We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
Failure Is Not an Option Audiobook

Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond

Regular Price:$38.49
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

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

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (1715 )
5 star
 (1150)
4 star
 (450)
3 star
 (89)
2 star
 (21)
1 star
 (5)
Overall
4.6 (1585 )
5 star
 (1137)
4 star
 (342)
3 star
 (84)
2 star
 (16)
1 star
 (6)
Story
4.5 (1586 )
5 star
 (994)
4 star
 (459)
3 star
 (107)
2 star
 (18)
1 star
 (8)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Amazon Customer New York 09-25-16
    Amazon Customer New York 09-25-16 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Great Story written by an Outstanding Man"
    What did you like best about this story?

    I was fascinated by the story of the missions, but Kranz's "voice" as an author carried this out of the ballpark. He's inspiring in his lack of ego, his obvious respect for his team, and his respect for the missions. I love hearing about this time of great triumph told by a man who doesn't revel in himself, but in what we as a people were able to do.

    I highly recommend this. I didn't find it dry, in the least. A basic knowledge of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions will make this more exciting, as you will already have the astronauts' stories-- the story of the huge team behind them becomes even more important.

    Kranz as a person is the greatest part of this for me. I found it to be a kind of "self help" book in that he models so many qualities that we might strive to have, but it's not boring like self-help books, nor is it egotistical. (I think of those self-congratulatory tomes and TED talks in which people tell me all about how great they are in the guise of telling me how to be a better person.)

    For Kranz, we are in it for each other, for our nation -- for the mission -- not for ourselves. We admit to our mistakes, and we work to do better constantly. Failure is not an option in that context.

    Great story! Great book! Great author!

    Darned exciting stuff, too! It inspires.

    The Audible narration is right on the money, too.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lorandun 11-19-17
    Lorandun 11-19-17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Sit back and hear the tale of hard fought success."

    Excellent account of the less heard side of the space program. The men of Mission Control were critical to the success of the space program yet, less is heard of them than the astronauts. This is a detailed and enjoyable account of the trials MC went through.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hillel Glazer Owings Mills, MD USA 11-10-17
    Hillel Glazer Owings Mills, MD USA 11-10-17 Member Since 2017
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Technologist's & Ops Nerd's Cerebral Candy Store"

    OK it's incredibly long. But no detail is superfluous. Newfound respect for the incredible accomplishments.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kari 10-23-17
    Kari 10-23-17 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    19
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great period, dry delivery"

    Flows a bit like a resume. Wish there was a bit more drama and less self aggrandizement.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lucas 10-03-17
    Lucas 10-03-17 Member Since 2017
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Outstanding work by Gene Kranz. Super read!"

    Read this after "A Man on the Moon" by Andrew Chaikin. This one by Gene Kranz is the perfect complement: It shows the other side of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions. It definitely made me rethink and admire Mission Control beyond what I thought possible. Movies and books all too often picture the astronauts as sole heroes of the space age. This excellent book is a testament to the Heroes on the ground that made it all happen and the (not so) Invisible hand that took care of every mishap along the way.

    A book about team work, learning and accomplishing impossible features!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Czaicki 09-28-17
    M. Czaicki 09-28-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    32
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic"

    Great story covering the entire beginning and golden years of the space program. I loved the insight and the personal stories of perseverance and heroism that was needed in order to put get man into space and eventually on the moon.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    anonymous123 09-28-17 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fabulous!"

    An old space program nerd's dream come true! A fascinating, very human tribute to early space flight.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas G. Nicolaides New Orleans, LA USA 09-23-17
    Thomas G. Nicolaides New Orleans, LA USA 09-23-17 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "excellent inside story of American space operation"

    I related reading this book because I feared it was akin to the Apollo 13 movie. I wanted the real story of that and all the early space program. and Kranz delivered. as a 30 year veteran if NASA, I can say that the book as accurate and detailed. it was also lively and well written.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Casavecchia 09-18-17 Member Since 2017
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Awesome and inspiring story."

    An awesome and inspiring story that will invigorate anyone interested in science technology or the human desire to explore.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Ritt Chicago, IL 09-14-17
    J. Ritt Chicago, IL 09-14-17 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    19
    11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "All that you ever wanted to know of the space race"
    Would you listen to Failure Is Not an Option again? Why?

    I have listened to it again several times. There's so much detail there that I learn something new every time I listen to it.
    M


    What did you like best about this story?

    I love how real Kranz keeps it. He's not trying to pretty it up. He discusses their failures as honestly as their successes.


    Which character – as performed by Danny Campbell – was your favorite?

    Not really applicable here.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The description of the Fire, and his discussion of his disappointment in the fact that we've gone from going to the Moon to being stuck in LEO. (And now we can't even get there without outside help!)


    Any additional comments?

    If you want to really know NASA's history and how we went from the 4" flight to the Moon in under a decade. It's absolutely fascinating!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • WeTravel2U
    3/31/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "fantastic insight to flight control"

    read the book, now finished the audio, and i would love to sitt down and have a general chat with him. wonderful storytelling of a bygone era.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nobbby
    3/15/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Nice Suprise!"

    I didn't know what to expect from this book. Would it be facts and figures and little else? Would it be a flag waving exercise to make Nasa look good?

    As it turned out it was both of these things, but intertwined with the authors life, and a little humour. It really did work and turned out to be a great listen that has pulled me back to relisten multiple times.
    Kranz managed to tell the already well told story of Mercury, Gemini & Apollo but from the tech guys point of view, stuck on the Earth looking at screens of data. In a lot of ways this was more compelling than the Astronauts PoV.
    Apollo XI & XIII usually take up the majority of any book like this, but Kranz gave them no more time than any of the other long duration flights.


    Ignore this review if you want, but understand this...

    It's a great book that is well read and worth the money/credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • BEHNAZ
    2/15/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "fun to read"

    It was fun to read, but maybe short for all the details. and it is a rocket science

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • M
    12/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "see the world like an engineer "

    This is a fascinating account of the US space program, from the point of view of the mission controllers. Astronauts appear as characters in a strictly maintained chronology of events, but it is the young men in airless control rooms, chain-smoking their way to success after success that are the main focus of the piece. Gene Kranz shares a lot about his own life as a sort of running side-note, and this reader was left a little in awe of the energy, dedication and detailed thought that characterised Gene Kranz and his contemporaries.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Guy B
    11/23/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "amazing"

    though and competent. a mantra from a great man. great book and great audio book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • E. A. Williams
    England
    6/28/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A hero of a man experiencing incredible NASA times"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely. This is not only the insights into the life of an incredible man, but he takes us behind closed doors into the most exciting and pivotal moments in NASA and mankind's history in space.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Gene Kranz - he is my hero, because of the respectful manner in which he deals with people, the incredible leadership skills he has in enabling teams to work in pressured situations that none of us are likely to ever experience again, without any fear/blame - in fact, to quite the contrary: relieving them of fear/pressure and enabling them to perform to the best of their abilities. I've learnt a lot previously about how Gene manages people and have applied that to my own teams - as a result, I always create high performing, motivated teams. He is my life-hero.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    I love how he speaks to his teams and the pride he has with them - the book describes the pride with which he puts on the White Flight waistcoats his wife made for him for each mission, and how they became the badge of honour for his teams and the signal that things were about to begin. I love the way he describes the support for Apollo 13, his calmness and supportive approach of asking people to be careful and 'let's not make it any worse by guessing'. His descriptions of the loss of the space shuttles and the impact that had on those in Mission Control is amazing. I just love this book.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Absolutely. And will listen to over and over again.


    Any additional comments?

    Please get it back into the availability Library so others can read it. It is a work of historical importance, documenting times that have gone and will never return. What people in NASA did during this time period was absolutely amazing (putting people on another planet with less computing power than is now in a mobile phone). Mankind will never, ever do this again in this way - it is an incredibly important historical document, and gives an insight into the life of an amazing, incredible man who was part of those amazing times that have now gone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • james kirkup
    6/14/16
    Overall
    "inspiring"

    great listening. easily understandable to the non astronaut! worth a re listen. "we are GO!"

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Chris Tech
    3/18/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very good listen"

    The book is a great timeline of the history of NASA and the forgotten controllers who made it all happen.

    Gripping, especially during the Apollo 1,11 & 13 chapters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • "stewartopian"
    1/15/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Too much detail?"

    An interesting perspective on America's early space programme, but presented with too much detail for those with a casual interest. Perhaps one for those with a more specific interest in Mission Control!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Michael
    2/19/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Team builder and leader"
    Would you listen to Failure Is Not an Option again? Why?

    It's about cutting edge leadership, under tough conditions. Today leadership is so badly understood. Usually companies employ matcho men who have little substance and little ability. Zranz shows leadership at it's best. We all remember the 3 who got to the moon. We should also remember the team on the ground, who sustained the 3.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.