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  Which Gus Grissom biography is the best?

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Author Topic:   Which Gus Grissom biography is the best?
mdmyer
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From: Humboldt KS USA
Registered: Dec 2003

posted 04-14-2004 07:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mdmyer   Click Here to Email mdmyer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What Gus Grissom biography is considered to be the best. I know there are several but the two I am thinking about are "Seven Minus One" and "Starfall". Of course "Starfall" was co-written by Betty Grissom. Does that make "Starfall" the better book?

Does anyone know if the co-author of "Starfall", Henry Still, is related to the Russell Still that wrote "Relics of the Space Race"?

Are there other Gus Grissom biographies that would be worth the read?

Laura
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posted 04-24-2004 09:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Laura   Click Here to Email Laura     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are several Grissom biographies out there, but most of them aren't the best that they could be. Here's a list of the ones that I know about:
  1. "Seven Minus One." This one contains some good information about his childhood. I have to warn you that Carl Chappell isn't the greatest writer in the world, and that some of the attempts at prose might make you snicker. Chappell lived in Mitchell, Indiana, Gus' hometown, so I guess it could be considered a Mitchell citizen's viewpoint of Gus.

  2. "Starfall." I am dying to read this, and I envy everyone who has a copy. I've heard that the prose is weak, but I'm sure that it contains a lot of information about Grissom, especially his family. It's pretty expensive; most of the used-book sites sell it for $200 and up. (This is a little astronomical for students like myself.)

  3. Mary Zornio wrote a great biography of Grissom for the NASA History Office's website. While it isn't book-sized (it's about thirteen pages when printed out), it's still a detailed portrait of the man.

  4. Gus Grissom's book "Gemini!" isn't a autobiography per se, but it captures his personality. I liked this book; although it was ghostwritten, it's told with humor and spirit, and it feels like Grissom is telling you a story. There isn't a ton of biographical information, but it's a good read.

  5. Curt Newport devoted a significant amount of space in his recent book to telling Gus' story. He did a great job with it, although I think he got a lot of the information from "Seven Minus One." But Newport's take is original: for example, I loved his comparison of Gus Grissom and the Grissom character on "CSI." (It worked, too!)

  6. "The Kids' Books": There have been about three of these written about Gus; but, obviously, these aren't going to be that encompassing. There's one by Carmen Bredeson, which I read about four years ago, and I think a new one by a different author just came out. One thing, though: Do NOT expose a child to the book "Virgil I Grissom, Boy Astronaut", by Carl Chappell. This book was HILARIOUS for a thirteen-year-old to read because the dialogue was horrible, and because Chappell wrote about the weirdest situations. (One mental image, forever seared in my mind, is of a young Gus Grissom running through his backyard screaming "THEEE! THEEE!" at a blue jay.) Chappell used this book as a vanity vehicle for Mitchell, Indiana; so Gus Grisson's nostalgic childhood adventures include (I swear) visiting a school bus factory and visiting a limestone quarry. One recurring theme is that Gus became a hero, despite the fact that he was short; so in all the drawings, Gus is at least a foot smaller than all the other kids. (He's lucky if he comes up to an elbow.) This book is great entertainment, but it doesn't give you that much information.
I hope this helped!

FFrench
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From: San Diego
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posted 04-24-2004 09:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for that amusing and informative reply! I have a copy of Starfall, and while I haven't read it for many years, I remember it being a very illuminating read. Tom Wolfe certainly seemed to use it as a major source work for The Right Stuff.

mdmyer
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From: Humboldt KS USA
Registered: Dec 2003

posted 04-25-2004 07:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mdmyer   Click Here to Email mdmyer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Laura:
"Starfall." I am dying to read this, and I envy everyone who has a copy. I've heard that the prose is weak, but I'm sure that it contains a lot of information about Grissom, especially his family.
That is the one I was wanting an opinion on. I had just found a hardback with a good dust cover copy of Starfall that is not an ex-library that was listed in very good condition and it had the inscription "To Ed and Marge. Thanks for a warm and wonderful friendship. Hank and Charlene". Then signed and dated "Henry Still 11/22/74"

The book dealer only wanted 50$ for it and I felt that I could not let it go so I purchased it. I received the book last week and I have started to read it but I am only 10 pages into the book.

It should be a good one.

Thanks for the information on the other books. I also own Gemini by Gus Grissom and it is a good book. While it may be a ghost written book it does seem to carry the style that someone would expect from Gus himself.

Tykeanaut
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From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 09-01-2011 08:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am considering buying a copy of "Lost Astronaut". Any comments and opinions on this biography would be very much appreciated.

Tyler
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From: Auburn, Alabama, United States
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posted 09-01-2011 09:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tyler   Click Here to Email Tyler     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have read Ray Boomhower's book Gus Grissom: The Lost Astronaut. The level of detail and analysis is certainly far below First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong (easily the best astronaut biography), but still considered it a solid biography. The author interviewed several of Grissom's colleagues from Indiana and the astronaut corps. He included several new details about Grissom's parents, school experience, and even about the career paths he considered pursuing just prior to his death.

Americans often remember Grissom for only two events: the sinking of Liberty Bell 7 and the Apollo 1 fire. Then many Americans remember him for his less than favorable depiction in the movie The Right Stuff. But the simple truth is that his colleagues treated him with the ultimate trust, so much so that fellow astronauts nicknamed the Gemini spacecraft the "Gusmobile." This book recaptures that.

FFrench
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Posts: 3093
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 09-03-2011 10:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found "Lost Astronaut" to be a solid read that accomplished exactly what it set out to describe. Yes, worth a read. Boggs SpaceBooks sold author-signed copies at one time - don't know if they still have any.

spaceman1953
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Posts: 933
From: South Bend, IN United States of America
Registered: Apr 2002

posted 09-08-2011 09:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yeah, I would think you would pick up Boomhowers' book since it is recently published and by the Indiana State Library Press. He came to speak at the local museum a couple of years ago, already, and freely answered our questions about the process and what he was working on next.

Boomhower has written several "Indiana" books, being from nearby Mishawaka and seemed to be "a pretty good egg", as my friend and late brothers' friend Jerry would say!

All times are CT (US)

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