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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

Overall

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  • Overall

There's always more to learn

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jeff
  • Pickering, Ontario, Canada
  • 05-24-12

TRULY OUTSTANDING

There are many books on the space program but this one captures the heart and soul and takes you there!

I get a peculiar reaction to really great outstanding books, I pace back and forth. my enthusiasm, and wonder overflows my inner cup and I'm simply yet ecstatically overwhelmed. needless to say this listen fits into that coveted category.

What an amazingly unique challenge this was for mankind! What an adventure the whole planet held its breath for. All of those enormous probably catastrophic risks laid out on live tv. For many it was before their time, for others its grandeur forgotten, and for everyone, the behind the scenes opera never known till now

So this book is very special because it succeeds in translating all that forgotten glory that was in the public eye and more importantly most of which was kept secret .

It is SO well researched and written ,providing a more than complete history that reads like a thriller. Whether your interested in the space program or not you will find this an amazing experience.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Joseph
  • Ocean Shores, WA, United States
  • 07-17-09

DeJavous

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.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

4+

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Outstanding

The best narrative of the Apollo missions I ever heard or read. Spell-binding even though you know how it turns out.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • BH FL
  • Deerfield Beach, FL
  • 07-30-09

Very information and well told

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • John
  • Madison, WI, United States
  • 07-09-12

Thrilling book. I got goosebumps listening

Where does Rocket Men rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

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.

What about Richard McGonagle’s performance did you like?

He does a great job, his voice is powerful and smooth. Very easy to listen to and understand

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

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!

Any additional comments?

Listen to this book - fall in love with space exploration - help get our civilization out in the solar system exploring!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The final chapter made the whole book.

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rick
  • BUCKEYE, ARIZONA, US
  • 02-12-10

VERY GOOD

Theres alot of information about NASA and the the space race in this book that in my opinion is very well done

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Must for Space Cadets

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful