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 was 31 when Apollo 11 launched. Listening to this remarkable work and all the detail is like being there again. Wonderfully writtern and very well read, made me chuckle several times just knowing what was between the lines and having heard many interviews with the astronauts and other personnel at Johnson.
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.
Very enjoyable book. The beginning is a little odd as it is a series of individual remeberences and has no flow to it, but once you get past that first chapter and start the history from the beginning, I think it is really good. It is full of details that I had not heard before. this is not really a history of apollo, but of apollo 11, so it ends at the moonlanding and the history is only about things that contributed directly to apollo 11. Overall I give it 4 stars. Narration really good and really interesting, but not as gripping as some books i have read.
I was an avid follower of the the Apollo program in it's day, even though I was very young, and even today if the networks aired coverage of space launches in more detail, I'd be watching them. I've watched "From the Earth to the Moon" countless times, and I pretty much know the script to the movie Apollo 13. I've listened to Neil Armstrong's memoir (as an audiobook) and Wally Schira's - among others. So, while skeptical that this would offer anything new, I still bought it. In many ways, it does recount many of the same stories - it would be impossible not to; but there is always an opportunity for fresh material and a fresh perspective. I'm not a nitpicker when it comes to details, and the minutiae of technology tend to bore me - so, while others could possibly find errors that might annoy them (I'm not saying there are any), I enjoyed the fact that this is one more popular telling of the of the Apollo program. If you enjoy hearing stories of the space program, even if you've heard them many times, then you should enjoy this. The narration is very well done, and there was fresh material and interesting perspectives to keep me engaged.
WWII history buff
The best narrative of the Apollo missions I ever heard or read. Spell-binding even though you know how it turns out.
This book puts "human flesh" on how we reached the moon. I found the book enjoyable, informative and rich in details. For me, it answered why we haven't gone further with our space program than we have. The book is a collection of biographies of many people.
Interestingly, the best parts of this book were not about Apollo 11. The chapter on von Braun was outstanding. The chapter on the Soviets was so good, it came across as far too short. But the final chapter, what would otherwise be an overly-long post script, was one of the best and most inspiring pieces I have ever read (or listened to). If you find yourself bored, then you just don't "get it, and the final chapter explains that point well. Nelson's observations about how NASA set itself up for post-Apollo malaise by not putting the moon landings into the context of a larger plan were dead on. McGonagle was a perfect choice as narrator. His authoritative style fit perfectly with the story line. My only complaint was Nelson's repeated assertion that the X-15 was "towed" into the air. This glaring factual error caused me, at points, to doubt everything else in the story.
This is one of the best accounts of the moon landingn of Apollo 11 I have every experienced. You will marvel at the size of the task and the committment of hundreds of thousands of people. You will experience the pressure of developing this program within a 10 year time period. You will feel the danger of the launch, and the stress and elation of lunar landing. You will cheer when they are able to launch off the moon to return to moon orbit.
It provides lots of very interesting stories about the space program that I had never heard before. It also gives a good picture of the type of men Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were. The author is able to include technical details that embellish the story without bogging it down with technobabble. The first part of the book covers from Sputnik to Apollo 10 and the second part is pretty much about Apollo 11. The stories of how the russians used Sputnik for political gain and how Kennedy responded lay the foreground for goal of landing a man on the moon and safely returning them to earth. The story of what happens to these astronauts after they return to earth is also interesting and moving. If you are at all interested in the space program - this book is a must read.
I really enjoy listening to books and I am a space nerd, this book is my favorite thus far. The narrator is perfect for the subject matter. I enjoyed the parts about the actual missions as I knew I would, but the discussion of NASA in decades following the moon landings and what happened to the astronauts was also powerful and stirring.
He does a great job, his voice is powerful and smooth. Very easy to listen to and understand
so many points of this book I paused, visualized, went back, and listened again to get a scope of it. Apollo is such a massive undertaking, so many things went into making this program work. I really enjoyed the stats and numbers given. An example, the 7.5million lbs of thrust, so hard to picture... but discussing the pumps that put 2.4 million lbs of water into the pool beneath the rocket at lift off to calm the explosive force... that buts perspective on it!
Listen to this book - fall in love with space exploration - help get our civilization out in the solar system exploring!
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