high quality Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey wholesale of Apollo 8 and new arrival the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon online

high quality Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey wholesale of Apollo 8 and new arrival the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon online

high quality Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey wholesale of Apollo 8 and new arrival the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon online

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The riveting inside story of three heroic astronauts who took on the challenge of mankind’s historic first mission to the Moon, from the bestselling author of Shadow Divers.

“Robert Kurson tells the tale of Apollo 8 with novelistic detail and immediacy.”—Andy Weir, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian and Artemis


By August 1968, the American space program was in danger of failing in its two most important objectives: to land a man on the Moon by President Kennedy’s end-of-decade deadline, and to triumph over the Soviets in space. With its back against the wall, NASA made an almost unimaginable leap: It would scrap its usual methodical approach and risk everything on a sudden launch, sending the first men in history to the Moon—in just four months. And it would all happen at Christmas.

In a year of historic violence and discord—the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago—the Apollo 8 mission would be the boldest, riskiest test of America’s greatness under pressure. In this gripping insider account, Robert Kurson puts the focus on the three astronauts and their families: the commander, Frank Borman, a conflicted man on his final mission; idealistic Jim Lovell, who’d dreamed since boyhood of riding a rocket to the Moon; and Bill Anders, a young nuclear engineer and hotshot fighter pilot making his first space flight.

Drawn from hundreds of hours of one-on-one interviews with the astronauts, their loved ones, NASA personnel, and myriad experts, and filled with vivid and unforgettable detail, Rocket Men is the definitive account of one of America’s finest hours. In this real-life thriller, Kurson reveals the epic dangers involved, and the singular bravery it took, for mankind to leave Earth for the first time—and arrive at a new world.

Rocket Men is a riveting introduction to the [Apollo 8] flight. . . . Kurson details the mission in crisp, suspenseful scenes. . . . [A] gripping book.”—The New York Times Book Review

Review

“With  Rocket Men, Robert Kurson tells the tale of Apollo 8 with novelistic detail and immediacy, expertly capturing the urgency and suspense behind the mission that gave America the lead in the Space Race.” —Andy Weir, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian and Artemis

Rocket Men is a riveting introduction to the [Apollo 8] flight. . . . Kurson details the mission in crisp, suspenseful scenes. . . . [A] gripping book.” The New York Times Book Review

“Kurson’s first-rate account of this remarkable spaceflight starts by reminding us what a gamble it was, a revelatory wake-up nudge for anyone who thinks moon flights were routine. . . .  There are many pieces to the Apollo 8 story, but Kurson brings them together effortlessly.” USA Today

Rocket Men is close-to-the-bone adventure-telling on a par with Alfred Lansing’s  Endurance and Jon Krakauer’s  Into Thin Air. It’s as close to a movie as writing gets.” —Mary Roach, The Washington Post

“Kurson tells the behind-the-scenes story of Rocket Men with the pace of a thriller and the sensibility of a screenwriter. . . . With his focus on the astronauts’ young families, Kurson holds readers rapt to the heartwarming finale.” Vanity Fair

“Engrossing . . . Kurson builds suspense around a mind-bendingly complex and dangerous journey.” —Associated Press

“Spectacular . . . [ Rocket Men] carries on in great style through 350-some pages of ‘daring, adventure, risk-taking’ and so much more. . . . Kurson’s portraits of the men, as well as their wives, their families and space-program colleagues, are intimate and artfully drawn.” Chicago Tribune

“Refreshing . . . The book will bring long-deserved attention to a mission that has been overshadowed. . . . Apollo 8’s success not only salvaged the space program but also managed to relieve the pessimism regarding the future into which the country had plunged.” Lincoln Journal Star

“Apollo 11 grabbed the glory, but Apollo 8 was the mission that proved humans could travel to the Moon, and its crew (Jim Lovell, Frank Borman and William Anders) captured the landmark photo of Earthrise over the lunar horizon. This is the story of their mission, told in cinematic detail.” NBC News

“An account of what could be America’s most stunning achievement: Apollo 8 and the world’s first journey to the Moon. This is a great story. . . . The best book I’ve read this year.” —Jim Bridenstine, administrator of NASA

“In 1968 we sent men to the Moon. They didn’t leave boot prints, but it was the first time humans ever left Earth for another destination. That mission was Apollo 8. And  Rocket Men, under Robert Kurson’s compelling narrative, is that under-told story.” —Neil deGrasse Tyson

“A timely and thrilling reminder of a heroic American achievement . . . It has it all—suspense, drama, risk, and loving families. We could use those days again.” —Tom Brokaw

“Flat-out terrific . . . The tale is told with the care and clarity, and the heart-banging drama, that Robert Kurson''s legion of readers have come to expect from him.” —Scott Turow

“Kurson presents not only the challenges, risks, ambition, and success of Apollo 8, but a story of human spirit.” —Nicole Stott, NASA ISS and space shuttle astronaut

About the Author

Robert Kurson earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin and a law degree from Harvard Law School. His award-winning stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Esquire, where he was a contributing editor. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Shadow Divers, the 2005 American Booksellers Association’s nonfiction Book Sense Book of the Year; Crashing Through, based on Kurson’s 2006 National Magazine Award–winning profile in Esquire of the blind speed skier, CIA analyst, and entrepreneur Mike May; and Pirate Hunters. He lives in Chicago.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

Do You Want to Go to the Moon?

August 3, 1968—Four months earlier

As he sat on a beach in the Caribbean, a quiet engineer named George Low ran his fingers through the sand and wondered whether he should risk everything to win the Space Race and help save the world.

At forty-one, Low was already a top manager and one of the most important people at NASA, in charge of making sure the Apollo spacecraft was flightworthy.

Apollo had a single goal, perhaps the greatest and most audacious ever conceived: to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy had committed the United States to achieving this goal by the end of the decade. Never had a more inspiring promise been made to the American people—or one that could be so easily verified.

Now, Kennedy’s end-of-decade deadline was in jeopardy. Design and engineering problems with the lunar module—the spidery landing craft that would move astronauts from their orbiting ship to the lunar surface and back again—threatened to stall the Apollo program and put Kennedy’s deadline, just sixteen months away, out of reach. And that led to another problem. Every day that Apollo languished, the Soviet Union moved closer to landing its own crew on the Moon. And that mattered. The nation that landed the first men on the Moon would score the ultimate victory in the years-long Space Race between the two superpowers, one from which the second place finisher might never recover.

For months, NASA’s best minds had worked around the clock to fix the issues with the lunar module, but the temperamental and complex landing craft only fell further and further behind schedule. By summer, many at the space agency had abandoned hope of making a manned lunar landing by the end of the decade.

And then Low had an idea.

It had come to him just a few weeks before he’d arrived at this beach, and it was wild, an epiphany, a dream. It was also dangerous, risky beyond anything NASA had ever attempted. But the more Low thought about it, the more he believed it could keep the Apollo program moving and save Kennedy’s deadline—and maybe even beat the Soviets to the Moon.

Low inhaled the fresh, salty air and tried to push space travel out of his thoughts. At home, his mind burned nonstop with ideas, formulae, trajectories. Now he needed a break, and it should have been easy to find one in this tropical paradise. About the only reminder of America was the local newspaper, which told of the Newport Pop Festival in Costa Mesa, California, where more than a hundred thousand music fans were expected, and brought word of potential protests at the coming Democratic National Convention in Chicago. It had been an explosive year already, with assassinations, riots, and violence. A quiet beach was just where a man like Low needed to be.

But Low could not relax. He walked the beach, looking out over the ocean toward Moscow and the Moon, thinking, imagining, America and the world on fire behind him.

Five days after Low returned from vacation, a serious man with an oversized head went to work inside a giant assembly plant in Downey, California. His mission: to build a machine from the future that would help make the world safe for democracy.

Over and over, astronaut Frank Borman opened and closed the hatch on the Apollo command module, a cone-shaped capsule made to fly a three-man crew to the Moon. He’d already certified that the hatch worked, then certified it again, but he would not stop pushing on it, making sure it opened, no matter what.

Nearby, Borman’s two crewmates, Jim Lovell and rookie Bill Anders, got ready to test the hundreds of dials, switches, levers, lights, and gauges that made the command module work. The spacecraft was small, measuring just eleven feet tall and thirteen feet wide at its base, but every inch of it had been designed by Borman and others to be impervious to a galaxy of deadly forces.

A nearby transistor radio played Top 40 music, which caught Borman’s ear.

“That’s a pretty slick song,” Borman said. “Who’s the fella singing it?”

“That’s the Beatles, Frank,” Lovell said, laughing.

Borman preferred the standards. As a kid, he’d memorized the lyrics to all the great Western songs played on the radio in Arizona. He could still sing “Cowboy Jack”—a ditty that dated to the nineteenth century—but didn’t dare start because he knew Lovell and Anders would insist that he sing it to the end.

Borman stuck to classic films, too. Alone among astronauts, it seemed, he hadn’t bothered to see 2001: A Space Odyssey, the new Stanley Kubrick film released in April that showed men flying to the Moon. That stuff was science fiction, Borman told his colleagues; America had real people to get to the Moon.

Borman and his crewmates knew that the lunar module was troubled and behind schedule. But until designers and engineers could make the fixes, these astronauts could do little more than make certain that the command module was perfect. So they climbed inside their spacecraft and began testing it, pushing the command module mercilessly, because that’s what outer space would do to it, too.

And then the phone rang.

Smart people knew better than to bother Borman at work. But the man on the line went back a long way with Borman. And he said it was urgent.

Donald Kent “Deke” Slayton was in charge of managing astronaut training and choosing crews for manned space missions. If an astronaut flew on board a NASA spacecraft, it was because Slayton had chosen him to go.

When Borman heard who was calling, he wriggled out of the capsule and grabbed an extension.

“Deke, I’m in the middle of a big test here,” he said.

“Frank, I need you back in Houston.”

“Talk to me now.”

“No, I can’t talk over the phone. It’s gotta be in person. Grab an airplane and get to Houston. On the double.”

Borman grimaced—America did not have time for nonsense and delays—but Slayton was in charge, and NASA, no matter its official designation as a civilian organization, was a military operation to Borman, so he took his orders. Poking his head back inside the spacecraft, he told his partners, “You guys are stuck with the module. I’ve gotta go back to Houston.”

Borman grabbed his rental car, drove to Los Angeles International Airport, and hopped in a T-38 Talon, a two-seat twin-engine supersonic jet used by astronauts for training, commuting, and even some fun, and pointed it toward Texas. At forty, he still looked every bit the West Point cadet: sandy blond near-crewcut, square jaw and chin set for combat, arched eyebrows that seemed a radar for anything askew. Even his head was military issue, all right angles and slightly larger than life, a feature that had earned him the childhood nickname Squarehead.

Borman couldn’t imagine why he was needed in Houston, and so suddenly. He was commander of Apollo 9, the third of four manned test flights NASA planned before it would attempt to land men on the Moon. Apollo 9 was to be a basic mission—orbit Earth, test the spacecraft, come home. It wasn’t scheduled to launch for another six months. Still, Borman knew he hadn’t been summoned for nothing. The last time he’d received a “drop everything” call had been the darkest day in NASA’s history.

It had happened about a year and half earlier, on January 27, 1967, when a fire broke out in the spacecraft during a simulated countdown on the launchpad in Florida. The Apollo 1 rehearsal should have been safe and routine for the three astronauts inside, who were preparing for the actual flight about four weeks later. But a spark occurred in the electrical system and the men were trapped as the sudden fire spread in pure oxygen. Even Ed White, the strongest of all NASA’s astronauts, couldn’t muscle open the command module’s hatch as flames spread through the spacecraft.

Borman had been enjoying a rare break with his family at a lakeside cottage near Houston, where they lived, when Slayton’s call came in that day.

“Frank, we’ve had a bad fire on Pad Thirty-four and we’ve got three astronauts dead—Gus Grissom, Ed White, and one of the new boys, Roger Chaffee. Get to the Cape as quick as you can; you’ve been appointed to the investigative committee.”

The news stunned Borman, who considered Ed White the brother he’d never had. And it devastated Borman’s wife, Susan, who counted Pat White among her best friends. Borman told Slayton he’d fly to Florida right away but first needed to stop at the Whites’ home in Houston.

When he and Susan arrived, Pat was hysterical. She was the mother of two children, ages ten and thirteen, who suddenly had no father. Even in her raw grief, just hours after receiving the news, a Washington bureaucrat had informed her that despite Ed’s wishes to be buried at West Point, the three fallen astronauts would all be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

“Give me the guy’s name,” Borman said.

He had the man on the phone a minute later.

“It’s already been decided in Washington,” the man insisted.

“I don’t give a good goddamn what’s been decided,” Borman said. “Ed wanted to be buried at West Point and that’s what’s going to happen, and I’ll go all the way to President Johnson to make sure it happens, so you better fucking well do it.”

Four days later, White was buried at West Point. Borman and Lovell were among the pallbearers. Anders also attended.

After the funeral, Borman began his work on the investigative committee convened by NASA. He was the only astronaut on the panel, a sign that NASA considered him to be among its best. His first job was to help supervise the disassembly of the Apollo 1 spacecraft at Cape Kennedy in order to determine the cause of the fire. Days later, he became the first astronaut to enter the cabin. He found a burned-out nightmare. Rows of equipment and panels had been charred and covered in soot, debris was scattered everywhere. Hoses connecting the astronauts to their life support systems were melted. No matter where he looked, Borman could see no color, only grays and blacks.

That night, he joined Slayton and others at a restaurant in Cocoa Beach called The Mousetrap, a NASA haunt. Borman seldom drank to excess, but the smell of the scorched spacecraft needed bleaching, and he started in early. He raised toasts to his fallen brothers, then threw his glass into the fireplace. White was among the straightest arrows Borman had ever known—honest to a fault, a true patriot, and a man who didn’t mess around with the sports cars or fast women so readily available to astronauts. For both men, family came first. The Bormans and Whites often shared a house on a lake near Houston for fishing trips. Borman couldn’t remember missing someone as much as he missed Ed White that night.

Borman spent the next two months inside the burned spacecraft, studying the design, searching for flaws, making fixes in his mind. In April 1967, Congress held hearings into the cause of the fire, and Borman was called to testify.

Much of the questioning was aggressive and antagonistic, full of second-guesses and should-haves and pointed fingers, but Borman held firm, hiding nothing and acknowledging NASA’s responsibility, but never allowing congressmen to kick the agency just because it was down. He still ached for the loss of his friend, Ed White, but never allowed those emotions to spill into his report. Near the end of the hearings, he offered some of its most memorable testimony.

“We are trying to tell you that we are confident in our management, and in our engineering, and in ourselves,” Borman said. “I think the question is really: Are you confident in us?” A few days later, he told lawmakers, “Let’s stop the witch hunt and get on with it.” At NASA, it seemed there wasn’t a person, from the administrator to the janitors, who didn’t cheer him on. In the end, Congress took his advice and NASA continued on its mission to land men on the Moon.

Having survived the inquest, NASA approached Borman with an extraordinary offer: Take temporary leave from the astronaut program to head up the team tasked with implementing design changes to the command module. He accepted on the spot. He and others worked to make the new version of the capsule the most advanced, and safest, spacecraft ever built.

Borman could only hope there hadn’t been another tragedy as he landed his jet at Ellington Air Force Base and made his way to Slayton’s office. He suspected something unusual was afoot when he was asked to close the door behind him. Slayton addressed him without even sitting down:

“We just got word from the CIA that the Russians are planning a lunar fly-by before the end of the year. We want to change Apollo 8 from an Earth orbital to a lunar orbital flight. A lot has to come together. And Apollo 7 has to be perfect. But if it happens, Frank, do you want to go to the Moon?”

The idea startled Borman. Apollo 8 was meant to fly in December, just four months from now, but certainly not to the Moon. Apollo 8 was a conservative mission designed for low Earth orbit, perhaps at 125 miles altitude. It was one of several essential steps leading up to a manned lunar landing, hopefully before the end of 1969. Everything went in steps at NASA. Everything.

But Slayton meant exactly what he said. He wanted Borman to change missions and fly to the Moon. At a distance of 240,000 miles. In just sixteen weeks. Slayton didn’t discuss the fact that the lunar module couldn’t possibly be ready by then. He didn’t discuss any of the other myriad reasons NASA couldn’t be ready to fly men to the Moon by year’s end. In fact, Slayton gave very few additional details. He didn’t even ask if Borman cared to talk things over with his wife or crew.

Borman would have been justified in taking days, if not weeks, to consider such a proposition. And yet Slayton needed an answer, and he needed it now. Borman understood the urgency. If the Soviet Union sent men to the Moon first—even if those men didn’t land—it would score a major victory in the Space Race and deal a devastating blow in the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union. The mission Slayton was proposing would be exquisitely dangerous. But it also had the power to change history. Now, suddenly, it all depended on the decision of Frank Borman and his crew.

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Top reviews from the United States

Traci Medford-Rosow
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A journey into far more than space.
Reviewed in the United States on April 6, 2018
For me, Robert Kurson''s latest brilliant narrative nonfiction is not just a behind-the-scenes exploration of NASA, nor even of the nip-and-tuck race between the Americans and Russians to be the first to explore the moon, but rather a journey into the hearts and minds of... See more
For me, Robert Kurson''s latest brilliant narrative nonfiction is not just a behind-the-scenes exploration of NASA, nor even of the nip-and-tuck race between the Americans and Russians to be the first to explore the moon, but rather a journey into the hearts and minds of three extraordinary individuals, and in so doing, into our own. Kurson has taken his readers on both underwater and space adventures, all with riveting and compelling style. But as I read Rocket Men, I realized that the real journey Kurson was taking us on, perhaps even unwittingly, was into our own subconscious--into the question of what makes us all, in some measure or another, strive to explore against all odds of success, and often at great sacrifice, unchartered terrains. As I learned about Borman, Lovell and Anders, and their bravery, determination and devotion, I was left wondering what I would sacrifice for the chance to see my world from the outside looking in, and whether I would ultimately have the courage to do so.
40 people found this helpful
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Michael Craig
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An American Triumph, and a Storytelling Triumph
Reviewed in the United States on April 3, 2018
Robert Kurson is a master storyteller. In "Rocket Men," he tells the story of the Apollo 8 mission, the first spacecraft to approach the Moon as well as to disappear behind it. This adventure tale reads like something the reader is learning about first-hand. I felt... See more
Robert Kurson is a master storyteller. In "Rocket Men," he tells the story of the Apollo 8 mission, the first spacecraft to approach the Moon as well as to disappear behind it. This adventure tale reads like something the reader is learning about first-hand. I felt intimately connected to the personalities, the events, the most dramatic moments, and the risk and historic weight of the undertaking. Kurson has figured out just the right balance between amazingly detailed research and a seamless story that never feels stitched together out of hundreds of accounts, documents, etc.

If you''re not highly familiar with narratives about the space program, you will be amazed at this fascinating world. It''s a combination of (1) world geopolitical supremacy on the line, (2) the most advanced science in existence, (3) levels of unprecedented personal risk in the name of country-science-exploration, and (4) the rare kinds of people who become astronauts, live with being married to them, and are responsible for the decisions that determine the astronauts'' fate. This is storytelling on a par with Tom Wolfe''s "The Right Stuff," a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction about the earlier phase of the space program.

And if you have read books in this genre, you''re in for a lot of surprises. (No spoilers here.) It''s easy to imagine some drama out of the story of Apollo 11 (the first Moon landing) and Apollo 13 ("Houston, we have a problem ....") or the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters. But this story proves the point that, from the perspective of what''s going on IN THE STORY, every one of these missions was high on drama. Kurson''s telling of this story makes a compelling argument – even if you don''t agree with it, it makes wonderful reading – that Apollo 8 involved unprecedented stakes in the Space Race and the Cold War, and an unprecedented leap in risk combined with an uncharacteristic rush by NASA to put leapfrogging the USSR above caution.

"Rocket Men" is a story of an American triumph at a difficult moment in history. Appropriately, it''s also a storytelling triumph.
32 people found this helpful
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Gene Killian
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Awesome story of the mission that led directly to the moon landing
Reviewed in the United States on May 13, 2018
When I started this book, I thought, oh boy, this is just a rehash of The Right Stuff and Apollo 13. I’m so glad I stuck with it. The story of the science and personalities involved in this mission is mesmerizing. “Telegrams for the astronauts poured in by the... See more
When I started this book, I thought, oh boy, this is just a rehash of The Right Stuff and Apollo 13. I’m so glad I stuck with it. The story of the science and personalities involved in this mission is mesmerizing.

“Telegrams for the astronauts poured in by the thousands. One, however, stood out from the rest. It came not from a world leader or celebrity or other luminary, but from an anonymous stranger. It had traveled over whites-only lunch counters in the South, through jungles in Vietnam where young men fell, over the coffins of two of the America’s great civil rights leaders. It had blown across streets bloodied by protesters and police, past a segregationist presidential campaign, into radios playing songs of alienation and revolt. It had made its way through ten million American souls who didn’t have enough to eat, alongside generations that no longer trusted each other, into a White House where a no-longer-loved president slept.

It read: THANKS. YOU SAVED 1968.”
18 people found this helpful
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David R. Lyon
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Best Book Ever Written About Apollo 8
Reviewed in the United States on April 6, 2018
I just finished “Rocket Men”. It is a rare thing for me to sit and read a book in a few days but that is what I did with this wonderful book. I have read a lot of books about the space program and even about Apollo 8 to the point that I was not finding anything new or... See more
I just finished “Rocket Men”. It is a rare thing for me to sit and read a book in a few days but that is what I did with this wonderful book. I have read a lot of books about the space program and even about Apollo 8 to the point that I was not finding anything new or interesting anymore. However, "Rocket Men" is like a whole new story of Apollo 8 and I especially loved the new things I learned from it such as the story behind the picture of the execution from Vietnam, Bobby Kennedy, and other such tidbits that spiced up the adventure of Apollo 8. Telling the story of the three wives was intriguing. I had never read about Lovell’s mistake with the navigation. After all the space books I have read I can honestly say that this is absolutely one of the very best ever produced.
26 people found this helpful
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gammyjill
5.0 out of 5 starsVine Customer Review of Free Product
A look at a bit of the US space race...
Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2017
Robert Kurson''s excellent look at the 1968 voyage of Apollo 8, "Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8", has already received excellent reviews on Amazon, so I can add very little. However, I will say that the writing is low-key but compelling as Kurson writes... See more
Robert Kurson''s excellent look at the 1968 voyage of Apollo 8, "Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8", has already received excellent reviews on Amazon, so I can add very little. However, I will say that the writing is low-key but compelling as Kurson writes about the politics, the people, and the history of the United States space program. He also details the race - what we knew was happening - between the US and the USSR. The Soviet launch of a moon rocket forced the United States to put forward the Apollo 8 flight well before schedule, so we could go to the moon and circle it. Not actually land - that came later - but to circle it. Even though I know the turnout, I really kept expecting things to fail spectacularly.

This is a book for any armchair historian and/or science junkie. I also think it would make a great Audible book and I''ve already preordered the Audible version at the good price of $14.
27 people found this helpful
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AReader
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Taut, Dynamic, Thrilling, and True.
Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2018
Half a century ago, humans first ventured out of earth orbit and to the moon. But it wasn’t on Apollo 11. First came Apollo 8, an audacious leap forward in human exploration, as spacefarers orbited the moon for the very first time, looked down upon its barren and ancient... See more
Half a century ago, humans first ventured out of earth orbit and to the moon. But it wasn’t on Apollo 11. First came Apollo 8, an audacious leap forward in human exploration, as spacefarers orbited the moon for the very first time, looked down upon its barren and ancient surface, and glimpsed our home planet as a tiny bright oasis in the blackness of space.

It is not easy to convey how important this mission was, as it has generally been overshadowed by the Apollo 11 moon landing half a year later. Robert Kurson’s Rocket Men does this story justice. Not only does he describe the mission, we learn about the remarkable people who flew the spacecraft, the risk that NASA managers took to push this flight up the schedule, and the wider story of a nation at a moment of traumatic self-doubt and inner turmoil.

The drama of each moment of the mission is conveyed in taut, muscular and dynamic writing that had me eager to know the next moment, even though history already knows how the mission ended. It would have been all too easy to overdo the tension, but Kurson instead clearly conveys what the dangers truly were – it is never overdone.

We are fortunate to live in an era when the first people to truly leave earth are still around and were able to relate their mission to Robert Kurson. You’d be unfortunate to miss the chance to read it.
5 people found this helpful
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The Helmsman
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great read, especially in 2018
Reviewed in the United States on July 6, 2018
Part political/techno thriller, part family drama, and part grand adventure story, this is a tightly written and fascinating account of a singular, defining event in human history. All the elements of a great historical fiction are here, but the state of the world at that... See more
Part political/techno thriller, part family drama, and part grand adventure story, this is a tightly written and fascinating account of a singular, defining event in human history. All the elements of a great historical fiction are here, but the state of the world at that time was dramatic enough and needs no embellishment. Instead, Kurston expertly weaves a tale of a nation in turmoil and a group of individuals who, down to the very last of them, were placed just as they needed to be at that particular moment in history in order to accomplish one of mankind''s greatest triumphs.

This is a story of an epic voyage into what then was truly unknown. It would not have been possible without the rare combination of ferocious competence, grim determination, unshakable devotion, and nerves of absolute steel that were manifest not only in the three crewmembers of Apollo 8, but also in their management, their support structure, and especially their families.

Together, they saw the immensity of the challenge that lay before them, and with skill, perseverance, and daring in equal measure, they pulled off an incredible feat that the country, and indeed the entire world, desperately needed. And it is to us, 50 years later, living in a similarly troubled and divided but perhaps more risk-averse world, to rise to meet the challenges we face, as they did. The story of Apollo 8 is, above all else, a tale of hope. If we can get to the moon, we can do anything.
7 people found this helpful
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Angela
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Well written and informative piece of history.
Reviewed in the United States on December 6, 2019
I don’t read very many nonfiction books and I haven’t listened to many audiobooks, but I’m sure that this one will remain one of my favorites in both categories. Before I listened to this book, when I thought of space missions and the moon, I thought of the moon landing... See more
I don’t read very many nonfiction books and I haven’t listened to many audiobooks, but I’m sure that this one will remain one of my favorites in both categories. Before I listened to this book, when I thought of space missions and the moon, I thought of the moon landing and Apollo 11 - the planting of the American flag, Neil Armstrong’s comment “....one giant step for mankind.” While I remember Apollo 8, I had no idea of it’s importance in laying the groundwork for future missions. While I always thought that astronauts as a group were brave, I never really thought about their individual stories, their personalities, the affect on their families, especially their spouses, the intense training or what went into preparing for their mission. Even though I knew the efforts of NASA to prepare, plan, build, test and manage from mission control had to be enormous, I never gave it a lot of thought. I didn’t think a lot about the historical context of these space missions. All of that changed in such an impactful way for me while listening to this absolutely amazing account.

I was captivated by the intimate look that I got of the crew - Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, how they grew up and became astronauts, how they met and fell in love with their wives, how their wives were impacted by what their husbands were doing, the sacrifice of family time. The wives of these men deserve a lot of credit and are heroes in their own right. Their personal stories are moving. I was on the edge of my seat as Kurson so skillfully gave me “a sense of being there”. I was surprised that some of the technical and scientific parts were made understandable and interesting and amazed at the scope of things that went into making decisions.

The way the mission is brought into historical context is simply stunning. I hung on every word as the picture is painted of a fractured time in American history with events that I remember- the race to space with Russia, John Kennedy’s dream of landing on the moon, the Vietnam war, civil rights protests, race riots , demonstrations in Chicago, unrest in the country, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. This book doesn’t just tell us about Apollo 8, it tells the story of our nation in 1968.

I loved the Epilogue finding out what the crew did afterwards and where they were in their lives at the time of the 50th anniversary of the mission. I very much appreciated the author’s note in his own voice, how he was inspired to write this book. Kurson’s research is extensive including time spent with Borman, Lovell, Anders , people from NASA, reading a multitude of documents, watching videos and so much more. This is a story of extraordinary men and their families, an extraordinary event in history. The narration by Ray Porter is absolutely wonderful. I just purchased a hard copy for my husband.
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Top reviews from other countries

Billy Blair
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Real insight into Apollo 8 mission
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 15, 2018
Great details on the 3 men involved and the risk taken with this mission; NASA were really asking these astronauts to put their lives on the line in order to beat the Ruskies! I found the book a real page turner (some of these accounts can be quite dry). Liked the fact that...See more
Great details on the 3 men involved and the risk taken with this mission; NASA were really asking these astronauts to put their lives on the line in order to beat the Ruskies! I found the book a real page turner (some of these accounts can be quite dry). Liked the fact that the wives and families were also described and how they coped with the public attention/stress. A great read.
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Superb book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 17, 2019
Reveals a lot about how and why Apollo 8 was so important and the astronauts who took the first loop around the Moon, just about as dangerous as the Apollo 11 mission. Well written and enlightening.
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Julia G
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
More of the story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 16, 2018
I know a lot about the Apollo 11 and 13 missions but without Apollo 8 these would not have happened. This is a great read that tells you more about the race to the moon and the particular stories of the brave astronauts who were the first to the moon.
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Gonch888
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Space travel : A hard task.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 16, 2019
A warts and all account. You can sense the moments of tension as I did when watching the BBC space broadcasts n the 60’s featuring Sir Patrick Moore and James Burke,
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John Barlow
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Another good read by this author.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 27, 2019
I purchased this book having really enjoyed other books by this author. I was not disappointed as this is another very good read.
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