At 9:32 A.M. on July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 rocket launched in the presence of more than a million spectators who had gathered to witness a truly historic event. It carried Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins to the last frontier of human imagination: the moon.
Rocket Men is the thrilling story of the moon mission, and it restores the mystery and majesty to an event that may have become too familiar for most people to realize what a stunning achievement it represented in planning, technology, and execution.
Through interviews, 23,000 pages of NASA oral histories, and declassified CIA documents on the space race, Craig Nelson re-creates a vivid and detailed account of the Apollo 11 mission. From the quotidian to the scientific to the magical, readers are taken right into the cockpit with Aldrin and Armstrong and behind the scenes at Mission Control.
Rocket Men is the story of a 20th-century pilgrimage, a voyage into the unknown motivated by politics, faith, science, and wonder that changed the course of history.
©2009 Craig Nelson; (P)2009 Penguin
"Using interviews, NASA oral histories, and declassified CIA material, Nelson has produced a magnificent, very readable account of the steps that led to the success of Apollo 11." (Booklist)
I bought this book because of the impending retirement of the space shuttle orbiter program and I thought this would be a great book to get perspective on the beginnings of our space race. Wow, what an amazing read! The 1960s as an era are fascinating in themselves, but the technology, the resources the dedication of these astronauts is amazing. I loved how the book is written with the launching of Apollo 11 (first moon landing) as stories interweaved through the chronological development of the space race from the early 1960s to the Apollo program and beyond. My wife and I listened to this on a road trip and even she liked it (that in itself should give this book 5 stars). I also found all the aspects of Neil Armstrong's inputs and perspective to be fascinating. What a fascinating individual. Specifically, I found the last chapter of the book to be the most fascinating where Armstrong discusses a concept of world changing events like putting a man on the moon occur when there are peaks in a society (high peak of peace, strong economy, political/social will, & competition?) intersect like they did in the 1960s to produce the space race and the achievement of putting a man on the moon. Probably something we will not see again in our lifetimes.
I loved this book for its topic, professionally crafted story and the human look it offers into the personal and professional lives of the men inside the space suits and the nerds who put them on the moon. Being a nerd, I can say that with the utmost respect for their level of education, passion for perfection, contribution to science and the safety of the crew.
Read this book if the moon missions of the 60's fascinate you. You won't want to turn it off until you finish. Then you may rewind it and do it again.
A spectacular addition to the Audible library.
I love all nonfiction but in particular history & science. When I tire of facts I'll run to fiction
This is a fascinating story taking you through the nuts and bolts of mans most ambitious adventure. The true magnitude of this event will only ever be grasped by those who lived through the frigid race in atomic weapons and access to space that dominated the cold war. Craig Nelson does as good a job as any of including the magnitude of this 9 year undertaking and the science behind the machines that brought man to the moon.
The story itself reads like something out of science fiction but is written in a way that is accessible to readers of nearly any age. The ending is where it switches from harrowing to heartbreaking. For what do you with the rest of your life once you've gone to the moon? What disturbed me even further and I believe to be the most important part of the book is the sad state of NASA after the moon mission.
Perhaps it's not NASA but the public's support of NASA waning after the moon missions that saddens me most. As we've continued down the rabbit-hole of knowledge we've become more conservative, avoiding the risks on the edge of what we consider to be possible. This not only hampers our current knowledge but limits what could be giant leaps for mankind into a series of small steps for man.
Deep background on the space program and astronauts
The lesser well know key players in the program
Easy to listen to.
Apollo One fire
I don't knows since I read technical stuff.
Of course Apollo 11 is the most memorable. While the book essentially starts with the launch of the moon-landing mission, it digresses a number of times to cover tangential elements, facts, and stories. Deciding the most memorable moment is like deciding the most memorial moment of you child’s birth.
I grew up during the space race. Astronauts on tv was an almost daily occurance. This behind the scenes look at the program from the prespective of Apollo 11 as the pinnacle deepened and broadened my understanding and respect for everyone involved with the space program. It also makes me a little sad to see what we were able to then and how small and lost without a clear goal NASA has become.
My favorite has always been Gene Krantz. He understood the only way we would succees was for everyone to give their best every day.
His straightforward delivery.
Some od the author's editorializing at the end was jarring and seemed, to me, out of place.
This is an excellent book about the Apollo programme. It alternates between extremely detailed descriptions of the Apollo 11 mission and background about the development of rocket flight and the politics behind the decision to go to the Moon. It ends with a very thoughtful chapter on the reasons why the Apollo programme was ultimately abandoned and why the USA disengaged from manned Lunar travel.
My only disappointment was that the author only described the Apollo 11 mission in detail; I would love to have seen him give the same level of attention to the other missions (but it would have made the book 6 times longer!)
The reader is excellent.
This is a fascinating book about the beginning of the space race through Apollo 11. Great insight into the thoughts of those involved in space exploration as well as the lives that were changed because of it. This book is centered around Apollo 11, but a lot of it has to do with the creation of the rocket and the missions leading up to Armstrong and Aldrin walking on the moon. Narration is great and the information is really intriguing.
clwalker IT Admin
I was totally obsessed with the space program during the time of Apollo and thought I knew everything about it and NASA. This fascinating book and very good narration reveals the real story of the politics involved during the space race and gives the feeling of being present behind the scenes during the critical parts of the space program and the moon landing. It was a true reality check as most of what I believed to be true was the sanitized version allowed out to the media. I had always thought of Kennedy as the main promoter of the space program. I discovered, to my surprise, that Lyndon Johnson was more knowledgable and the program's primary champion and Kennedy had many reservations about it. Much of the information in this book was revealed by the release of classified and suppressed data that was not available in prior years. That, and the personal anecdotes and conversations of the astronauts and ground crew held me spellbound.
A great look back at my childhood memories. Full of facts and stories that were never told at the time. An interesting read for anyone that lived though the time of apollo and a must read for those who want to know what it was like.
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