©1988 by Walter M. Schirra, Jr., and Richard N. Billings; (P)2000 by the Naval Institute Press
I am a big fan of the Apollo space program, so when I saw this one unabridged on Audible (keep those unabridged books coming, Audible), I had to give it a try. Unfortunately, Schirra's Space is a bit light on the details and a bit heavy on the "Gotchas," or practical jokes the astronauts played on each other. The jokes are fun to read about, and have their place, but they are a bit self-aggrandizing and add too much fluff. I expected a bit more from Wally Schirra, the only astronaut to fly in Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. Perhaps he is saving his best flight stories for later.
I really enjoyed the story telling in this book. I have read extensively about Apollo, but it's hard to find good audio books about early spaceflight development, Mercury, and Gemini. You definitely get some inside information about the Original 7. There is a bit of soapboxing in there I could have done without, but it's mostly funny now, because the criticism is pretty out of date. The recording quality was a little up and down, but tolerable and didn't interupt the story too bad. If you're a NASA buff...you'll want to check this out.
This story of one of America's first pioneers into space is one that needed to be told. It was not as flashy as John Glen's story. It was not as controversial as Gordon Cooper's. It is also about the working ethics of American Test Pilots.
People who are looking for an in-depth look at Apollo will be a little disappointed. This book is about everything leading up to the Apollo 7 flight, including the fateful decision to enter the Naval Academy instead of West Point or the drawing of lots between a bomber and fighter billets.
That being said it is a wonderful journey through the hardships of the space race. It is a good counterpoint to other books of the era, such as Tom Wolff's 'The Right Stuff'. Worth the listen.
The audio quality of the recording was not very good.
I agree with other reviews that the "gotchas" and practical jokes can be a bit much but, as a former US Navy trained Coast Guard Aviator, I can very much relate to the antics that go on between pilots. Men at the very high level of performance as Wally and company simply have that much more steam to blow off. A wonderful memoir from the only guy that was right in the middle of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Wally tells it as he lived it. It can't get much better than that for those of us that grew up with the manned space-flight program. The accomplishments of these remarkable people caused me to become a military pilot, an experience that shaped my life in the most positive way imaginable. Audio quality leaves much to be desired but, I agree with others, it does not significantly detract from the tale.
Growing up I was a huge fan ofthe space program and this book is a nice summary since Schirra was the only astronaut to fly in Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. A good read although I do agree with other readers that too much time is spent detailing practical jokes among the pilots. All in all a good book.
"Awful sound quality"
Unfortunately the quality of the sound on this audiobook ranged from poor to absolutely dreadful. I usually listen to audiobooks on the train but this one was so muffled that I could only hear it in a quiet room at home.
The book itself was interesting, but not the best I have read on the early manned space missions.
"An informative, yet entertaining read"
I have had rather a huge interest in the space race age, in particular the mercury, gemini and apollo programs. Walley schirra certainly has done a good job in writing his book about his memoirs, both in the navy, in space, and other ventures. May he rest in peace.
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