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Of a Fire on the Moon (1970)

by Norman Mailer

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353561,185 (3.85)15
For many, the moon landing was the defining event of the twentieth century. So it seems only fitting that Norman Mailer-the literary provocateur who altered the landscape of American nonfiction-wrote the most wide-ranging, far-seeing chronicle of the Apollo 11 mission. A classic chronicle of America's reach for greatness in the midst of the Cold War, Of a Fire on the Moon compiles the reportage Mailer published between 1969 and 1970 in Life magazine- gripping firsthand dispatches from inside NASA's clandestine operations in Houston and Cape Kennedy; technical insights into the magnitude of their awe-inspiring feat; and prescient meditations that place the event in human context as only Mailer could. Praise for Of a Fire on the Moon oThe gift of a genius . . . a twentieth-century American epic-a Moby Dick of space.o-New York oMailer's account of Apollo 11 stands as a stunning image of human energy and purposefulness. . . . It is an act of revelation-the only verbal deed to be worthy of the dream and the reality it celebrates.o-Saturday Review oA wild and dazzling book.o-The New York Times Book Review oStill the most challenging and stimulating account of (the) mission to appear in print.o-The Washington Post Praise for Norman Mailer o(Norman Mailer) loomed over American letters longer and larger than any other writer of his generation.o-The New York Times oA writer of the greatest and most reckless talent.o-The New Yorker oMailer is indispensable, an American treasure.o-The Washington Post oA devastatingly alive and original creative mind.o-Life oMailer is fierce, courageous, and reckless and nearly everything he writes has sections of headlong brilliance.o-The New York Review of Books oThe largest mind and imagination (in modern) American literature . . . Unlike just about every American writer since Henry James, Mailer has managed to grow and become richer in wisdom with each new book.o-Chicago Tribune oMailer is a master of his craft. His language carries you through the story like a leaf on a stream.o-The Cincinnati Post… (more)
1960s (237)
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680
  revirier | Dec 13, 2021 |
On topic, off topic, Mailer is a literary live wire. This is much more than sheer reportage, it's rumination, philosophy, history, egomania, and stylistic pyrotechnics. Sometimes, Mailer goes so far afield that you wonder if he will ever return to the topic. But even in these digressions, he's brilliant, provocative, and sometimes even wise. It's a roller coaster ride.

Do not come to this book simply for history. Come to it to be involved in the mind of Mailer as much as the Apollo project. ( )
  jordanjones | Feb 21, 2020 |
Norman Mailer's version of the Apollo 11 moon landing is interesting, though rather self-absorbed. It began as magazine coverage, but Norman made it into another of his studies of the effects of media and technology on American Life. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Feb 3, 2017 |
Not bad as a history of the Apollo moon-landing, but if you read this the likelihood is that you're more interested in Mailer than in astronauts. On that level, Mailer as "New Journalist," the book ranks quite highly — though definitely not comparable to The Executioner's Song and perhaps not quite even on the level of The Armies of the Night or Miami and the Siege of Chicago. Still, it's quite good.

Look, Mailer is probably love-him-or-hate-him for most readers. Personally, The Naked and the Dead is my favorite war novel and I think The Executioner's Song may be an even better book — and I think both of them, and in any event The Naked and the Dead, should be "must reads" for everyone. But if you're not the admirer of Mailer that I am, then Of a Fire on the Moon may be more of a book to skip over. ( )
  CurrerBell | Nov 30, 2015 |
Mailer's account of Apollo 11 begins with the death of Ernest Hemingway. It ends with his unsettling realization that he is about to divorce his wife. In between is an ambitious, scary, daring, edge-of-bombastic, utterly unexpected and urgent blast of prose that taught me more about the moon launch and that year and those times than any book I've read before. Mailer is always trying to get past the obvious thought. His power to observe and his ability to see significance in the smallest gesture or fact or event makes this an extraordinary book. I'm really upended by it. Some of the sentences were perfect. Others left me thinking, ok, this guy tried to wrench something amazing from this string of words and didn't make it...but even so I was stunned and grateful to know that he had tried at all, instead of staying in the safe borders of the expected. I don't understand why this book is a somewhat neglected work of a somewhat neglected writer. I can't recommend it enough, for anyone interested in understanding this decade of American history. ( )
  poingu | Jan 29, 2015 |
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Wikipedia in English (4)

For many, the moon landing was the defining event of the twentieth century. So it seems only fitting that Norman Mailer-the literary provocateur who altered the landscape of American nonfiction-wrote the most wide-ranging, far-seeing chronicle of the Apollo 11 mission. A classic chronicle of America's reach for greatness in the midst of the Cold War, Of a Fire on the Moon compiles the reportage Mailer published between 1969 and 1970 in Life magazine- gripping firsthand dispatches from inside NASA's clandestine operations in Houston and Cape Kennedy; technical insights into the magnitude of their awe-inspiring feat; and prescient meditations that place the event in human context as only Mailer could. Praise for Of a Fire on the Moon oThe gift of a genius . . . a twentieth-century American epic-a Moby Dick of space.o-New York oMailer's account of Apollo 11 stands as a stunning image of human energy and purposefulness. . . . It is an act of revelation-the only verbal deed to be worthy of the dream and the reality it celebrates.o-Saturday Review oA wild and dazzling book.o-The New York Times Book Review oStill the most challenging and stimulating account of (the) mission to appear in print.o-The Washington Post Praise for Norman Mailer o(Norman Mailer) loomed over American letters longer and larger than any other writer of his generation.o-The New York Times oA writer of the greatest and most reckless talent.o-The New Yorker oMailer is indispensable, an American treasure.o-The Washington Post oA devastatingly alive and original creative mind.o-Life oMailer is fierce, courageous, and reckless and nearly everything he writes has sections of headlong brilliance.o-The New York Review of Books oThe largest mind and imagination (in modern) American literature . . . Unlike just about every American writer since Henry James, Mailer has managed to grow and become richer in wisdom with each new book.o-Chicago Tribune oMailer is a master of his craft. His language carries you through the story like a leaf on a stream.o-The Cincinnati Post

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