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Publisher's Summary

On February 1, 2003, Columbia disintegrated on reentry before the nation's eyes, and all seven astronauts aboard were lost. Author Mike Leinbach, Launch Director of the space shuttle program at NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center, was a key leader in the search and recovery effort as NASA, FEMA, the FBI, the US Forest Service, and dozens more federal, state, and local agencies combed an area of rural east Texas the size of Rhode Island for every piece of the shuttle and her crew they could find. 

Assisted by hundreds of volunteers, it would become the largest ground search operation in US history. For the first time, here is the definitive inside story of the Columbia disaster and recovery and the inspiring message it ultimately holds. In the aftermath of tragedy, people and communities came together to help bring home the remains of the crew and nearly 40 percent of shuttle, an effort that was instrumental in piecing together what happened so the shuttle program could return to flight and complete the International Space Station. Bringing Columbia Home shares the deeply personal stories that emerged as NASA employees looked for lost colleagues, and searchers overcame immense physical, logistical, and emotional challenges and worked together to accomplish the impossible.

©2018 Michael D. Leinbach and Jonathan H. Ward (P)2018 Tantor

Critic Reviews

“A gripping account of a fatal tragedy and the impressive and deeply emotional human response that ensued.” (Kirkus)

What listeners say about Bringing Columbia Home

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Consider What You’re Looking For

This book is primarily an account of the recovery of Columbia’s debris and how the tragedy impacted those involved. Considering the topic, I found the writing to be relentlessly upbeat to an extent that was almost strange. If you’re looking for a sophisticated technical analysis of the accident or a critical/objective examination of the culture at NASA, this book will disappoint. It’s an account that seems to skate over some of the thornier questions about what happened and in which no one ever does anything wrong or gets too angry. It focuses instead on acts of human decency and the nobility of the space program, which is fine, but perhaps not rigorously analytical.

8 people found this helpful

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In Grief, In Goodwill, With The Utmost Respect

I got involved in animal rescue in the areas of the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and did a stint in New Orleans for a bit. And I can attest to what this book says loud and clear: Nothing, nothing feels so good during a bad time as a community coming together around you, that soft place to land.
Bringing Columbia Home is the story of how many, many agencies, thousands of private citizens joined with NASA personnel and others to do the unthinkable: reverentially recover remains, respectfully gather remnants. Entire communities joined in doing what they could, whether it was as grid searchers or it was serving sweet tea to the weary. Or offering a well-timed hug when a grieving astronaut just couldn't stand one more minute.
The biggest flaw of the book is Danny Campbell's narration--he's not bad, but he has the tones of a radio newsman. A lot of the power is lost when he conveys what is very emotional. But that's not too great a flaw in a pretty good book.
I liked how people came together, how elected officials responded with sensitivity, how the families were treated with the utmost care.
Truly, a sensitive look at what was a pretty bad time.

7 people found this helpful

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Beautifully told...

The story of Columbia and her family beautifully told. I was very moved by every facet of the story.

1 person found this helpful

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A Great Experiemce

I lived in Dallas when this happened and I saw it streak past in the sky. It was difficult to follow the story originally, but this was breathtaking.

After all Texas did for Columbia, and JSC didn't get a shuttle when the program was ended... it's a sad shame. Houston worked hard for every mission and Texas bled and died for NASA during Columbia search/ investigation and we got nothing. This book made me even more angry about that.

1 person found this helpful

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Narrator’s mispronunciations annoying

Narrator mispronounces names, places and tech terms. Doesn’t anybody listen to the narration before it is released? I’ve found this to be the case on virtually every fact-based audiobook

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Tragic and Beautiful Story

Well written and narrated, combining both technical and human details. Loved this book on so many levels.

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A heartfelt telling of the Columbia accident and recovery

I really liked this book. I wasn’t sure what to expect. This book covers the accident and investigation into the loss of Columbia. However the majority of the book is about the people involved in recovering the remains of Columbia and her crew. It’s about the dedication of these people to find out what happened to the orbiter and her crew. I learned a lot from the book about the recovery effort and the fact Columbia to this day continues in her science mission. She was never buried like Challenger.

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Columbia

I may listen to this story several times. About the crash of space shuttle Columbia.

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Good to Know

I enjoyed the detailed description of the Columbia’s tragic end. I learned what took place in the search for evidence. As a simple outline of the experience there was no building of expectations or mystery and the reading was bland. It is really not accurate to judge the book as a story. It was a recounting of events. I enjoyed it and learned what I hoped to learn.

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  • 01-20-21

Narration

Narrator sounded really tired... Added much sadness to an already sad story. Good book otherwise.