Interestingly, the best parts of this book were not about Apollo 11. The chapter on von Braun was outstanding. The chapter on the Soviets was so good, it came across as far too short. But the final chapter, what would otherwise be an overly-long post script, was one of the best and most inspiring pieces I have ever read (or listened to). If you find yourself bored, then you just don't "get it, and the final chapter explains that point well. Nelson's observations about how NASA set itself up for post-Apollo malaise by not putting the moon landings into the context of a larger plan were dead on. McGonagle was a perfect choice as narrator. His authoritative style fit perfectly with the story line. My only complaint was Nelson's repeated assertion that the X-15 was "towed" into the air. This glaring factual error caused me, at points, to doubt everything else in the story.
I agree with other reviewers who have quipped OK if you have patience. By midway through the book it was drudgery to keep going. I hung in there and in the end, found it to be only barely worth my time. My biggest disappointment was that this is a book about Oppie's political trials and tribulations; not about science. Even in retrospect I find it astounding that someone can write such a detailed account of Oppenheimer's life and say so little about the heart of the man's life...which was science. What you do get in full measure is intricate descriptions of who was meeting whom during which FBI wiretap and who testified against whom to save their owns skins. Thus, this was a book about personalities; not about the world-changing events that marked Oppie's life. A non-scientist with an interest in the McCarthy era may well enjoy this book thoroughly. But I, alas, did not.
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