This book relates a truly interesting episode in recent history, and does an outstanding job illustrating how the medical scientific process can really work -- and how public perception can be pretty far out of line with medical reality.
The author's work leaves much to be desired. The book too often focuses annoyingly on useless details, such as whether coffee was served, or where a camera was placed in a lecture hall; yet it skims far too lightly over issues of character: why key people in the story behaved as they did.
I found myself playing the book at 1.5x or ever 2x speed to zoom through portions where unimportant details were conveyed for minutes at a time; yet I was hungry for more about the key players' difficulties, joys, and formative experiences -- and the utterly unexplained motivations for some of the biggest conflicts described.
First I should mention that this book has almost nothing to do with a journey to Mars, and not very much to do with what to bring when going into space.
What we have here is an extremely detailed recounting of the biological, psychological, and hygiene problems that astronauts have in space -- with a strong focus on the US space flights of the 1960s. If you want to know whether it's hard to urinate in zero gravity, or whether the inside of a space capsule smells bad, or whether astronauts are annoyed by their schedules, this is your book. It was all kind of interesting, but not what I was looking for. I now have visions of floating turds inside a space capsule that are pretty hard to unsee.
Also, the author thinks she is funny, and thinks we want to hear all about how she looked into these topics, what the people she interviewed are like at lunchtime, and whether she enjoyed learning about each subject. Frankly I got pretty tired of learning about her and her unimportant reactions, as opposed to the actual (icky) subjects.
I was expecting to see some exciting storytelling, some major business trend themes, and maybe even some character development. What I got felt like hours of someone reading a police blotter aloud: this happened, then this happened, then this person said this, then this happened. The author really fails to find what's interesting or to extract any themes.
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