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Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond | [Gene Kranz]

Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Rivera Roberto CAROLINA, PR, US 06-26-15
    Rivera Roberto CAROLINA, PR, US 06-26-15 Member Since 2013
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    7
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    "Better than watching a movie"

    Extreme amount of details with the translation from a rocket scientist to a fanatic of aviation.

    Failure is Not an Option should be a quote to live by.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony Bussio Provo, UT, US 06-08-15
    Anthony Bussio Provo, UT, US 06-08-15 Member Since 2015
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    "A must read!"

    Get the spark back about going into space! This is An awesome story that takes you through each of the early missions in the space race.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Albert Sjoberg (PA) 06-05-15 Member Since 2015
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    "A wonderful story told beautifully."

    The story of the space race as told from inside mission control. This beautifully told story illustrates the right stuff that was part of the American race to space.

    Gene talks about his experiences and impressions dr the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions. The technical detail and log book like rebelling of the missions recreates the wonder, enthusiasm and menace of NASA's missions. Placing the events in political context adds a depth and honesty to a work.

    The only downside is the extensive use of acronyms throughout. Although the folks involved would have mastered the various abbreviated names rapidly during the months of planning and training, I found that nearly listening, I struggled to master all the acronyms on the trot. Fortunately I am able to listen again as this is definitely a book that will will be listened to more than once.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James C. Earley Minneapolis, MN 05-27-15
    James C. Earley Minneapolis, MN 05-27-15 Member Since 2002

    Jim Earley, Master Coach

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    "Too many names, too much detail; maybe a must read"

    Gene Kranz is my hero. The US space program was and is a massive accomplishment. The government paid for it and hundreds of American pioneers did it.

    Gene Kranz is also a class guy, a true gentleman who shares the credit with and names seemingly every one of those pioneers.

    That made for a l-o-n-g book. And a must read for this Boomer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave 05-26-15
    Dave 05-26-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Great!"

    If you enjoyed the film Apollo 13 you'll love this book. Opens your eyes to how insanely dangerous early space flight was.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric James Johnson Michigan, USA 05-24-15
    Eric James Johnson Michigan, USA 05-24-15 Member Since 2013
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    "What you didn't know about the space program"
    Would you listen to Failure Is Not an Option again? Why?

    Absolutely. I listened to many parts repeatedly to bask in the bravery, and prescience.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Failure Is Not an Option?

    Gemini astronauts working so hard during EVAs the spacesuit's cooling system could not keep up-- fogging the face shields. Bad time to have vision compromised, and no chance to wipe. And, don't miss the '4-inch flight'.


    What about Danny Campbell’s performance did you like?

    Raspy... credible, in an old-salt sort of way.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    It looked it easy-- on TV.


    Any additional comments?

    It is an outright scandal that Obama's administration has gutted NASA. Just call him Mr. Shortsighted.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Arnold, CA, USA 05-13-15
    Michael Arnold, CA, USA 05-13-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Excellent"

    Passionate historical account from one who was in the very thick of this amazing time. Well read - a great listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Harold Cooper 05-12-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Well worth the read."

    Enjoyed reliving the space program from the vantage point of someone directly involved. An amazing part of our country's history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, United States 05-12-15
    Justin OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, United States 05-12-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Good, but..."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    IowaGreyhound Ogden, IA USA 04-27-15
    IowaGreyhound Ogden, IA USA 04-27-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Exciting and educational"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Ilkley, United Kingdom
    11/13/12
    Overall
    "Technical account"

    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.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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