Rocket Men

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Rocket Men

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If you're reaching for the easiest phrase in the phrasebook, that's This was definitely not the former. Every line of this book felt uniform in tone and pattern.

This do How is it even possible to make a book about space that I don't love? This doesn't ever happen in real life, and I always notice when I'm fifty or a hundred pages into a book and can't even remember which character said which line in a dialogue because they all sound identical and have done so throughout.

This is ostensibly a book documenting actual things which happened. In space. And yet I was about a quarter of the way in before I found the first evidence of research quotation marks, block quotes, footnotes, asterisks, end-note citations, lines like "in early interviews, [x] was prone to saying [y]".

And there were only a handful of moments throughout this book's hundreds of collective pages when Kurson made reference to documentation.

I literally had no clue that this book was based on interviews until I read the author's note at the very end of the book. I received an early copy, so there were no appendices or indices or end matter other than that note It won't ever be enough to salvage the book from its lack of internal cues throughout.

And it bothers me that Kurson adopted a journalist's supposedly objective "reporting" voice for conveying the internal feelings of people who have long since died and never recorded their feelings about these events in public.

And just like the dialogue, these italicized internal thoughts felt uniform. They felt like Kurson's voice. It felt like a lie every time.

And I really think there probably is something fascinating about her, but her development of Alzheimer's means that she was not able to contribute her own thoughts and feelings to this book.

Which means that every line and thought attributed to her struck me as As projections of Kurson's own thoughts and feelings. I honestly can't remember a single evocative image from this book.

It consists of hundreds of pages of Kurson telling his readers that things happened If you're not going to saturate your book with research or are going to base it entirely upon personal interviews conveyed anecdotally and without confirmation and you're not going to try and impress upon your readers the experience of the moment, what's left?

You're not a McCullough or a Wolfe, obviously. If I'd had a hand in editing this book, I would have recommended trimming the summarizing waaaaay back and finding a compelling through-line.

This book has no narrative heart. I read sections of this book aloud to my roomies while at a graduate course intensive.

View 2 comments. Jan 24, Dave rated it it was amazing Shelves: netgalley-books , read-have. Kurson's incredible book "Rocket Men" tells one of the greatest stories of adventure in the modern age, a story that captivated not just the nation, but the entire world.

It's the story of the race to the moon. If you loved The Right Stuff and Apollo 13, you'll love this book.

After the Soviets launched Sputnik, the space race had begun and, although John Kennedy set getting to the moon within ten years as a goal, it almost didn't happen.

Growing up, we all knew the names of the three astronauts Kurson's incredible book "Rocket Men" tells one of the greatest stories of adventure in the modern age, a story that captivated not just the nation, but the entire world.

Growing up, we all knew the names of the three astronauts who actually landed on the moon, but the story of Apollo 8, the rocket that first made it to the moon is a far more incredible story, particularly given how quickly the launch came together without the usual testing.

Kurson takes on a journey with Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, to the moon and back, step by breathtaking step. You can feel the world's emotions as the countdown commences, as each rocket stage breaks off, as the astronauts disappear in the dark side of the moon, and as they re-enter the earth's atmosphere and splash into the Pacific.

It's also set appropriately in historical perspective with the Cold War space race, the war in Vietnam, the riots in the cities, and in as Dr King and Robert Kennedy were brutally cut down, taking with them so much of the hopes and dreams of the nation.

It took a Christmas miracle in the form of Apollo 8 to give the country hope and optimism again. Kurson also gives us the background history of each of these astronauts, where they grew up, how they met their wives, how they dreamed of being test pilots and eventually chosen to be the second group of astronauts, following the Gemini program.

It's amazing that this journey to the moon could be done with the simple technology of the day and the computers they had then.

Yet, the scientist' calculations were spot on. This book is do well-written and do fascinating that it was a joy to read. Thank you to Random House for providing a copy for review.

Shelves: , audio , read-in , nonfiction , hear-hear-on-bt. I remember well for its many tragedies and a pervasive gloominess about the country's future outlook.

What I don't remember is how the year ended with the first manned trip to the moon on Apollo 8, set to launch Christmas day.

One man even told NASA they dare not launch on Christmas, because it was sure to fail, kill everyone, and ruin the holiday for the entire country from that day forward.

But the flight succeeded. Succeeded in ways one couldn't imagine at t - A blast from the past. Succeeded in ways one couldn't imagine at the time, and for which credit is seldom given.

It gave the country a blast of just what it needed at that time -- Spirit? Unity, I think. Another thing I cannot remember are the names of which astronauts went with which Apollo mission.

I am horrible with names. And numbers. Apollo 11 and 13 stand out but only because they are in the news so often.

A thankfully brief history was given, and then on to the exciting stuff, off to orbit the moon and witness the dark side. Some male acquaintances will find the descriptions of getting sick in a spaceship --where vomit and diarrhea become floating projectiles -- quite amusing.

Well, so did I! And I enjoyed the suspense each time the spaceship came to a new phase in its journey, always with a question about whether it would function as designed, or fail.

And the human faces put on the three astronauts as they made mistakes and at times struggled with their choices that put family second to career.

Narrator Ray Porter has a very nice voice and was able to make his reading sound conversational and to keep me interested even in the science parts.

In the lighter moments, I could have sworn I was listening to a snarky Tom Hanks, which is the highest of compliments!

This is an amazing book. I believe that the Apollo 11 story has really overshadowed this story. The author does a wonderful job of introducing us to the men who oversaw and flew this mission.

He also really put the mission into perspective for the country. This is a great audiobook. Aug 20, Scott rated it it was amazing. Whether it was the surprise Tet Offensive, the capture of the USS Pueblo, the riots in the streets of Chicago during the DNC, or the double-tragedy of the Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations, many headline news stories were often casting a fairly bleak view for the country.

But in the final weeks there was a story that, if only for a few brief moments, raised the spirits for some of the nation during the holiday season.

Kurso - America was not having a particularly good year. The goal, as put forth by JFK in his brief presidency, was to land Americans on the moon before I think this was one of the better straightforward 20th century history books I've read in awhile.

Feb 09, Jeff rated it it was amazing Shelves: yearread , science , non-fiction. Apollo 8 was the first time human beings traveled beyond Earth orbit and through deep space to another world - three astronauts traveled to the moon and made ten orbits before returning to the Earth.

Rocket Men is a fantastic recounting of this mission and the stories of the three astronauts that pulled it off: Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders.

And you will understand why when you read the book. The US was lagging behind the Russians in all aspects of the space race - the Russians had put the first human in space, performed the first spacewalk, and had their eyes firmly set on the moon.

Meanwhile, NASA was having issues with their massive and complicated space vehicle, the Saturn V, which was designed to carry the first astronauts to the moon.

With intelligence coming back of an impending Russian mission to send cosmonauts to a lunar orbit, NASA gambled and decided to push Apollo 8 forward, despite the fact that engines malfunctioned during the unmanned Apollo 6 test flight.

There was a lot of hand wringing at NASA as the apex of the Apollo 8 mission would take place over Christmas and if something went wrong at the moon or before and the astronauts did not return, many would look at the moon differently and would remember Christmas with a heavy heart from that year forward.

Rocket Men contains a lot of biographical information about the three astronauts before and after Apollo 8, not just what they went through during the mission.

The reader also gets to know their wives, which I though was pretty neat, because they went through so much while their husbands trained and flew their missions.

I remember watching as much as I could of the subsequent missions, though. The Saturn V is an amazing sight, and still the most powerful machine ever made.

I am nuts about all things space. But there is so much more to this book than just a space mission. Take time to read the Sources section at the end of the book.

He also spend days with then NASA Flight Director Chris Kraft, interviewed anyone connected with Apollo 8 still alive to get the full story, and pored over many once-secret declassified documents.

The detail in the book is a testament to the amount of research carried out. Apollo 8 is truly a great story of boldly venturing in to the unknown along the lines of other monumental quests like climbing Everest, sailing across the Atlantic for the first time, or traveling to the poles for the first time.

View all 5 comments. Nov 17, Jason rated it it was amazing. Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 is a very compelling narrative history of the first and very risky journey of man leaving earth to orbit the moon.

Kurson, like in his previous work, Shadow Divers, delves deeply into the context of a singular event, and makes the unique fit into the larger history.

While appropriate attention is devoted to their three families back in Houston, events in Missio Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 is a very compelling narrative history of the first and very risky journey of man leaving earth to orbit the moon.

While appropriate attention is devoted to their three families back in Houston, events in Mission Control and a couple chapters to set the historical scene of the tumultuous in the United States, most of the text of this book takes place within the 11 x 13 sq foot space of the Apollo 8 command module.

Even within that confined capsule, that traveled a quarter million miles, and with an outcome that is well known, the intensity of the flight, it's risky and aggressiveness and world historical importance are told with full impact.

The admiration the author has for the crew is clear. The respect he has for their families and ground control teams comes through well enough. He does perhaps hit on a bit too often the risks involved with the engines, and the lunar orbit insertion and extraction burns.

That said, the he has written in a way that the reader can be the fourth member of the crew, understanding why events and decisions happened the way they did.

Kurson draws on great secondary sources, but the strength of this book is his access and extensive interviews of the three crew members and their families.

Due to their age, this book may be the last time their full story can be told this way and so well. Each of the three astronauts, who later achieved success in the corporate world, goes to great lengths to show the love and connection they had and still have with their families and especially their spouses.

As a the fifty year anniversary of this mission is approaching, reliving the important events of Apollo 8 for a new generation is very important.

As a narrative history, Rocket Men is quite enjoyable and a page turner. It is highly recommended. Feb 24, Christopher rated it really liked it Shelves: space-apollo-program , non-fiction , space , own-yes , read-no , space-moon.

Short version: Wow, what a surprise. To space fans, Apollo 8 is probably the least celebrated of the great spaceflights of the cold war.

There wasn't a book devoted to covering the flight until Zimmerm Short version: Wow, what a surprise. There wasn't a book devoted to covering the flight until Zimmerman published his trailblazing book in , thirty years after the fact.

Amazingly, it was nearly another twenty years before Kluger's book arrived in Kluger is an outstanding writer, and I think his efforts on Lost Moon made it one of the best books about the Apollo program.

With Apollo 8 , it seemed to me that Kluger had written the definitive book about Apollo 8. Kluger wrote elegantly and authoritatively, and he tells the story almost through the eyes of the astronauts themselves.

What more needed to be said about this event? But as we sometimes learn, a new perspective can be refreshing, even when we think the last word may have been spoken about a particular subject.

In , a new book about Apollo 8 was unexpected, especially from a writer whose skills did not appear to be in aerospace.

I found Rocket Men by a happy accident during a search on Amazon, and I automatically knew I needed to have it. Robert Kurson was a bestselling author, but I didn't know anything about him or the book he wrote, Shadow Divers.

It was with that skepticism that began reading Rocket Men. It initially did nothing to allay my fears. First, I groused about the title, which I felt was too broad and undescriptive.

Rocket Men also happens to be the title of an earlier and lesser book about the Apollo program, so the chance of confusion was possible.

What author wants to title their book after an earlier, undistinguished book about the same subject? Kurson was losing me right from the gate.

What quiet engineer contemplates saving the world? This did not seem like the behavior of George Low, one of the architects of the Apollo program.

What a melodramatic way to begin a book, I kept thinking. As Kluger accurately described in his book, the crew that would eventually become Apollo 8—Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders—were originally slated for a high earth orbit mission on Apollo 9.

This is an important change, and all it needs is a short explanation of before and after. The reader might naturally believe it's a typo on page 9.

Elsewhere, there are a few minor errors of fact. In one instance, Kurson describes the launch of Sputnik 1 in as having taken place at the Baikonur Cosmodrome—although the launch complex was not known by that name until many years later.

In the s it was known merely as a missile test range near Tyuratam. And how about that those skillsets arguably vaulted the US space program ahead of the Soviets by that point?

To understand how Apollo came to be, I think it must be said why Gemini was important in laying the groundwork.

And then came my outrage of the book. Kraft is certainly referring to a specific point in the Apollo 8 planning, when a December mission date was contemplated but not yet committed.

By the time Kurson tells this story, Slayton had already swapped Apollo 8 and 9, and Apollo 8 was designated a lunar mission with a known December window.

So why would there be any question about lunar positions and trajectories? Because there wouldn't be. Kurson inserted this story too late, and it should have taken place when the change was being discussed in August.

I'll freely admit that I'm nitpicking heavily on some of this. But that's what I do with any space book. As I begin reading space history books by unfamiliar authors, my bullshit radar is always locked on.

Likewise, I'm also looking for positives that set books and authors apart from others. No difference here. All of these goals were extremely hazardous, and potentially catastrophic.

Apollo 8 would be by far the riskiest and most complex mission of the US space program to that point. That realization was not lost on James Webb.

To his credit, he deferred to his colleagues and allowed the plan to proceed. Webb was wary of the great risks involved in the mission, and he may have felt betrayed that he was kept out of the loop on decisions such as the configuration of Apollo 8 as a lunar mission.

In several stretches, Kurson shares that there was some pessimism about scheduling Apollo 8 during the Christmas season. That was potentially a very heavy burden to carry into retirement.

It probably would have crushed him. In another interesting section, Kurson highlights that it was Frank Borman who was the key figure who trimmed the number of lunar orbits down to just ten i.

He figured the longer they stayed away from earth, the more the chance for failure. Borman also fought other, lesser battles as well, including his refusal to allow a TV camera on the flight a battle which he lost.

Like all single-mission histories, Rocket Men features the requisite chapter-long bios of the crewmembers. Kurson did his homework here, as well.

All of the bios include some information either not widely shared or never before. I also came away with an even fuller understanding of—and maybe even an appreciation for—Borman's tightly wound, no-nonsense personality.

Another deeply reported section—also not mentioned in the other Apollo 8 books—describes the evening before launch day.

After the crew spent time with Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Anders had several guests of his own, including his childhood priest. As the visit continued, Borman—tense in the hours ahead of launch—snapped at Anders for the perceived distraction, and then apologized for his outburst.

Kurson takes his time, imparting a number of interesting details. Not long after, he even notes that the red alloy rings were for output and the blue rings were for input—not the usual stuff most Apollo books repeat ad infinitum.

One of my pet peeves about space books is authors' tendencies to summarize the pre-launch, launch, and post launch phases into disappointingly few pages.

If I remember correctly, Zimmerman's book summarized the Apollo 8 launch in a flimsy three pages. Launch is one of the greatest fascinations of rocket flight, but sadly, not many writers get it right.

Here, it was surprising and satisfying to finally read an author expounding upon this central subject. Kurson manages to weave many different elements into a fast-moving narrative, and gets into a good amount of detail.

He emphasizes the rough ascent of the Saturn V rocket and notes several times how terrifically loud it was in the command module.

Still, Borman kept his hand steady at the abort handle, and when the third stage engaged, Borman reported the problem had safely passed.

To be completed. Sep 12, Carly Friedman rated it it was amazing Shelves: audiobooks , nfbc-brs-and-botms , because-science.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Kurson did an amazing job describing multiple aspects of the Apollo 8 mission.

We also learn about how they were selected, the training and other preparation for the mission, and their wives and families. I loved the chapters that summarized the political and social environment during that time period.

The description of the mission had me on the edge of my seat f I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The description of the mission had me on the edge of my seat from takeoff to their return on earth.

Kurson interviewed the astronauts and thus the level of detail is amazing. Highly recommended! I genuinely look forward to reading more by this author.

Dec 01, Ben rated it liked it Shelves: space. The story of Apollo 8, the first manned trip to and around the Moon. For example, Bill Anders took his famous Earthrise photo in orbit around the Moon.

There's very little new information here, but it is a good story. Kurson's angle seems to have been to interview each of the astronauts and their families, so we hear about their thoughts, and family and marital problems.

That's fine. There are extended biographical sketches of each astronaut. The book gives a good sense of the atmosphere for the The story of Apollo 8, the first manned trip to and around the Moon.

The book gives a good sense of the atmosphere for the astronauts and their families. Kurson also includes short summaries of current events.

Even though this is obviously just filler, to bulk the book up, I appreciated the context. The astronaut hero worship is still tiresome.

For example, Kurson says that no one else would have been willing to make the trip because it was so dangerous!

I think millions of people would have happily volunteered. Based on this book, one might wonder if anybody else worked for NASA, or if the astronauts designed and built the rockets themselves.

Jan 30, Linden rated it it was amazing. John F. The USA had a tremendous desire to win the space race, however, and against all odds, Apollo 8 was conceived and implemented, some said too quickly.

Astronauts Borman, Lovell, and Anders went on the historic Christmas mission to orbit the moon, and after a terrible year of riots, carnage in Vietnam, and assassinations of two beloved lea John F.

Feb 11, Laurens Ter Heegde rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction. This book has been one of the most thrilling reads of my life.

Kurson managed to draw me into the command module and make me feel like I was there together with Borman, Lovell and Anders. The narrative extensively treats the context of the mission in relation to the tensions that were troubling the United States in Since I was born over three decades after the events, this greatly helped in explaining the motives behind taking the gigantic risks involved with the mission.

The story conveys This book has been one of the most thrilling reads of my life. The story conveys the experience and effects of the mission on both a personal and collective level.

Ultimately, I believe that this book does justice to the achievements of all the people involved in leaving our own world and reaching another for the first time in history.

Feb 18, Janine rated it it was amazing. So incredible! Feb 17, Victoria rated it liked it Shelves: netgalley , abandoned.

This is an excellent read and I think most with an interest in anything space will really enjoy it. For me, perhaps it's because I've read SO much about the space program, I found it it to be somewhat pedestrian.

I didn't find too much here that I didn't already know something about and didn't think this telling brought that much new to the story.

Apr 11, Christi Tulenko rated it it was amazing. Read while sheltering at home during a national pandemic. I absolutely loved this beautifully written account of Apollo 8 and the three Astronauts who made Mans first Journey to the moon.

Sep 22, Cynda rated it liked it Shelves: biography-or-memior , technology , read , reading-mostly-nonfiction , travel , moon. Very accessible for just about anyone interested in the topic.

I got to meet the astronauts,to meet their families of origin and generation, and to get a glimpse of what life was like on board Apollo 8.

All of this written in a way that read like a novel--somethung important to many many readers. I just wanted more technology and science.

I will take less readability almost any day if I can get the information. Overall: Enjoyable and Informative. May 25, Jim rated it it was amazing.

The main part of the book focuses on the three astronauts who were the first to go to the Moon--not to land on it, but orbit it--and those were the three men of Apollo 8- Borman, Lovell, and Anders.

Kurson gives us a succinct background to Apollo, which was the Cold War and Kennedy's commitment to send men to the moon by the end of the s.

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A rating of a whopping five stars is what I have given the audiobook narration. Yep, this was definitely worth reading, despite my hesitation. View all 7 comments.

May 21, Cindy Burnett rated it it was amazing. Kurson provides just enough technical details to interest the reader and effectively relay the story without bogging down the reader with information that most people would find unnecessary and potentially boring.

While my favorite part of the book was the amazing story Kurson tells, I also found some solace in the realization that the United States has previously survived a politically contentious time period similar to the one we are currently experiencing.

Rocket Men is a powerful and life-affirming story that will resonate with anyone who reads it. It was a joy to read from beginning to end.

View all 3 comments. This is an amazing story, made even more amazing by Ray Porter's excellent narration. I can't help but feel that, much like when this tale took place, we need this kind of patriotic, inspiring story to get us through this tough time.

Sorry to get political. These men were patriots, they were brave and they were Americans. It was a pleasure to learn more about them. Libraries RULE!

Comprehensive story, but I think I should have had a paper copy. View 1 comment. Jan 13, Kend rated it it was ok Shelves: first-reads , merica , abhorribles , space-but-not-science-fiction , biographies , pop-science.

How is it even possible to make a book about space that I don't love? If you're quoting someone or deliberately reflecting the patterns of speech of your subjects think Tom Wolfe in The Right Stuff that's one thing.

If you're reaching for the easiest phrase in the phrasebook, that's This was definitely not the former.

Every line of this book felt uniform in tone and pattern. This do How is it even possible to make a book about space that I don't love?

This doesn't ever happen in real life, and I always notice when I'm fifty or a hundred pages into a book and can't even remember which character said which line in a dialogue because they all sound identical and have done so throughout.

This is ostensibly a book documenting actual things which happened. In space. And yet I was about a quarter of the way in before I found the first evidence of research quotation marks, block quotes, footnotes, asterisks, end-note citations, lines like "in early interviews, [x] was prone to saying [y]".

And there were only a handful of moments throughout this book's hundreds of collective pages when Kurson made reference to documentation.

I literally had no clue that this book was based on interviews until I read the author's note at the very end of the book.

I received an early copy, so there were no appendices or indices or end matter other than that note It won't ever be enough to salvage the book from its lack of internal cues throughout.

And it bothers me that Kurson adopted a journalist's supposedly objective "reporting" voice for conveying the internal feelings of people who have long since died and never recorded their feelings about these events in public.

And just like the dialogue, these italicized internal thoughts felt uniform. They felt like Kurson's voice. It felt like a lie every time.

And I really think there probably is something fascinating about her, but her development of Alzheimer's means that she was not able to contribute her own thoughts and feelings to this book.

Which means that every line and thought attributed to her struck me as As projections of Kurson's own thoughts and feelings.

I honestly can't remember a single evocative image from this book. It consists of hundreds of pages of Kurson telling his readers that things happened If you're not going to saturate your book with research or are going to base it entirely upon personal interviews conveyed anecdotally and without confirmation and you're not going to try and impress upon your readers the experience of the moment, what's left?

You're not a McCullough or a Wolfe, obviously. If I'd had a hand in editing this book, I would have recommended trimming the summarizing waaaaay back and finding a compelling through-line.

This book has no narrative heart. I read sections of this book aloud to my roomies while at a graduate course intensive. View 2 comments. Jan 24, Dave rated it it was amazing Shelves: netgalley-books , read-have.

Kurson's incredible book "Rocket Men" tells one of the greatest stories of adventure in the modern age, a story that captivated not just the nation, but the entire world.

It's the story of the race to the moon. If you loved The Right Stuff and Apollo 13, you'll love this book. After the Soviets launched Sputnik, the space race had begun and, although John Kennedy set getting to the moon within ten years as a goal, it almost didn't happen.

Growing up, we all knew the names of the three astronauts Kurson's incredible book "Rocket Men" tells one of the greatest stories of adventure in the modern age, a story that captivated not just the nation, but the entire world.

Growing up, we all knew the names of the three astronauts who actually landed on the moon, but the story of Apollo 8, the rocket that first made it to the moon is a far more incredible story, particularly given how quickly the launch came together without the usual testing.

Kurson takes on a journey with Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, to the moon and back, step by breathtaking step.

You can feel the world's emotions as the countdown commences, as each rocket stage breaks off, as the astronauts disappear in the dark side of the moon, and as they re-enter the earth's atmosphere and splash into the Pacific.

It's also set appropriately in historical perspective with the Cold War space race, the war in Vietnam, the riots in the cities, and in as Dr King and Robert Kennedy were brutally cut down, taking with them so much of the hopes and dreams of the nation.

It took a Christmas miracle in the form of Apollo 8 to give the country hope and optimism again. Kurson also gives us the background history of each of these astronauts, where they grew up, how they met their wives, how they dreamed of being test pilots and eventually chosen to be the second group of astronauts, following the Gemini program.

It's amazing that this journey to the moon could be done with the simple technology of the day and the computers they had then.

Yet, the scientist' calculations were spot on. This book is do well-written and do fascinating that it was a joy to read.

Thank you to Random House for providing a copy for review. Shelves: , audio , read-in , nonfiction , hear-hear-on-bt. I remember well for its many tragedies and a pervasive gloominess about the country's future outlook.

What I don't remember is how the year ended with the first manned trip to the moon on Apollo 8, set to launch Christmas day.

One man even told NASA they dare not launch on Christmas, because it was sure to fail, kill everyone, and ruin the holiday for the entire country from that day forward.

But the flight succeeded. Succeeded in ways one couldn't imagine at t - A blast from the past. Succeeded in ways one couldn't imagine at the time, and for which credit is seldom given.

It gave the country a blast of just what it needed at that time -- Spirit? Unity, I think. Another thing I cannot remember are the names of which astronauts went with which Apollo mission.

I am horrible with names. And numbers. Apollo 11 and 13 stand out but only because they are in the news so often. A thankfully brief history was given, and then on to the exciting stuff, off to orbit the moon and witness the dark side.

Some male acquaintances will find the descriptions of getting sick in a spaceship --where vomit and diarrhea become floating projectiles -- quite amusing.

Well, so did I! And I enjoyed the suspense each time the spaceship came to a new phase in its journey, always with a question about whether it would function as designed, or fail.

And the human faces put on the three astronauts as they made mistakes and at times struggled with their choices that put family second to career. Narrator Ray Porter has a very nice voice and was able to make his reading sound conversational and to keep me interested even in the science parts.

In the lighter moments, I could have sworn I was listening to a snarky Tom Hanks, which is the highest of compliments! This is an amazing book.

I believe that the Apollo 11 story has really overshadowed this story. The author does a wonderful job of introducing us to the men who oversaw and flew this mission.

He also really put the mission into perspective for the country. This is a great audiobook. Aug 20, Scott rated it it was amazing.

Whether it was the surprise Tet Offensive, the capture of the USS Pueblo, the riots in the streets of Chicago during the DNC, or the double-tragedy of the Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations, many headline news stories were often casting a fairly bleak view for the country.

But in the final weeks there was a story that, if only for a few brief moments, raised the spirits for some of the nation during the holiday season.

Kurso - America was not having a particularly good year. The goal, as put forth by JFK in his brief presidency, was to land Americans on the moon before I think this was one of the better straightforward 20th century history books I've read in awhile.

Feb 09, Jeff rated it it was amazing Shelves: yearread , science , non-fiction. Apollo 8 was the first time human beings traveled beyond Earth orbit and through deep space to another world - three astronauts traveled to the moon and made ten orbits before returning to the Earth.

Rocket Men is a fantastic recounting of this mission and the stories of the three astronauts that pulled it off: Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders.

And you will understand why when you read the book. The US was lagging behind the Russians in all aspects of the space race - the Russians had put the first human in space, performed the first spacewalk, and had their eyes firmly set on the moon.

Meanwhile, NASA was having issues with their massive and complicated space vehicle, the Saturn V, which was designed to carry the first astronauts to the moon.

With intelligence coming back of an impending Russian mission to send cosmonauts to a lunar orbit, NASA gambled and decided to push Apollo 8 forward, despite the fact that engines malfunctioned during the unmanned Apollo 6 test flight.

There was a lot of hand wringing at NASA as the apex of the Apollo 8 mission would take place over Christmas and if something went wrong at the moon or before and the astronauts did not return, many would look at the moon differently and would remember Christmas with a heavy heart from that year forward.

Rocket Men contains a lot of biographical information about the three astronauts before and after Apollo 8, not just what they went through during the mission.

The reader also gets to know their wives, which I though was pretty neat, because they went through so much while their husbands trained and flew their missions.

I remember watching as much as I could of the subsequent missions, though. The Saturn V is an amazing sight, and still the most powerful machine ever made.

I am nuts about all things space. But there is so much more to this book than just a space mission. Take time to read the Sources section at the end of the book.

He also spend days with then NASA Flight Director Chris Kraft, interviewed anyone connected with Apollo 8 still alive to get the full story, and pored over many once-secret declassified documents.

The detail in the book is a testament to the amount of research carried out. Apollo 8 is truly a great story of boldly venturing in to the unknown along the lines of other monumental quests like climbing Everest, sailing across the Atlantic for the first time, or traveling to the poles for the first time.

View all 5 comments. Nov 17, Jason rated it it was amazing. Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 is a very compelling narrative history of the first and very risky journey of man leaving earth to orbit the moon.

Kurson, like in his previous work, Shadow Divers, delves deeply into the context of a singular event, and makes the unique fit into the larger history.

While appropriate attention is devoted to their three families back in Houston, events in Missio Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 is a very compelling narrative history of the first and very risky journey of man leaving earth to orbit the moon.

While appropriate attention is devoted to their three families back in Houston, events in Mission Control and a couple chapters to set the historical scene of the tumultuous in the United States, most of the text of this book takes place within the 11 x 13 sq foot space of the Apollo 8 command module.

Even within that confined capsule, that traveled a quarter million miles, and with an outcome that is well known, the intensity of the flight, it's risky and aggressiveness and world historical importance are told with full impact.

The admiration the author has for the crew is clear. The respect he has for their families and ground control teams comes through well enough.

He does perhaps hit on a bit too often the risks involved with the engines, and the lunar orbit insertion and extraction burns.

That said, the he has written in a way that the reader can be the fourth member of the crew, understanding why events and decisions happened the way they did.

Kurson draws on great secondary sources, but the strength of this book is his access and extensive interviews of the three crew members and their families.

Due to their age, this book may be the last time their full story can be told this way and so well. Each of the three astronauts, who later achieved success in the corporate world, goes to great lengths to show the love and connection they had and still have with their families and especially their spouses.

As a the fifty year anniversary of this mission is approaching, reliving the important events of Apollo 8 for a new generation is very important.

As a narrative history, Rocket Men is quite enjoyable and a page turner. It is highly recommended. Feb 24, Christopher rated it really liked it Shelves: space-apollo-program , non-fiction , space , own-yes , read-no , space-moon.

Short version: Wow, what a surprise. To space fans, Apollo 8 is probably the least celebrated of the great spaceflights of the cold war. There wasn't a book devoted to covering the flight until Zimmerm Short version: Wow, what a surprise.

There wasn't a book devoted to covering the flight until Zimmerman published his trailblazing book in , thirty years after the fact.

Amazingly, it was nearly another twenty years before Kluger's book arrived in Kluger is an outstanding writer, and I think his efforts on Lost Moon made it one of the best books about the Apollo program.

With Apollo 8 , it seemed to me that Kluger had written the definitive book about Apollo 8. Kluger wrote elegantly and authoritatively, and he tells the story almost through the eyes of the astronauts themselves.

What more needed to be said about this event? But as we sometimes learn, a new perspective can be refreshing, even when we think the last word may have been spoken about a particular subject.

In , a new book about Apollo 8 was unexpected, especially from a writer whose skills did not appear to be in aerospace.

I found Rocket Men by a happy accident during a search on Amazon, and I automatically knew I needed to have it. Robert Kurson was a bestselling author, but I didn't know anything about him or the book he wrote, Shadow Divers.

It was with that skepticism that began reading Rocket Men. It initially did nothing to allay my fears. First, I groused about the title, which I felt was too broad and undescriptive.

Rocket Men also happens to be the title of an earlier and lesser book about the Apollo program, so the chance of confusion was possible.

What author wants to title their book after an earlier, undistinguished book about the same subject? Kurson was losing me right from the gate.

What quiet engineer contemplates saving the world? This did not seem like the behavior of George Low, one of the architects of the Apollo program.

What a melodramatic way to begin a book, I kept thinking. As Kluger accurately described in his book, the crew that would eventually become Apollo 8—Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders—were originally slated for a high earth orbit mission on Apollo 9.

This is an important change, and all it needs is a short explanation of before and after. The reader might naturally believe it's a typo on page 9.

Elsewhere, there are a few minor errors of fact. I saw this book with the picture of Buzz Aldrin next to the U.

Oh well, would that it were worth it. Don't get me wrong, it is not a bad book. Craig Nelson wrote a very well received biography of Thomas Paine, and his writing is crisp and detailed.

What this one lacked was really anything new that one I am a sucker for books about the Space Race. What this one lacked was really anything new that one could not get out of any of the other 75, books about the Apollo program.

I made the mistake of actually thinking it was solely about Apollo The info on Von Braun, whose record of service with the Nazis has been classified and then expunged, is quite well done.

But again, there is little here that is new. Besides some excellent quotes from Alan Sheperd concerning JFK actually using the term "Space Cadet" with its original connotation and a couple of anecdotes about the years after the mission, a reader should check out "Moon Shot" by Deke Slayton and Shepard.

For those like me who constantly bitch that the US put men on the moon 42 years ago and that we are now a country whose own citizens think can do nothing right, Nelson does offer some hope.

He does point out that it took roughly 60 years to get from the Wright Bros to reliable jet travel.

Of course, space travel is much more difficult than jet travel. It also took roughly years between Columbus "discovered" a continent with millions of people on it and the founding of Plymouth colony.

We could do more; the question as always is are we willing to pay for it? In the s, it was "Hot damn! Let's go! We can't afford stuff like space flight!

Good lord! I'll cut three departments from the Federal government: Commerce, the EPA and that one what deals with school lunches.

Reagan is wrong with these people? I found this an absorbing read of the seemingly miraculous feat of America's race to be the first to put a man on the moon.

This history is informative, entertaining, and thrilling. With a plethora of first hand reminiscing and reflective commentary by those intimately engaged with NASA's Apollo missions the reader gets a good lead-up narrative to and through the greatest voyage in human history.

It is the story of a cold war and its accompanying space race with the Soviets that begins at the e I found this an absorbing read of the seemingly miraculous feat of America's race to be the first to put a man on the moon.

It is the story of a cold war and its accompanying space race with the Soviets that begins at the end of World War II with the U. Then on through the Mercury and Gemini programs and all the challenges confronted by the engineers, astronauts, their families, and the four hundred thousand people generally unknown that made it all possible.

A very satisfactory read that I highly recommend. Apr 08, Robert Fritz rated it it was amazing. I don't often give a book five stars, however it is well deserved in this case.

Yes this is a story of Apollo 11, but it is also a story of early rockets, the Cold War, NASA, politics, the various astronauts, how space travel affected the individuals and their families, and a question of "what next".

The real reason the book is so good is that Nelson has such an excellent way with telling a complete story that I found it fascinating - even though I'm not much of a space buff.

A favorite line at I don't often give a book five stars, however it is well deserved in this case. A favorite line at the end of the book They do so for reasons that are intuitive and compelling to all of us but that are not necessarily logical.

They're exactly the opposite of acceptable reasons, which are eminently logical but neither intuitive nor emotionally compelling This behavior is rooted in our genes.

Sep 24, Noelle rated it it was amazing. This book to me is the "bible" of the space race. Lots of new details but presented in a manner that will still hold the interest of the everyday non rocket scientist reader..

Oct 16, Nathan rated it really liked it. A very interesting history of the background of the first men to walk on the moon.

The book was a bit plodding at first because it has so much detail, but it moved faster as the book went on. A few interesting facts from the book: - 11 of the 12 moon-walkers were Boy Scouts.

Through interviews, 23, pages of NASA oral histories, and declassified CIA documents on the space race, Nelson offers a grippingly vivid and detailed account of the Apollo 11 mission.

Beginning with the arduous training to the stress of media stardom, the author recounts the story of a twentieth-century pilgrimage, a voyage into the unknown motivated by politics, science, and wonder.

A voyage that changed history. It is the story of ground crews and Mission Control and those who stood behind the men and the mission.

Readers will find themselves cheering for their astounding accomplishments. Highly recommended. Jul 18, Megan Dax rated it it was amazing.

Amazing book! Since the day my father popped in the movie The Right Stuff, I was hooked. I wanted to join the Air Force, fly planes and launch into space.

Being part of something greater than myself is still one of my greatest honors as it was for the men involved in the race to space.

While earning pennies, these men worked diligently to accomplish something greater than themselves. Th Amazing book! This book skips around a little, but it took nothing away from the great information shared.

Jan 21, Howard rated it it was amazing. A great history of the quest to land on the moon, for those that have lived it, and especially for those that are too young to remember.

Rocket Men by Craig Nelson is a good, solid book on the origins of the space program, the space race, and Apollo Having completed it, I feel I learned a great deal.

The largest portion of the book is focused on the Apollo 11 mission and astronauts. The book begins with the lead-up to the Apollo 11 launch and then takes a detour to cover the origins of the space program, with a significant amount of time explaining the cold war fueled space race between the U.

After this overview, we return to the Apollo 11 narrative, covering the launch, the mission, and lives of the Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins.

Very little is mentioned of the later Apollo missions, which I found disappointing. The book concludes with an indictment of the current space program and an appeal to regain the magic that took us to the Moon and back.

Nelson uses a large number of quotes from those involved to tell most of this story, which works surprisingly well. It does make the narrative dry at points, but not enough to drag the book down.

I recommend the book to anyone that has an interest in the space race period of the 60's or the Apollo 11 mission.

As someone who has always loved the idea of space exploration, I share Nelson's sentiments regarding the decline of NASA and America's drive to reach to the stars.

Its sad to think that after the success of Apollo, a commission presented President Nixon with three options for the future of the space program: funding the development of the space shuttle and a space station, funding a manned mission to Mars, or funding both of the aforementioned with the addition of a lunar station.

Nixon chose none of the above, and cut NASA's funding, telling them to focus on the space shuttle alone.

The decline of the manned space program is a tragedy and one that I hope will one day be rectified. In the meantime, however, you can read about the amazing things that man was able to accomplish in such a brief period of time, with combined strength of a few brilliant minds, determined people, and the support of the American public.

Oct 31, Skyring rated it really liked it. I love reading the story of the moon race. It all seemed so easy on the diagrams printed in the paper.

Just fly to the moon, descend to the surface, walk around a bit, fly back up, light the rocket and come home. But every step of the long way there was difficult, once you begin to "drill down" into the details.

Things like gimbal lock and Max-Q emerge from the murk of technology. Every tiny problem had to be solved, and solved in a way that didn't cause problems for anything else.

Make a support I love reading the story of the moon race. Make a support member stronger and it makes it heavier, which means more fuel needed to lift it, which means more fuel needed to lift the extra fuel, which means bigger tanks, which leads to a point where you have to make compromises.

It's a fascinating tale of engineering and systems, let alone the people who gave up years of their lives to do it all. A whole generation of engineers and pilots barely got to share in their children's lives.

Meetings were regularly scheduled for two in the morning. You'd think after reading the same tale so many times, i'd know all the details, but no, every retelling adds fresh perspectives, fresh anecdotes.

This book is no exception, drawing on political perspectives long suppressed for security reasons. We know a lot more about the Soviet effort now, for example.

And, despite those inspiring words which rang out in the early Sixties, JFK really had no great interest in spaceflight. I enjoyed this book immensely.

The oral history interviews, the memories freed up after decades, the embarrassing details of the German scientists running slave camps, the explanations of the reasons why certain things were done that way - it's all a great read for anyone with a passing interest.

I envy the reader coming in "cold". This book would seem like magic to the younger folk who have grown up with no direct experience of those great days.

I saw the moonwalk at school, but for so many it's just a fuzzy, grainy video clip from the olden days. The olden days when great deeds were done, when the curves all lined up to impel nations to do wondrous things.

Nowadays, we just go to war and try to pound the other guy flat. Oct 22, Andy rated it really liked it. There are countless books and documentaries on the U.

Nelson describes the vast manpower needed to engineer, build, and test the spacecraft, and he notes that while each component was designed for Statistically then, thousands of parts were expected to fail.

On Apollo 11, system failure led to at least one hair-raising event, a malfunction of the guidance computer during the lunar landing, requiring Armstrong to manually target and land the LM.

No mere technophile, Nelson highlights the personalities in both the American and the Soviet space programs. Aldrin has also published a book this year, covering some of the same territory but, presumably, in much greater detail.

Whether you consider Apollo 11 to be the pinnacle of American technological achievement or merely an act of socio-political machismo and an extremely expensive one at that , it will forever be remembered as one of the most spectacular outcomes of the Cold War era.

Apr 19, Dave Gaston rated it really liked it Shelves: classic , invention , nonfiction , america , science , history , bull-ya-boy-book , s , nerdy , mavric-of-industry.

Several times I was shocked by the clarity of his story telling at both the macro and micro levels. Nelson achieves this effect by layering together a sweeping series of well edited personal cameos, each on to itself a fascinating victory or tragedy.

The space race captured the imagination of the world and sparked a national and international media frenzied. He also made the book deeply emotional and accessible by revealing the personal lives of each Apollo astronaut and their families.

Finally, not to put too big a bow on it, this is also a very macho story stuffed with genius level intellect, national pride, determination, risk and bravado.

The science alone is staggering. I kept thinking how did they do all this without an I-Mac? One of the more interesting aspects of Rocket Men is the direct parallel and interrelationship between the space program and the international arms race.

It seems obvious now that I step away from it, but prior to reading this fine book it never dawned on me that the two programs were in fact one and the same.

What worked for space rockets worked for war rockets. Rather clever how it was spun and sold to America! View 2 comments. Jun 10, Upom rated it liked it Shelves: history , science , nonfiction , physics , space , astronauts , rockets.

The space race was probably one of the most fascinating periods in American history. It was a time the U. But because of political polarization, detente, and poor PR on the part of NASA and scientists alike, nothing like the space race has happened since.

Covering everything from the origins of rockets to the end of the Apollo program, Nelson shows The space race was probably one of the most fascinating periods in American history.

Covering everything from the origins of rockets to the end of the Apollo program, Nelson shows the personalities and working of the U.

Full of interviews, interesting facts, and entertaining anecdotes, the book shows how politics and technology came together to push the program forward.

The book really covers some interesting territory, including the effects of fame and accomplishment on the men who went to the moon. The book was not perfect, however.

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