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  Astronauts who need to write books

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Author Topic:   Astronauts who need to write books
mjanovec
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posted 04-04-2007 07:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With nearly every early astronaut having written a book (and John Young currently working on one), what significant gaps are there... who most needs to write a book who hasn't done so?

The guy I'd really like to see write a book is Jim McDivitt... not only did he command two very important missions, he spent time in management during a very critical era. Plus, he seems like he'd be a great story teller.

Who else needs to write their memoirs? I suppose an obvious answer is Neil Armstrong, but I assume that James Hansen's book is the closest we'll ever get to an Armstrong autobiography (since it was authorized).

FutureAstronaut
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posted 04-04-2007 07:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FutureAstronaut   Click Here to Email FutureAstronaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I personally would like to see one from Eileen Collins in the future. Vance Brand would also have nice book.

MCroft04
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posted 04-05-2007 12:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dick Gordon would be a great addition. And while Alan Bean's book is great, there's definielty room for a book describing his NASA experiences. I like Al Worden's book of poems, but like Captain Bean there's room for his personal story. Bill Anders? I'd sure enjoy reading these books.

Richard
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posted 04-05-2007 12:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard   Click Here to Email Richard     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with the earlier suggestions. Unfortunately, however, I think that in all reality, it will be Nowak who will have the next book out by an astronaut.

nasamad
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posted 04-05-2007 12:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd love to see a book from Engle. I'd like to hear how it was to fly the X-15, train for an Apollo flight and get bumped on the last lap, and then fly the shuttle. He was at NASA during a great era and must have many tales to tell!

Naraht
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posted 04-05-2007 01:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Naraht   Click Here to Email Naraht     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's not just astronauts who need to write books. Having read the memoirs of Chris Kraft and Gene Kranz, I'd really like to see a similar volume by Glynn Lunney.

ea757grrl
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posted 04-05-2007 06:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by nasamad:
I'd love to see a book from Engle. I'd like to hear how it was to fly the X-15...
If you can get your hands on the X-15 DVD set from Spacecraft Films, there's some footage from the 30th Anniversary celebration at Ames, and some of the principals in the X-15 program take the podium and tell stories. The five or six minutes of "Joe Engle Unplugged" are worth the entire purchase price of the DVD set. He had me and Ralph in stitches, we were laughing so hard. The guy not only has stories to tell, he can entertain while telling them!

icarkie
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posted 04-05-2007 08:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for icarkie   Click Here to Email icarkie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MCroft04:
Dick Gordon would be a great addition.
I asked Cpt Gordon this question the other year at the Autographica here in the UK. He smiled and said "who would want to read it".

I told him you'd be surprised how many people would go out and buy it.

Personally if he did write an auto bio I think it would be a great read. (I hope he does one day.)

Gilbert
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posted 04-05-2007 08:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gilbert   Click Here to Email Gilbert     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think Fred Haise would have an interesting story to tell.

Peter S
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posted 04-05-2007 09:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peter S   Click Here to Email Peter S     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
(and John Young currently working on one)
I had been wondering about that, and wanted to know if he was, in fact writing it? Anyone know how far along it is?

BMckay
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posted 04-05-2007 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BMckay   Click Here to Email BMckay     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apollo, I'd like to see Dick Gordon write a book. Shuttle, Robert "Hoot" Gibson.

Some great stories are still out there to be told.

Rick Mulheirn
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posted 04-05-2007 09:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am sure I read somewhere that Young had completed a draft copy of his autobiography.

bruce
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posted 04-05-2007 10:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bruce   Click Here to Email bruce     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dick Gordon, definitely.

Matt T
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posted 04-05-2007 11:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rusty Schweickart. Most things I've read that were spoken or written by Rusty have been worth the reading. Plus with no McDivitt book likely (he poured cold water on the suggestion when I asked a few years ago) and Scott only briefly addressing it there is no good first-hand account of Apollo 9.

Dwayne Day
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posted 04-05-2007 12:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think we really need many more astronaut books. What would be useful is an overall review of the books already written, identifying common themes and differences.

mdmyer
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posted 04-05-2007 12:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mdmyer   Click Here to Email mdmyer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was under the impression that Al Worden was writing one.

mjanovec
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posted 04-05-2007 05:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dwayne Day:
I don't think we really need many more astronaut books. What would be useful is an overall review of the books already written, identifying common themes and differences.

I have to respectfully disagree. For every 10 astronauts, there are 10 sets of opinions, viewpoints, and personal stories that are unique to each individual. Granted, not everyone needs to read every astronaut book out there.

If someone had told me a couple years ago that Mike Mullane was writing a book, I probably wouldn't have been that excited. But having read Riding Rockets, I can say that it's one of my favorite astronaut books in print. It certainly changed my view of the early shuttle program.

I agree with what others have said...a Dick Gordon book would be nice to have! Too bad Pete Conrad never got around to writing one.

E2M Lem Man
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posted 04-05-2007 06:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wish that some of the early guys would go "Unplugged".

I have read old newspaper articles about some of the guys "hanging out" with Sinatra and the troubles they got out of, about T-38 racing and running out of fuel, the "secretaries pool" and the parties- but they all want to be heroes and not tell their REAL stories.

"The All American Boys" was the closest any of them ever got.

kosmonavtka
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posted 04-05-2007 07:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmonavtka     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sergei Krikalyov! (if you include cosmonauts)

KC Stoever
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posted 04-05-2007 08:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would be difficult for any of the early guys to write a first-person "unplugged" account. (And I'm not sure "unplugged" is apposite here. These were not acoustic lives.) Tom Wolfe's gonzo account comes closest to capturing the, um, gusto with which everyone went at it. And agree that "All American Boys" was a good candid account.

But some stuff you just can't write about. Or you can, but then you're sorry.

This happens all the time with books and writing. One could dump EVERYTHING he knows. Everything. Into a book manuscript. But what of the poor reader? What of art? What of story-telling? One runs the risk of losing the reader — unless you're Tom Wolfe and you know what you're doing.

If I understand his post, I like Dwayne Day's idea of a book that analyzes the literature from a historiographical perspective. It would look at narratives, themes, sourcing (do authors resort to the "some say"? dodge, or do they cite reputable primary and secondary sources?), and tone. Gawd, and cliches.

Who is doing the writing? Why? When were the books written in relation to the events about which they write?

The Wikipedia's bibliography under Project Mercury is VERY weak in this regard — in that it doesn't have a good critical sense of the literature. But I guess that's another thread.

tegwilym
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posted 04-06-2007 03:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by E2M Lem Man:
I wish that some of the early guys would go "Unplugged".
Not an early guy, but Mike Mullane sure pulled the plugs in his book. Great fun to read! I think it's no. 2 on my list up near "Carrying the Fire."

KC Stoever
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posted 04-06-2007 04:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Pulling the plug... unplugged?

Can we have a ruling, please, on usage and meaning of these terms?

I understand the former to mean "ending life support" and the latter to mean "an acoustic-instrument musical performance" (because the amplifiers are unplugged).

I think "to pull out all the stops" works in the sense of "all out" or disinhibited writing. But if you "pull your punches" it means you're holding back.

ColinBurgess
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posted 04-06-2007 05:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kris, I'm hope you're not just pulling my leg, even though some people on this forum need to start pulling their weight a bit more.

Seriously, I was wondering about the origin of "pulling out all the stops." Somewhere in the dark, trivial recesses of my mind I have an idea that this relates to the old theatre organs, where I believe doing this swells the music. Does anyone know for sure? Sorry... a bit off-topic, but I'm curious.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-06-2007 05:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ColinBurgess:
Somewhere in the dark, trivial recesses of my mind I have an idea that this relates to the old theatre organs...
Indeed. (what did we do before Google?)

ColinBurgess
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posted 04-06-2007 05:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Robert; it's still reassuring to know that the old grey matter can still conjure up a correct answer faster than by Googling.

AstroAutos
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posted 10-18-2012 08:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Having met Dick Gordon at Autographica, and after interviewing him and attending his very interesting lecture, I wonder is there any more of a chance now (since it's been 5 years since this topic started) that Captain Gordon will pen his memoirs?

They sure would be extremely popular!

albatron
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posted 10-18-2012 01:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by FutureAstronaut:
I personally would like to see one from Eileen Collins in the future.
With this thread resurrected, and recently having shared a table and quite a bit of time with Eileen Collins recently, I am more convinced than ever this is one that needs to be written.

You never get enough of a chance to speak about things of import with them in a public setting (too many how did you go to the bathroom in space questions when you're trying to talk about RTLS aborts) and believe me, she has a ton to share from a very unique perspective.

When we weren't sitting in a banquet she dazzled me considerably.

cspg
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posted 10-18-2012 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by albatron:
(...)she has a ton to share from a very unique perspective.

And so did John Young...

Astronauts should write about their astronaut experience(s). For the rest I don't think every astronaut(or person) is interested in telling their childhood memories, eventhough it would be a must for their families.

john ffoulkes
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posted 10-18-2012 04:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for john ffoulkes   Click Here to Email john ffoulkes     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dick Gordon told me that he was indeed gathering information together in preparation for writing an autobiography, when I posed the question to him at Autographica last weekend.

I asked if he was being serious and he said he was. I guess we will just have to wait and see.

jvertrees
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posted 10-18-2012 05:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jvertrees   Click Here to Email jvertrees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are a couple of missions with weak prime crew accounts as mentioned above. Those need to be filled. I think a fascinating account would have to be Dee O'Hara. She was there for all of them M-G-A & Skylab. Maybe our man Francis French is already working on that one.

I personally am not interested in a “no holds barred”, “unplugged”, or “pulling out the stops” version. It would be mostly gossip, potentially hurtful to family and most likely not add to telling the history of the program. I’m sure most did what they were supposed to and aren’t too flawed in their personal lives. However, unless the transgressions or offences somehow came into the missions or work, they don't add too the history. In Al Worden’s book by Francis it touches on strained personal relationships. Some patched up today, some not so much. There really isn’t a historical need to open those chapters in full. In Al Worden’s book they are there to the extent they need to be for an accurate account. In editing a Skylab book recently there were also some early versions of the text that included some of those stories as well. I never edited those out, the author eventually did. If they didn’t help tell the story they where “unplugged” (sorry Kris, couldn’t help myself.)

There are many stories out there about Jack Swigert’s dating habits. Some funny but they don’t really add to the overall story of what was accomplished. To write Swigert’s story and focus on being an astronaut bachelor in play would totally dismiss the importance of his true contributions and not give you a portrait of the whole man. I also think of Jim & Marilyn Lovell packing to move and Capt. Lovell discovering his children’s hospital records that he knew nothing about. It told us a lot of the sacrifices made but do we need to hear about every school play, game or race that was missed? Every child hurt because they didn’t understand why Dad wasn’t home a lot? We had Opie Cunningham add a crew argument into the Service Capsule of Apollo 13 that apparently never happened. Ron Howard said it was necessary to add spice to the scene. True enough, getting lost in space not knowing if your capsule blew up and if you’re going to make it home happens every day and needs some artistic help to hold interest! For those few who strayed and brought “dates” to the astronaut beach house, I’m sure most regret it today and would want a do over if possible. Dr. Duane Graveline, one of the original science astronauts resigned almost as soon as he was selected because his wife filed for divorce at the same time. He thought he would never get a flight. Clearly by his many contributions to the program as a non-astronaut scientist he would have added a lot to a mission by being on board.

I’d like future accounts to go largely by the formats that have been established. Mike Mullane, Walt Cunningham and Gene Cernan all have more candid and very good, yet still largely respectful accounts. Scott Carpenter, John Glenn and Mike Collins took a different path but still have plenty of color and humanity into their stories. Mike Mullane and Bill Pogue also have done a great job of collecting all those "bathroom" question and answers that many want to know. If fact both their Q&A books are among the better selling of all first hand astronaut accounts. Many like Joe Allen, Jay Apt, Tom Jones and Story Musgrave have outstanding photo books that also add a rich layer to the history.

A couple of years ago I heard Scott Carpenter give a presentation in Kansas City, MO. His daughter Kris was there and mentioned she was doing research at that time on the selecting of the Mercury Seven. I think Colin Burgess has done a great job with that so maybe her project is off now. But she did use a term I’ve never heard before. She called herself a “NASA brat.” I would like to see a gifted writer like Kris meet up with several other of her “NASA brat” friends and tell their story then as much as they remember, and also from now, that they have grown and understand more fully the importance of their fathers work.

I still believe there is plenty of room for more first hand accounts from those who still have not told their story. Some will be duds and not add to feeding our curiosity at all, but I am just as confident that talented group of men and women have another Carrying the Fire, Riding Rockets, All American Boys, Falling to Earth, Lost Moon, Last Man on the Moon or But for the Grace of God waiting to hit the press.

p51
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posted 10-18-2012 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I find it funny how many 'dream books' were knocked around at the start of this thread which have now been written and are out there to read.

Ask, and ye shall receive!

alanh_7
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posted 10-18-2012 07:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hoot Gibson. I asked him two years ago at the ASF diner when he was going to write his book and he thought about it a second and said "it could only get me in trouble"

Fezman92
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posted 10-18-2012 07:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would like to see the remaining final shuttle crews write their autobiographies.

stsmithva
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posted 10-18-2012 08:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Second the idea of a "NASA brat" book being an interesting read, and who would author it well.

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