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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

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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
  •  
    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
  •  
    Zax 03-25-15
    Zax 03-25-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent story"

    Well written, and detailed. If you are a space nut this book is just the ticket. Very good narration. Good read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Toni Spencer 03-15-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Loved Failure is Not an Option"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcin Bagsik Gliwice 03-12-15
    Marcin Bagsik Gliwice 03-12-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Interesting but..."
    Would you listen to Failure Is Not an Option again? Why?

    Book is "heavy" It is rather for space programms enthusiast than just interested in the topic. But I don't regret reading.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Tampa, FL, United States 03-03-15
    Douglas Tampa, FL, United States 03-03-15 Member Since 2007
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    "Great Read"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Scott McClanahan 03-02-15 Member Since 2012

    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.

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    "Makes you feel like an American"
    If you could sum up Failure Is Not an Option in three words, what would they be?

    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.


    What other book might you compare Failure Is Not an Option to and why?

    "Thunder Below" is about another American hero that got things done like Gene. In other words, Gene would love this book.


    What does Danny Campbell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I was still hearing Gene's voice and seeing his facial expressions.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    I worked with Gene at NASA near the end of his career. Learning what came before was an amazing journey for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ace Murray 02-10-15
    Ace Murray 02-10-15 Member Since 2012
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    "LOVED IT!"

    You've heard the stories from other points of view, but to get a "behind the scenes" look from Gene Kranz is a definite must!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mischa Courtney 01-28-15
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    "Interesting but long winded"

    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.

    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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