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Publisher's Summary

A richly detailed and dramatic account of one of the greatest achievements of humankind.

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • John
  • Chamblee, GA, United States
  • 08-27-17

Good Book About Apollo

This is a good book for anyone interested in the Apollo program. It does cover a lot of ground that has probably been covered more elegantly (A Man on the Moon, by Andrew Chaikin) or with more first hand information (Failure Is Not an Option, by Gene Kranz). Still, it is a very good account.

Be aware that the book focuses on Apollo 8 and Apollo 11. Other missions are not really covered. The descriptions of the flight crews of both missions are quite compelling.

One thing the book covers very well is the aftermath of Apollo 11, including the quarantine, Congressional appearance, and appearances world wide. The book does not gloss over the burden imposed on the crew.

Well researched. The narration is sound.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing behind the scene details!

As a child I watched Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo with keen interest. This book filled in so much detail and connected the scientific, political, and social aspects. Very well written and performed. Only slight issue is the same deep voice quoting many different people, even women is a little weird :) Loved this book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Reliving the space race

As a boy I grew up closer to the space race than most for my father worked in the aerospace industry and particularly in the Saturn/Apollo and Shuttle program's. Every launch day was a partial holiday with my not having to go to school until the launch was completed. My dad was our news source with literature, patches, updates on the progress of Saturn's second stage or the command module, depending on which he was working on. So in listening to Rocket Men my mind was flooded with memories and knowledge enhanced learning what I didn't know.
Rocket Men is more than a history of Apollo 11 and the landing in the moon but is a revealing guide to the American Spirit to explore the unknown and seek adventure that has made our country great. It is a worthwhile read for this reason for the space program was more than a science project, it is an inspirational story of men who did what had never been done and see what had never been known.
The author wonderfully details this history without being mundane or exhaustively technical. When you are done you will want to live the excitement and awe of those days once again.

Enjoy
Bob

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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An exceptionally snappy history of NASA!

What did you love best about Rocket Men?

The flow of the story, the energy, the details of first hand accounts, the new stories. I worked in Mission Control and met most of these guys. We lived and breathed NASA history, and this book I found exciting.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Rocket Men?

The beginning sets the pace.

What about Richard McGonagle’s performance did you like?

Yes, the narration has lots of energy.

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

Oh, it's long. Nice to stop and digest the new information.

Any additional comments?

Be sure to read Gene Kranz's book "Failure is not an Option." America's greatest accomplishment was Apollo 8 because of the culture change and focus of NASA after Kranz's Tough and Competent speech. Apollo 8 was an absolutely perfect mission and historical apogee for America. When man first left Earth. Wow! Damn near hit the recovery ship on landing. That accurate.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Many errors that lessened the story

The story is told in a very exciting format. There are many errors that with marginal research should've been caught. Examples of this are the wingspan of the U2 aircraft, confusing Navy SEALs, Frog man and Air Force para rescue men. Other glaring errors are that the X 15 flu 4500 hours. Like I said a great story that was mired in errors, very disappointing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good Book

What made the experience of listening to Rocket Men the most enjoyable?

The narration was excellent (which is key for audio books). Its the old story of the lunar landing but with a depth look into the characters and how everything fitted within the context of the cold war.

Have you listened to any of Richard McGonagle’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • San Jose, CA United States
  • 09-28-15

A little disjointed.

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book

Very informative with a good narrator. The story is well structured and has plenty of value to read multiple times.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A pretty decent telling of Apollo 11

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • L
  • Centennial, CO, United States
  • 10-03-11

Unforgettable Characters

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful