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A great book which gives a voice, after 30 years,to one of the lesser known Apollo astronauts.
First, Amazon, I don't know where you get your 192 pages from. It is a lot shorter than that at closer to 140 pages and that includes Susie Eisele Black's (excellent) afterword and Amy Shira Teitel's historical overview. The Eisele manuscript is only 118 pages long.
Francis has done a great job bringing this book to print in as unchanged fashion as he has. Without giving anything away, Eisele is very candid in his feelings toward Apollo management and also other astronauts, but his main venom is reserved for senior Apollo management, exacerbated by the "preventable" Apollo 1 fire. He mentions late in the book that most astronauts had a dislike for management. He doesn't go into astro-politics as much as one would have thought, but his views on some named astronauts are very clear,
Some overview points: First, his views are very raw, and seem to have been penned while emotions were still high. It is indicated later in the book by others that the book was written over different periods probably in the 1972-6 timeframe, so not long after Eisele left NASA and the USAF. I get the impression that if Eisele had completed this book while alive, much of the venom would have been edited out, either by Eisele due to the passage of time, or by his editor. So, it may have become a much more dull book.
Second, there are now three first hand accounts of Apollo 7 (Schirra's "Schirra's Space", Cunningham's "The All American Boys" and of course Apollo Pilot), so we get an interesting comparison of each astronaut's view of the others during the mission. That is interesting because Cunningham basically wrote that Eisele was a "follower" who got (badly) influenced by his dominant Commander and copied his abrasive behavior in training and in space, without necessarily having good reason to do so. (Eisele counters this at one point by saying he would rather have been abrasive, got the job done and lived to tell the tale than "be remembered for what a nice guy he was"). Both Eisele and Cunningham were critical of Schirra, but Eisele adopted a largely neutral (if not favourable) view of Cunningham. Eisele is particularly critical of Schirra's laid-back approach and his dis-interest in and unfamiliarity with the technical aspects of Apollo 7.
Third, Susie Eisele Black's Afterword is excellent, and gives a good insight into how Eisele's divorce was treated (from her perspective). Frankly, I wish this part of the book had been a lot longer, as it was truly fascinating.
As short as the book is, it does contain a lot of detail, and it is worth reading. The book does a very good job of giving a voice to one of the lesser known of the Group 3 astronauts.
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