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Publisher's Summary

Forty years ago, Buzz Aldrin became the second human, minutes after Neil Armstrong, to set foot on a celestial body other than the Earth. The event remains one of mankind's greatest achievements and was witnessed by the largest worldwide television audience in history. In the years since, millions more have had their Earth-centric perspective unalterably changed by the iconic photograph of Aldrin standing on the surface of the moon, the blackness of space behind him and his fellow explorer and the Eagle reflected in his visor. Describing the alien world he was walking upon, he uttered the words "magnificent desolation." And as the astronauts later sat in the Eagle, waiting to begin their journey back home, knowing that they were doomed unless every system and part on board worked flawlessly, it was Aldrin who responded to Mission Control's clearance to take off with the quip, "Roger. Understand. We're number one on the runway."

The flight of Apollo 11 made Aldrin one of the most famous persons on our planet, yet few people know the rest of this true American hero's story. In Magnificent Desolation, Aldrin not only gives us a harrowing first-person account of the lunar landing that came within seconds of failure and the ultimate insider's view of life as one of the superstars of America's space program, he also opens up with remarkable candor about his more personal trials - and eventual triumphs - back on Earth.

©2009 Buzz Aldrin; (P)2009 Random House

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  • Overall

Great Read

Satisfingly technical to keep a geek like me happy... but with a lot of reflection of his entire life so far as well.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Magnificent even though long

The book is long and once I had reached the late 1970's portion of this book I wondered what the rest of the book would be about. But I am VERY glad I read on into the 80's, 90's and 2000's. Buzz is a complex man and has inspired people of multiple generations with his active and long life and his courage. Now he can add one more person he has inspired.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Too Much

The social churn Aldrin chose to stay in was too much for a the type of person
he is, and caused him tons of grief.
Neil Armstrong was smarter, he just unplugged and went back to rural routes.
It happens all the time, where sudden fame makes hell for somebody; just trying
to remain a fantastic enlargement of themselves.
Anyway, too much head stuff and not enough Space for me, so I didnt bother
downloading the second half.
Aldrin was ahead of his time, having the courage to admit to his problems

The story lacked a space theme I was looking for, here is a guy who spent one
of the longest EVA's in the Gemini program.
It is always puzzling the reticence of the astronauts about an out of this world experience.
The technical part of the moon landing bought forth a fact I never knew-
that by surreptitiously leaving on the Ascent radar, he was the direct cause
of the alarms that came close to aborting the landing.
I wonder what Armstrong said afterwards !

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 07-28-09

An AA Memoir

Four decades ago we "older guys" saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon. It was one of the most exciting days of our lives and will never be fogotten. The first 20% of Magnificent Desolation tells that story and what a story it is. The middle of the book tells of Aldrin's battle with depression and alcohol. The last pages relate his ideas about the future of NASA and space flight.

This book is not worthy of a man with a PhD from MIT and the military rank he attained. There were no new insights in the voyage to the moon. The story about his depression and alcohol addiction came off as self serving and the sections on how NASA might enhance the space program read like sour grapes. The ability and thoughtfulness of this great American should have shown much brighter. He deserves a better legacy.

Otherwise,for readers who just want to "get to know" this great man, his candor and honesty alone will reward them. It isn't a bad book, it just could have been far more instructive and insightful.

The reading is very good.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


This book must be really well written, and is well read, given that it was gripping in parts, and overall enjoyable. Why only 2 stars?
Start with the fact that the first part of the book is great...then you find out that has already been the subject of another book. That has to do with the trip to the moon and his difficulties with depression afterwards.
The middle is long. There is a20-30 minute section on his wife's past. What does that have to do with anything? Do we reallyneed to hear about all the moon references in his engagement and wedding? The man clearly is so full of himself and his trip to the moon, in some respects it is no wonder he had trouble when he got back.
The end is one long rambling dialogue about his vision for space travel. Again, 10-15 minute rehash of his testimony to congress. If i want that, i can probably go into the congressional record and read it myself.
Overall, Buzz comes off as a man who (in his own words) is all about Buzz. Everything is I this and I that. The man made a huge killing off the fact that he happened to be in the right place at the right time. I am a space nut and love all things about Apollo etc, but these guys did not change history based on their actions or decisions like a Roosevelt, Churchhill, or Eisenhower. They were pilots who go to go on the ride of a lifetime. It's no wonder his fellow astraunauts were criticial of him for using his fame.
This isnot as bad as it sounds, as I actually enjoyed the book and found parts gripping, but by the end, i just felt like saying, get a grip buzz, there are more important things then hotels in space.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Long-winded and Laborious

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I thought it would never end.

What could Buzz Aldrin and Ken Abraham have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Shorten it by about half. Keep the first half intact and relegate the latter half to another book under another title.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Patrick Egan?

I wouldn't change narrators.

Did Magnificent Desolation inspire you to do anything?

Yes. I think I'll try to learn Braille.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

good view to a man life

Interesting view on the life of a great man who achieved success too early in his life. then he struggled to stay a float. to much talk about his third wife. now that they are divided he can not edit his book.

  • Overall
  • Juan C
  • Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MexiMexico
  • 01-25-10

10% Ok, 90% boring

Neil and Buzz were a truly american heroes for my, but after reading these book I have a complete different opinion about Buzz.
The first part is really a good book. Then he talks and talks and talks about his recovering live and half of the book he talk us about the life off his 3rth wife. What for? I don't know why.
I better read First Man to see the great difference betwen Buzz and Neil life.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Richard
  • 12-07-10

Not much about space or the moon landing.

Mainly about Buzz Aldrin's struggle with drink and depression. Not that interesting and made worse by the appalling mono tone expressionless voice of the narrator. A few interesting facts appear within the story addressing NASA politics and what was really going on in the background but I would struggle to recommend it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Paul
  • 10-08-10

don't bother

i love space flight and nasa - but this title is seriously dull.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful