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)
This was a terrific book, by the man who defined "Flight" in Mission Control from the beginning of the Mercury Spaceflight Program.
Superbly researched and written with both the technical mind of an engineer and the enthusiasm of a space acolyte, this book provides the inside details of the NASA program.
Here is a man who exudes leadership, toughness, and discipline as he and his team blaze frontiers and push the boundaries of space on all levels. But the tough exterior also holds within the capacity for tenderness, humility, teamwork, love of family, and love of God. You are a great guy Gene. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience in this book.
Gene Kranz was there, and his memoir of his amazing time at NASA is rich with technical accuracy, but is painfully short on emotion and drama. Sadly, this reads more like an operations manual full of jargon and acronyms than as storytelling.
Campbell's dreadfully monotone delivery, coupled with Kranz's dry text makes for one very long drone.
I was fascinated by the story of the missions, but Kranz's "voice" as an author carried this out of the ballpark. He's inspiring in his lack of ego, his obvious respect for his team, and his respect for the missions. I love hearing about this time of great triumph told by a man who doesn't revel in himself, but in what we as a people were able to do.
I highly recommend this. I didn't find it dry, in the least. A basic knowledge of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions will make this more exciting, as you will already have the astronauts' stories-- the story of the huge team behind them becomes even more important.
Kranz as a person is the greatest part of this for me. I found it to be a kind of "self help" book in that he models so many qualities that we might strive to have, but it's not boring like self-help books, nor is it egotistical. (I think of those self-congratulatory tomes and TED talks in which people tell me all about how great they are in the guise of telling me how to be a better person.)
For Kranz, we are in it for each other, for our nation -- for the mission -- not for ourselves. We admit to our mistakes, and we work to do better constantly. Failure is not an option in that context.
Great story! Great book! Great author!
Darned exciting stuff, too! It inspires.
The Audible narration is right on the money, too.
Gene Granz was at the center of the development of the U.S. space program, often in the hot seat as flight controller for key events in the early exploration of space and the moon missions. While the catastrophic fire of Apollo 1 and near disaster of Apollo 13 are well known, Mr. Kranz vividly reveals the difficulties that threatened many missions from Mercury through Gemini and Apollo, and the responses of astronauts and controllers in making certain life and death decisions. This is a riveting story by a man who was not only there but had to make those decisions and find solutions. The audio performance by Danny Campbell is good and provides the right tone for the book, but the overall listen is choppy with hundreds of edits throughout that sound as if edits were recorded in a different studio by a different person. The audio tone often changes from sentence to sentence and sounds as if there are two different narrators. Fortunately the story is so good the audio quality is a minor annoyance and takes nothing away from the book. Hero is a title loosely distributed these days but you will probably add Mr. Kranz to your list of bona-fide American heroes after this read.
"Too much detail?"
An interesting perspective on America's early space programme, but presented with too much detail for those with a casual interest. Perhaps one for those with a more specific interest in Mission Control!
"Team builder and leader"
It's about cutting edge leadership, under tough conditions. Today leadership is so badly understood. Usually companies employ matcho men who have little substance and little ability. Zranz shows leadership at it's best. We all remember the 3 who got to the moon. We should also remember the team on the ground, who sustained the 3.
"Fascinating story told by a true NASA legend!"
Absolutely! A storey full of little facts you just can't pick up anywhere else....
I couldn't pick one specific scene, as I honestly enjoyed the whole storey, but I must say the chapters on the Gemini missions really grabbed my interest!
I couldn't put it down....we'll take the headphones out in this case!
A must read (or listen....) for any space enthusiasts!
"Fantastic story of a hero"
No. I've heard it now but would listen to other material about the space shots.
They're all amazing characters: the engineers and of course the astronauts,
He managed to be the voice of Gene Krantz.
Interest and admiration for guys who took big risks to achieve huge things. Not sure it could happen now.
Fascinating to hear the story from the ground crew rather than the astronaut perspective
Apollo 12 - SCE to Aux
By the seat of our pants
A fascinating story. I've read a lot of books by astronauts but this is the first by a member of the ground crew. Kranz made famous through being one of the flight controllers on Apollo 13 who "got the crew home" does an excellent job of taking us through the story from the initial Mercury missions, taking in all the highs and lows along the way through Gemini to the heyday of Apollo. An inspiring story of men made from the right stuff.
"So make sure you get to the end"
So how did they really get to the Moon with sixties technology. A fascinating read with a lot of 'superhero team work' reminders but failure to get to the end is not the option to take. The 'right stuff' for mission controllers everywhere.
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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