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Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8…

Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made… (2018)

by Robert Kurson

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Excellent read. I can't get enough of this part of our country's history and this is a perfect blend of facts, events and emotions. Good pace, exciting story. ( )
  GrandmaCootie | Jan 27, 2019 |
Great story of three very brave individuals and the NASA team that made a leap of faith. ( )
  Schneider | Jan 10, 2019 |
The Space Race of the long 1960s (late ‘50s through the early ‘70s) reached its climax with the Apollo 11 Moom landing in July 1969. This is rightly seen as the greatest achievement in scene and technology of all time. However, over the last few years, as the memory and recognition of that great event has faded, another space mission has taken its place alongside Apollo 11.

In December 1968 the Apollo 8 mission sent three men to orbit the Moon. This was an adventure of firsts: the first use of the Saturn V rocket; the fastest that men had ever travelled; the furthest that men had ever gone in space; the first time that men had left the grip of Earth’s gravity; and so on.

Apart from the technical achievements, this was the mission that kick started the whole environmental movement. By taking the famous Earthrise photograph showing the blue/white/brown Earth as a small ball hanging in space, some much needed perspective was placed on the human place in the universe.

I thought I knew a fair amount about the Apollo 8 mission, but there was new information, new perspectives and new meaning revealed on almost every page of this book. Written in a pacy, accessible style Kurson has opened up this historical event in a way not seen before. His access to the key participants has ensured a you-are-there essence to the whole enterprise.

Not just for space nerds, this book shows how a society can affect and be affected by an expedition and how brave men react under extreme pressure. ( )
  pierthinker | Jan 3, 2019 |
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 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. "Borman taught elite young Air Force pilots to fly for America and defend her greatness." Rah, America! Based on this book, one might wonder if anybody else worked for NASA, or if the astronauts designed and built the rockets themselves. ( )
  breic | Dec 1, 2018 |
This book had the potential in Chapter one to go very bad. Kurson wrote something that would be mortifying to any intelligent adult reading a junior high history text (and, unfortunately, too many high school texts also): On George Low, NASA engineer..."His mission: to build a machine from the future that would help make the world safe for democracy." The saccharine drips from such a journalistic embarrassment.

But he recovered. This is the second book on Apollo 8 I've read this year. The other, titled Apollo 8: The Mission That Changed Everything, by Martin Sandler was an ARC I was fortunate to be allowed to review. This one is nominated for a Goodreads award.

Two books about the greatest space flight in the history of humanity to date - Apollo 11 gets its accolades, and is the greatest engineering achievement, but this...this was the first for so many things. Never had humans flown on the Saturn V. Never had they traveled so far. Never had they had to insert themselves into lunar orbit, and execute a trans-Earth insertion. Never had humans seen the far side of the moon in person.

Never had humans seen Earthrise. Kurson redeemed himself with a solid narrative, chock full of mission facts, candid information about the families and crew, a fitting tribute to a magnificent forgotten achievement. ( )
  Razinha | Nov 1, 2018 |
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Shares the inside story of the dangerous Apollo 8 mission, focusing on the lives of astronaut heroes Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, while illuminating the political factors that prompted the decision to risk lives to save the Apollo program and define the space race.… (more)

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