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The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
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The Right Stuff (original 1979; edition 1980)

by Tom Wolfe

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2,758382,130 (4.19)69
Member:justjim
Title:The Right Stuff
Authors:Tom Wolfe
Info:Bantam (1980), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Space, History, X projects, Mercury, Apollo

Work details

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe (1979)

  1. 20
    Failure is not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond by Eugene Kranz (Anonymous user)
  2. 10
    V-2 by Walter Dornberger (dukeallen)
  3. 10
    A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts by Andrew Chaikin (paulkid)
    paulkid: Chaikin gives a respectful account of the later astronauts' journeys and their personalities, while Wolfe gives irreverent and hilarious depictions of the mood and personalities surrounding the beginning of the space race (ie, Mercury and pre-Mercury).
  4. 00
    Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Wolfe tells of the early and sometimes would-be astronauts and Smith of the later ones who walked on the moon. Both books are wonderfully readable.
  5. 00
    Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach (nessreader)
    nessreader: The shift in corporate mentality in NASA between the testosterone drenched fighter pilots of Wolfe's era and the team orientated and PR-paranoid present is instructive. The terrifying discipline required seems equal; in any case, interesting to compare.
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» See also 69 mentions

English (34)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
If you don't mind hyperbole then Wolfe is your man. However he knows when to lay it on & when to leave off & let the story carry you along. However it is a bit over-long as a result. A follow- up would be great but I doubt that there is now the tension/ opportunity of new ground etc. to write an account such as this.
  AndrewCapey | Jul 17, 2014 |
Details the inklings and eventual advent of the space program from breaking the sound barrier to Project Mercury to the decision to land a man on the moon, all told in Wolfe's... delightful style. Structured around the military test pilots who daily risked their lives pushing the boundaries of human achievement - oozing the right stuff. Hooray for the Cold War? I could be pretty easily convinced that without it, there wouldn't be a space program. ( )
  dandelionroots | Jul 6, 2014 |
A good piece of journalism about the space program in the USA. I like his level of research, and the narrator is less intrusive than the Norman Mailer book. ( )
  DinadansFriend | May 19, 2014 |
Truly a classic. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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Within five minutes, or ten minutes, no more than that, three of the others had called her on the telephone to ask her if she had heard that something had happened out there.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312427565, Paperback)

Tom Wolfe began The Right Stuff at a time when it was unfashionable to contemplate American heroism. Nixon had left the White House in disgrace, the nation was reeling from the catastrophe of Vietnam, and in 1979--the year the book appeared--Americans were being held hostage by Iranian militants. Yet it was exactly the anachronistic courage of his subjects that captivated Wolfe. In his foreword, he notes that as late as 1970, almost one in four career Navy pilots died in accidents. "The Right Stuff," he explains, "became a story of why men were willing--willing?--delighted!--to take on such odds in this, an era literary people had long since characterized as the age of the anti-hero."

Wolfe's roots in New Journalism were intertwined with the nonfiction novel that Truman Capote had pioneered with In Cold Blood. As Capote did, Wolfe tells his story from a limited omniscient perspective, dropping into the lives of his "characters" as each in turn becomes a major player in the space program. After an opening chapter on the terror of being a test pilot's wife, the story cuts back to the late 1940s, when Americans were first attempting to break the sound barrier. Test pilots, we discover, are people who live fast lives with dangerous machines, not all of them airborne. Chuck Yeager was certainly among the fastest, and his determination to push through Mach 1--a feat that some had predicted would cause the destruction of any aircraft--makes him the book's guiding spirit.

Yet soon the focus shifts to the seven initial astronauts. Wolfe traces Alan Shepard's suborbital flight and Gus Grissom's embarrassing panic on the high seas (making the controversial claim that Grissom flooded his Liberty capsule by blowing the escape hatch too soon). The author also produces an admiring portrait of John Glenn's apple-pie heroism and selfless dedication. By the time Wolfe concludes with a return to Yeager and his late-career exploits, the narrative's epic proportions and literary merits are secure. Certainly The Right Stuff is the best, the funniest, and the most vivid book ever written about America's manned space program. --Patrick O'Kelley

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:57 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

A narrative of the early days of the U.S. space program and the people who made it happen, including Chuck Yeager, Pete Conrad, Gus Grissom, and John Glenn.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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