Gene Kranz was present at the creation of America's manned space program and was a key player in it for three decades. As a flight director in NASA's Mission Control, Kranz witnessed firsthand the making of history. He participated in the space program from the early days of the Mercury program to the last Apollo mission, and beyond. He endured the disastrous first years when rockets blew up and the United States seemed to fall further behind the Soviet Union in the space race. He helped to launch Alan Shepard and John Glenn, then assumed the flight director's role in the Gemini program, which he guided to fruition. With his teammates, he accepted the challenge to carry out President John F. Kennedy's commitment to land a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s.
Kranz was flight director for both Apollo 11, the mission in which Neil Armstrong fulfilled President Kennedy's pledge, and Apollo 13. He headed the Tiger Team that had to figure out how to bring the three Apollo 13 astronauts safely back to Earth. (In the film Apollo 13, Kranz was played by the actor Ed Harris, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance.)
In Failure Is Not an Option, Gene Kranz recounts these thrilling historic events and offers new information about the famous flights. What appeared as nearly flawless missions to the moon were, in fact, a series of hair-raising near misses. When the space technology failed, as it sometimes did, the controllers' only recourse was to rely on their skills and those of their teammates. Kranz takes us inside Mission Control and introduces us to some of the whiz kids - still in their twenties, only a few years out of college - who had to figure it all out as they went along, creating a great and daring enterprise. He reveals behind-the-scenes details to demonstrate the leadership, discipline, trust, and teamwork that made the space program a success.
©2009 Gene Kranz (P)2011 Tantor
"Plenty of books (and several films) have already tried to depict the space program's excitement; few of their creators had the first-person experience or the attention to detail Krantz has, whose role as flight control "White" his readers will admire or even wish to emulate." (Publishers Weekly)
I'm a huge fan of both Cold War history and anything to do with space, so this was a natural choice. The historical perspective is great, and I was very interested in hearing a true firsthand account.
The narrative, however, struck my as either incomplete or slightly insincere. Kranz seems to go out of his way to never admit to doubts or faults in his own mind. He was never wrong, and other opinions were generally not acceptable. America, Jesus, and seemingly Krantz himself were flawless, perfect heroes and anyone who got in the way was either an enemy or was unintelligent. Maybe that is how his mind works, but such black-and-white thinking never satisfies me.
I don't necessarily recommend avoiding the book because of that fact, but understand it may feel incomplete. Red Moon Rising and Rocket Men felt like more sincere and nuanced histories.
The book gives exciting view of space.ezplpration from.inside mission control. you feel like you are there and a part of the team. You relish the triumphs and mourn the losses. I highly recommend this book. It is one you wish could go on and on.
Loved it. So much I never knew about. Admire Gene Kranz immensely. Ever since the movie Apollo 13 I have been intrigued with the space program and Gene Kranz. By the way...his wife Marta is a Saint.
Book is "heavy" It is rather for space programms enthusiast than just interested in the topic. But I don't regret reading.
This book has inside stories that I have not heard before about the various space programs from the very beginning up to the end of the Apollo missions. Gene has a great way with words, which makes it easy to imagine what it must have been like going through all of the stages of the programs.
I've lived in Austin, Texas, for over 10 years, not Houston. World War II is my lifelong interest since my father was a combat veteran in the 8th Air Force. I grew up with pilots, bombardiers, and navigators. They told me many stories of their experiences and I cannot get enough of books and documentaries.
Gene Kranz Hero. Knowing he is famous, looking at the details of his life really impresses. His accomplishments and leadership define the American hero. The speech to his flight controllers the Monday after the Apollo 1 fire is one of the pivotal moments in American history.
"Thunder Below" is about another American hero that got things done like Gene. In other words, Gene would love this book.
I was still hearing Gene's voice and seeing his facial expressions.
Yes. The story of NASA between Apollo 1 fire and Apollo 8 landing is an American story. It was like WWII, a moment of incredible human perseverance, focus, and accomplishment. Apollo 8 was the pinnacle. The flight had so much confidence and competency that they damn near hit the ship when they landed and changed the flight rules to not target the recovery ship in the future.
I worked with Gene at NASA near the end of his career. Learning what came before was an amazing journey for me.
At times tense, emotional & patriotic, Kranz leads the reader through a turbulent time in the early days of NASA from the Mercury through to more well known Apollo missions. This memoir could have had a good third edited out, but it's worth staying through the frequent acronyms and technical jargon for the nuggets of gold than lend insight into the personal commitment and extreme challenges faced by mission controller as America is cements itself into the history books during the space race.
This is a very technical account of what has happened with the US space program. This is delivered in a bit dry manner in which it is difficult to be excited about this book. Too many abbreviations and too many technical details in which is missing the great.
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