chosen, and who was even on the backup crews. This way, I found out who the crews were for flights that never took place (Apollo 18 and 19, plus probable choices for Apollo 20). Slayton also covers his days at Space Services, Inc. (I wish someone would try to do something like Space Services, Inc.)

What I really liked was I got some inspiration to write a book about the astronauts from the Manned Orbiting Laboratory Program. Slayton mentions 3-4 pages about this group of "forgotten astronauts." Many of these astronauts showed a lot of perseverance and waited up to 14 years to fly for the first time on the Space Shuttle.

4-0 out of 5 stars A superb autobiography from a NASA pioneer
Having read several NASA histories and astronaut biographies, for years I had been curious about the Apollo program's chief astronaut, Deke Slayton. Thankfully the autobiography "Deke" delivers his story and delivers it very well.

Unlike in "Moonshot" (the other purported co-autobiography of Deke Slayton along with fellow astronaut Alan Shepard), "Deke" comes across as you would have imagined the man - direct, somewhat gruff, but fair and honest. One of the Original Seven astronauts, Slayton candidly writes how the men, the machines, and the space missions combined into stepping stones to the moon. What really stands out, however, are his observations of the astronauts. He knew them all and to him crew assignments, which he picked, weren't slots to be filled. Instead they were unique individuals, each of whom was ideally suited and prepared for a space mission. So "Deke" ends up providing the most comprehensive view of the astronaut corps in the 1960s.

"Deke" is also one of the few NASA autobiographies written with professional humility. Slayton's confidence comes across without him touting his accomplishments, yet this book cemented my idea of Slayton as one of the most underrated participants in NASA's history. From the astronauts' perspective, his contributions were as important as the German rocket makers who took us to the moon. That makes "Deke" absolutely necessary for anyone with even a passing curiosity in NASA, astronauts, and space travel.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Pretty Good Astronaut Autobiography
This is the autobiography of one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts, selected in April 1959 to fly in space. Deke Slayton served as a NASA astronaut during Projects Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP), and while he was originally scheduled to pilot the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission he was relieved of this assignment due to a mild, occasional, irregular heart palpitation discovered in August 1959. His only space flight took place in July 1975 as a crewmember aboard the ASTP mission.

Instead of flying, Slayton became the titular head of the astronauts, officially being named Coordinator of Astronaut Activities in September 1962, and was responsible for the operation of the astronaut office. In November 1963, he resigned his commission as an Air Force Major to assume the role of Director of Flight Crew Operations. For a decade he oversaw the activities of the astronauts, most importantly making crew assignments and managing the full range of astronaut activities. Slayton personally chose all of the crews, determining among other things that Neil Armstrong would be the first person to walk on the Moon in July 1969.

As one might expect, Slayton wielded enormous power at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston (renamed the Johnson Space Center in 1973) in his role as director of the astronaut office. He effectively kept a collection of egotistical-for good reason-hot-shot pilots under control and maximized their role in the NASA of the 1960s. His place in helping to ensure the success of Project Apollo cannot be underestimated. This book is the recollection of Slayton during his NASA career. It contains a lot of standard information that most space history buffs are aware of, as well as some new stories. As always in such books as this, Slayton seeks to get behind the techno-nerd facade of NASA and emphasize its human side. Accordingly, we see astronauts in social settings and in embarrassing situations, as well as in their hardworking day jobs. A high point of the book is the discussion his early experiences as a farm boy from Wisconsin who flew bombers in World War II, went to college on the GI Bill, and became a member of one of the most celebrated teams in modern American history, the Mercury Seven.

Michael Cassutt, an outstanding writer with a string of other superb books, ensures that this is an excellent memoir. Especially so, since Cassutt saw it through publication after the death of Slayton on June 13, 1993, in League City, Texas, from a brain tumor. This is not the best of the astronaut autobiographies, that distinction belongs to Michael Collins' "Carrying the Fire," but it is a pretty good one.

3-0 out of 5 stars Waking up the 'fly boy' gene
Here's a test pilot, who buys into the Race for Space against the Russians, and then gets grounded for a unpredictable heart defibrilation and is no longer eligible to be in the flight rotation. He can still fly planes. T-34's and 38's all he wants but nothing that goes straight up.

So he steps up and builds the Astronaut Liason office, basically making sure that the astronauts become part of mission objective developement teams, making sure that the astronauts get all of the training they can stand, and he's also the one assigning men to teams and teams to flights.

It's his job to get to know each of the astronauts well enough to (with the help of others, granted) decide who goes where and in what capacity. To make sure there aren't personality conflits with the boys on the same flights, to make sure that there is always someone else trained so that when something goes wrong, someone else can step in. What an amazing amount of pressure.

And he did write about the things that go wrong. He wrote about the airplane accidents that took the lives of several astronauts and how as a close group of workmates they had to cope and keep going. He wrote about Apollo I. He hand picked the men who would be in that tin can the day of the plugs out test. One of them Virgil (Gus) Grissom, who was a member of the "Original 7" with Deke and a good friend.

This book wasn't just about the manned space program, though that was certainly the focus, it was a autobiography written by a man who knows that he has cancer and is taking advantage of the time left to him to tell his story in his own words (though it is co-written). It is a well told story and a very interesting perspective to have. This book was middling technical, not a whole lot but some stuff, while probably dumbed down specifically for people like me who aren't pilots or engineers, was still kind of tough to slog through.

Thankfully having been around airplanes most of my life, at least that part I got the jist of. It's like there's a fly boy gene (though my grandma's got it too) that Deke had, that my Grandparents and my Dad have; that I might have a bit of. Flying is like setting things up and knocking them down. It was really cool to have this love of airplanes almost given back to me. Deke writes with such love and joy of his time flying planes that I think if you have a bit of the fly boy gene it's going to waken that up for you too.

5-0 out of 5 stars A True Hero.. Mercury to Flight Operations to Apollo-Soyuz
As one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, Deke Slayton was grounded before his Delta 7 seven flight (the one scheduled after Glenn's first orbital flight). Although disappointed, he overcame this set-back and became Director of Flight Operations which means he was responsible for the astronauts and flight selections. He had the respect of the group and treated them fairly.

DEKE is honest, objective, and written in a matter-of-fact manner. The most interesting part of the book is the "behind the scenes" information on crew selection and rotation. A very interesting fact is that Deke, Kraft, and Gilruth agreed that a Mercury astronaut would make the first landing on the moon if possible. Gus Grissom was unofficially tapped to take the first step on the moon prior to his tragic death on the pad for an Apollo 1 test.

Ten years after being grounded in Mercury, Deke gets clearance to fly in the joint US-Soviet Apollo-Soyuz mission. This was long overdue and add poetic justice for someone responsible, in large part, for NASA's success.

I recommend reading Chris Kraft's Flight book first. It gives a detailed historical perspective while DEKE fills the gaps. My respect for Deke Slayton is even greater than ever after reading this book. ... Read more


18. Sojourner: An Insider's View of the Mars Pathfinder Mission
by Andrew Mishkin
list price: $21.95
our price: $14.93
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Asin: 0425191990
Catlog: Book (2003-12-01)
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 91750
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Andrew Mishkin, a senior systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a leader of NASA's robotic program, brings us this insider's look at the Mars Pathfinder probe that electrified the world's imagination.

One hundred twenty-two million miles away from her controllers, a sophisticated robot smaller than a microwave oven did what had never been done before-explored the rocky, red terrain of Mars. Then, six-wheeled Sojourner beamed spectacular pictures of her one-of-a-kind mission back to Earth. And millions of people were captivated.

Now, with the touch of an expert thriller writer, Sojourner operations team leader Andrew Mishkin tells the inside, human story of the Mars Pathfinder mission's feverish efforts to build a self-guided, offroading robot to explore the surface of the Red Planet. With witty, compelling anecdotes, he describes the clash of temperamental geniuses, the invention of a new work ethic, the turf wars, the chewing-gum solutions to high-tech problems, the controlled chaos behind the strangely beautiful creation of an artificial intelligence-and the exhilaration of inaugurating the next great age of space exploration
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Valuable Resource
Like other books concerning the space program (e.g."Moon Hunters") this book is an interesting historical document concerning some of JPL's remarkable accomplishments. In addition however, the author provides valuable technical insights into the unique thinking, problem solving, and development obstacles which scientists and engineers encounter when exploring remote areas of our world and universe. From a project management perspective, Mishkin has demonstrated how issues over team dynamics, personality, scheduling, and budgets were successfully overcome to attain success beyond all expectations.
I think that this book would make excellent reading for scientists and engineers destined to manage major team oriented projects. This book also should prove of great interest to people working in space science, oceanographic work, or other such fields with similar problems and they will likely find several technical parallels to the mode of thinking that is applied to their own areas.
I would think that JPL would gain much in the way of public interest and support if similar books appear in the future.

5-0 out of 5 stars Worth the read
Mishkin takes the reader on the bumpy, rock-strewn path of rover development at JPL and does so in readable terms. Forget acronyms or dry engineering terms here, it's a highly readable account of one of NASA's great achievements of the past decade. The book is full of anecdotes and good writing.
It also shows how the Mars program had too grand a scale with their intial rover program in the early 1990s. They scaled it back and came up with the smaller Pathfinder, or Sojourner (but what everybody just calls "the rover") that was very well executed in 1997.
Now, two more rovers are slated to land on Mars by Jan. 4, 2004. Read this book and the story of how long and interesting that voyage truly is will unfold. ... Read more


19. Letters from MIR: An Astronaust's Letters to His Son
by Jerry M. Linenger
list price: $18.95
our price: $12.89
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Asin: 0071400095
Catlog: Book (2002-08-19)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Sales Rank: 29792
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

An inspiring, deeply moving testament to the timelessness of paternal love

Dr. Jerry Linenger's 132 days aboard the decaying Russian space station Mir were beset by power outages that left the crew in total darkness and tumbling out of control, poisonous chemical leaks, and near collisions with space debris. Most terrifying of all was a raging fire that, in a matter of minutes, nearly destroyed the station and all on board.

It was with that last event, when, with the crew cut off from the world below and locked in a battle for survival, Linenger's letters to his son changed from a routine chronicle of daily events into the eloquent, deeply moving serial narrative presented in Letters from Mir. Combining wise meditations on life, destiny, and the future of space exploration with wryly playful observations on everyday life, this openended conversation between a father and his beloved son is as contemporary as the latest Mars Explorer mission, yet as timeless as the paternal sentiments they express.

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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars ...to Mr. Keller.
As a friend of Jerry's, I feel I should correct something. (Not that he or his record need defending.) We do in fact speed up to reach higher orbits. This puts energy into the orbit, resulting in a higher/larger orbit. The resulting average velocity is lower, but we got there by increasing velocity from a lower orbit. Conversely, to decrease altitude, we slow down. Again, average velocity is higher, but we got there by slowing down (taking energy out of our orbit).

Also, if the detail in Jerry's letters is too much, it seems inconsistent to then say it is a "glaring error" to use 7 million pounds of liftoff thrust instead of 6.6...

4-0 out of 5 stars A Bit Odd in Places
Jerry Linenger was the fourth NASA astronaut of a total of seven who served aboard the Russian space station Mir. His mission lasted from January 12, 1997, till May 24, 1997 giving him a total of 132 days in space. At the time, this was the longest duration flight of an American male. During his stay, Jerry Linenger became the first American to conduct a space walk from a foreign space station and in a non-American made spacesuit. He and his two Russian colleagues also performed a "fly around" in the Soyuz spacecraft, undocking from one docking port of the station, manually flying to and redocking at a different location. While living Mir, Linenger and his two Russian crewmembers faced numerous difficulties, the most severe fire ever aboard an orbiting spacecraft, failures of onboard systems and a near collision with a resupply cargo ship during a manual docking system test. These tales and many others are recounted in his other book, "Off the Planet: Surviving Five Perilous Months Aboard the Space Station Mir."

In his latest offering, Dr. Linenger recounts these events as well as many others, using personal letters sent, via e-mail, to his 14 month old son and a few to his wife and mission control. It is quite clear from these letters that he was very proud of his young son, missed him and his wife a great deal and that he felt extremely isolated and alone. Several of the letters I found very refreshing, such as the need to honest (especially in this day and age); however, I also found many of the letters to be rather strange. Dr. Linenger goes into a great amount of detail about the equipment on the Mir, such as heat rejection system and the carbon dioxide removal system. I doubt most high school students could understand what he was trying to say. Maybe it's me, but if I were going to write letters to my toddler son, I would keep the technical descriptions simple. I would want him to be able to read my letter say by the time he was ten. The very technical sections within the book also take away from the general tone of the book of his isolation, missing his son, wife and the planet Earth. One letter to mission details his concern about safety, almost a foreboding of things to come on the next mission with Michael Foale.

I also found two glaring errors in the book. First, the liftoff thrust of the shuttle is not 7 million lbs, but 6.6 million lbs. Second, his description of the orbital mechanics is described incorrectly. He states, "We go faster in order to get up higher. As we slow down, our orbit lowers." The exact opposite is true. The lower the orbit the higher the velocity and the higher the orbit the slower the velocity. For example, communication satellites that are essentially stationary over the Earth (one orbit per day) are at an altitude of 23,000 miles. The space station, which orbits the Earth every 90 minutes, is at an altitude of 250 miles. As an astronaut, he should know better.

In conclusion, if you want to know what happen to Jerry Linenger aboard Mir, read his other book, "Off the Planet: Surviving Five Perilous Months Aboard the Space Station Mir." If you want to know how he felt orbiting the Earth and his feelings of isolation, get this book. ... Read more


20. Amelia Earhart's Daughters : The Wild And Glorious Story Of American Women Aviators From World War II To The Dawn Of The Space Age
by Leslie Haynsworth, David Toomey
list price: $14.00
our price: $11.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0380729849
Catlog: Book (2000-07-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 313499
Average Customer Review: 4.89 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1942, with war raging on two fronts and military pilots in short supply, the U.S. Army Air Force enlisted a handful of skilled female aviators to deliver military planes from factories to air bases--expanding the successful program to include more than one thousand women. These superb pilots flew every aircraft in the U.S. Army Air Force--including B-26s when men were afraid to--logging more than siz million miles in all kinds of weather. yet when World War II ended, their wartime heroism was left unheralded.

In 1961, with the dawn of the space age, a handful of top female pilots took part in a new program termed "Women in Space." Subjected to the same rigorous tests as the Mercury astronauts, thirteen women--top-notch pilots--were admitted to the program. Once again women had reason to dream...that at least oneof them would be the first of their sex in space. The matter went as far as Congress, where dramatic hearings included testimony from astronauts John Glenn and Scott Carpenter. But their hopes were dashed. These skilled aviators had the "right stuff" at the wrong time, and again women were denied their place in history. This is their story, one of courage, ferocity, adn patriotism.

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Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars From WASPS To MERCURY
Hainsworth and Toomey have done an excellent job in creating an overview of women as pilots and the special challenges they met in WWII through the Mercury Astronaut testing program. Their research is sound, the writing is easy to digest. They do credit to two groups of women who have been often kept from the history books.

4-0 out of 5 stars a good book
This is a good book. I liked the people in it and the stories were interesting. There was a lot of stuff here I never knew before.

5-0 out of 5 stars Daughters delivers verve, wit, and spellbinding history
I picked up this book on a friend's recommendation and with few expectations. I had had no interest in aviation, am a tremulous airplane passenger, and when my fourth grade class assembled to watch the histoic moon landing, I had more interest in one small boy next to me than I did in one small step for man. Not anymore. Haynsworth's and Toomey's gripping narrative style and rigorous scholarship provide what few history books do, page-turning excitement. This book conveys the miraculous wonder that spectators must have experienced at early barn-storming events: breathless amazement at mankind flying high and fast beyond the clouds and straight into the impossible. From contraptions of wood and wire, barely recognizable as planes, to 6.2 million pound machines hurtling through the air at speeds of 6,000 miles an hour, Amelia Earhart's Daughters presents the great scope of the history of women in aviation. Walk, run, hell, fly to your nearest bookstore and pick up this book, you'll be glad you did and grateful to these pioneer women aviators and the authors for letting you share the ride.

5-0 out of 5 stars Makes Me Feel A Mile-High
The stories of women innovators always excite, but the story told by Haynsworth and Toomey is inspirational. More than a feel-good book, however, this book ranks as the best historical text I've read since "The Rape of Europa." Amelia Earhart's Daughters should make its way into all high-school reading lists. The stories of these unknown angels are vital components of the story of women in the 20th Century.

5-0 out of 5 stars a great book about the exploits of heroic women
Some of these stories are incredible--when Pat Patterson and Marge Gilbert land a B-26 on one engine, when Hazel Ying Lee gets mistaken for a Japanese pilot, when Nancy Love buzzes a control tower because the control tower operator can't imagine that a women is flying a P-51 Mustang. It's gripping stuff! ... Read more


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