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 have read other Apollo/NASA books but this one stands on its own. Really enjoyed the discussion of the "space race" and the engineering feats it took to take the US to the Moon first. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in what it took to get to the Moon.
You know the story, but the people behind it are the crux of this book. It might be overly technical, but I found it particularly enjoyable since I missed the event on television due to a pesky little war going on at the time.
Near beginning the author says Gene Cernan was on Apollo 14. He was not on 14 but 17. Not much further in, he says the command and lunar modules cost around $100,000 apiece. Simple misprint or mispeak that can be forgiven? I don't think so after he elaborates that this was 10 times cost of Spirit of St. Louis. The lunar module was built under a $2 billion contract for just 12 units.
I am disappointed to discover the author was lazy or an idiot or both.
I have no problems with the narration by Richard McGonagle. Good manly voice for a manly adventurous subject.
Perhaps my interest can be traced to my boyhood, where a launch could stop school. We'd assemble in the library and watch the launch on a color TV set, when seeing TV in color was still exciting. The narrative does meander a bit which can be confusing at times, as stories are introduced out of sequence. The are a number of places in the narrative where the author appears to have made some glaring factual errors. A google search can find you reviews which list a number of them. Those errors did impact my overall impression of the book. Once you get far enough in the book, the narrative begins to smooth out and take fewer jags and so the sequence is much more smooth. I appreciate his descriptions of Aldrin and Armstrong. I'm not sure what he adds to the existing literature. It's an enjoyable book, it just may not be all the reliable.
It's amazing what man can do when they set their minds to it. This really shows how the first astronauts were just regular people with the spirit of adventure. I was amazed to learn how the Government ruined the lives of Neil and Buzz after they achieved such an amazing feet. From a technological stand point, It is truly incredible what NASA did with less technology than what we have in our smart phones. This book also kind of made me realize just how political the space race was and it helped to explain why we haven't been back to the Moon in over 40 years. I for one think we should be setting up a permanent station on the moon before we focus on Mars. I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys Historical books and for people that like books about overcoming incredible odds to achieve greatness.
Sat in my car more than a few nights after I pulled up to the driveway just so I could finish the chapter.
Fascinated by WW2 Military History
This book provides a fairly good account of the Apollo 11 moon landing with fairly good main character development (Aldrin, Collins and Armstrong).
I'd say that it can be a bit dry at times and you may find yourself a little bored during some sections, the last few chapters are quite good. If you haven't read Gene Kranz's "Failure Is Not An Option" I would encourage you to begin there as it's a much better telling of the entire NASA program from Mercury to Skylab and into today. I highly recommend it.
Overall, I'd say it's worth a credit.
If you're a space nut this is the book for you. However, even for a space nut like me I only gave it 4 stars. The main reason is the many annoying inaccuracies - like constantly calling the moon a planet! Even with these problems the book does provide a lot of detail about the race to the moon. Probably too much detail for somebody with just a passing interest.
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