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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, a breathtaking elegy to the waning days of human spaceflight as we have known it.

In the 1960s humans took their first steps away from Earth - and for a time our possibilities in space seemed endless. But in a time of austerity, and in the wake of high-profile disasters like Challenger, that dream has ended. In early 2011, Margaret Lazarus Dean traveled to Cape Canaveral for NASA's last three space shuttle launches in order to bear witness to the end of an era. With Dean as our guide to Florida's Space Coast and to the history of NASA, Leaving Orbit takes the measure of what American spaceflight has achieved while reckoning with its earlier witnesses, such as Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, and Oriana Fallaci. Along the way Dean meets NASA workers, astronauts, and space fans, gathering possible answers to the question: What does it mean that a spacefaring nation won't be going to space anymore?

Cover image courtesy of NASA.

©2015 Margaret Lazarus Dean (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Story

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Disappointing for a space buff

What disappointed you about Leaving Orbit?

Boring, lengthy story of her personal experiences watching shuttle launches, mostly. Waited and waited for her to speak to her thesis of what America's temporarily leaving space really means for us, our children, and our future. She occasionally obliquely referred to this, but the narrative is bogged down with minutuae of, for example, what people were wearing at launches, even a disgusting reference to a photographer's sweaty armpits - I kid you not! In the final moments she asks the question, "what does it mean?" But instead of giving expert, insightful thoughts from knowledgeable people on this, she just leaves the question at the very end. Oops, spoiler alert :) Don't waste your time with this fluff.

Would you ever listen to anything by Margaret Lazarus Dean again?

Never

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Well, since the story is just her personal experiences, replete with way too much information and details of her personal life, I guess a lilting narration is appropriate.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment, boredom, and anger that I wasted so much time. I almost quit it about half way through but thought some insightful observations must be just "around the corner." Never came.

Any additional comments?

I am an avid space buff, collector, and grew up with the program. This treatment is a a disgrace.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A nostalgic account of space flight.

Excellent writing, although slow and depressing at times. I would recommend to fellow space fans. The voice acting is top notch.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

What a beautiful book!

This book has reinforced a flame deep within me. The dream of spaceflight! I now look forward to hearing Scott Kelley speak in a couple weeks at UTK. I give this book all of the stars, maybe we will once again strive toward reaching them as a nation.

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The author has been paid by # of words

What would have made Leaving Orbit better?

This book has a thin unimaginative story. Seems like the author has been paid by number of words. She even spends pages describing i75. I am sorry to have purchased this book. I am not sure why she wrote this book, when she doesn't have much to stay.

Would you ever listen to anything by Margaret Lazarus Dean again?

No

What does Lauren Fortgang bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Lauren Fortgang does an excellent job in putting some live in this thin story.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

No

Any additional comments?

Worse book, i read/listened to in 2015

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Very insightful great read.

Great book a weaving of the end of the U.S. Space program and her direct experience in watching it happen. Great writer, unexpectedly enjoyed her "non space" related refections drive to the space coast, the observing the observers at the launches etc. I do find it very sad, as she did, that we "the U.S. " do not have the ability to put a person in space downright disgraceful.

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Great perspective

Funny, original, personal. I lean more commercial space, but my heart has a place for NASA and the shuttle program. Really enjoyed this one!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful