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Author Topic:   Book recommendations: Apollo Program
Castel
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From: Carmel, CA
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posted 07-14-2008 08:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Castel   Click Here to Email Castel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am looking for an enjoyable read that will enlighten me on the Apollo program. I know there are many to choose from and I am curious as to cS member's favorites. Specific areas I am interested in are the Apollo 1 fire, the process involved in choosing Neil Armstrong as the first man to walk on the moon and the Apollo 13 rescue. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

cspg
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From: Geneva, Switzerland
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posted 07-14-2008 09:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"A Man of the Moon" by Andrew Chaikin would be my first pick. And if you can get the three-volume superbly illustrated Time-Life edition the better.

kr4mula
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From: Cinci, OH
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posted 07-14-2008 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Chaikin's book is great for the astronaut perspective. If you want to learn about the flight controllers and engineering guys (and management), it's hard to beat Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox's "Apollo, the Race to the Moon." That was getting very scarce for years until they finally re-issued it in paperback recently.

Mr Meek
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From: Chattanooga, TN
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posted 07-14-2008 11:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr Meek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gene Kranz' "Failure Is Not an Option" is also an excellent book. In my opinion, the best chapters in the book are the ones covering the Apollo 1 fire and Apollo 13 accident.

Philip
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From: Brussels, Belgium
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posted 07-14-2008 12:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA SP-350 and the 6 NASA SP-books entitled Preliminary Science Report of Apollo...

The first chapter in the latter books is a superb overview of the Apollo mission in the title!

GoesTo11
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From: Denver, CO USA
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posted 07-14-2008 12:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For me, Chaikin's "A Man on the Moon" and Murray & Cox's "Apollo" remain unsurpassed...I strongly recommend starting with them. I have nothing to add to the praise of these works by other members here. I will say that I refuse to recommend one over the other...I've always felt that they complement each other perfectly: "A Man on the Moon" tells the story primarily from the astronauts' perspective, and "Apollo" concentrates on the recollections of the engineers, designers, controllers, and managers who made the whole thing happen. Both books are full of epic stories recounted by great storytellers, and put to the page by writers more than up to the task.

P.S. "A Man on the Moon" was recently re-issued in paperback with a new afterword, so it should be easy to find. I bought "Apollo" directly from the authors when it was re-issued, but I see it's now available new on Amazon.com.

medaris
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From: United Kingdom
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posted 07-14-2008 01:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for medaris   Click Here to Email medaris     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd endorse the recommendations of both 'Apollo' and 'A Man on the Moon'. Boggs Space Books still had signed copies of the paperback re-issue of 'Apollo' at list price, the last time I looked.

The flight controller books listed above are both well worth reading. I'd add 'Moondust' by Andrew Smith to the list. I remember that some collectSPACE members didn't like it, but I enjoyed the interviews.

KSCartist
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From: Titusville, FL USA
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posted 07-14-2008 06:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would add "Deke" by Slayton and Michael Cassutt. No better way to understand who was chosen for each mission and why.

E2M Lem Man
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From: Los Angeles CA. USA
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posted 07-14-2008 10:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with all the above- and they are all here near my workdesk- but I want to add David's "How Apollo flew to the Moon" as a superb and easy to understand Nuts- and- Bolts book about How Apollo worked.

fabfivefreddy
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posted 07-14-2008 11:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fabfivefreddy   Click Here to Email fabfivefreddy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with the above suggestions. Here are my thoughts:
  • A Man on the Moon by Chaikin
  • Carrying the Fire by Collins
  • First Man by Hansen

lm5eagle
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posted 07-15-2008 02:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for lm5eagle   Click Here to Email lm5eagle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Carrying The Fire" by Michael Collins is a must for a list such as this. It is arguably the best account ever written by one of the Apollo astronauts.

mdmyer
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From: Humboldt KS USA
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posted 07-15-2008 07:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mdmyer   Click Here to Email mdmyer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Lost Moon" by Jim Lovell has an excellent account of the Apollo 1 fire and of course the story of Apollo 13. This book was later re-released as Apollo 13.

Kite
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Posts: 231
From: Northampton UK
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posted 06-05-2010 04:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I completely agree with 'A Man on the Moon' and 'Apollo, The Race to the Moon' as the two essential reading for anyone interested in manned space flight.

However I did feel that the latter seemed to skip through the later voyages after Apollo 13 without as much detail as the earlier flights which may have been due to its title which was more concerned with the race which was already won. Does anyone agree with me on that point although it is still an outstanding book?

The third choice for me would be 'Deke' although 'Lost Moon/Apollo 13' runs it close. All the autobiographies and biographies of astronauts, cosmonauts, flight directors and controllers are well worth collecting as reading sometimes the same events from different viewpoints is very interesting.

Having spoke to Jim McDivitt at Autographica last month after his talk I asked if he would write one and he replied that he would not write his autobiography, which is a pity as he expressed some very blunt opinions of his in time as an astronaut and manager in Apollo. That is his decision and I respect it.

328KF
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posted 06-05-2010 07:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While not a single book, the Outward Odyssey series covers Mercury up through Apollo Soyuz quite well. Into That Silent Sea, In the Shadow of the Moon, and the recently released Footprints in the Dust cover all of the early misssions, and the latest title was authored by several of us cS'ers on this forum.

Another book in the series, Homesteading Space is a brilliantly written story about the Skylab program, which several moonwalkers and those who might have been participated in. Alan Bean's in-flight diary of Skylab 2 provides great insight throughout the story.

Having said that, the titles mentioned previously are among the best! First Man, while considered a little dry, was a long-awaited and most important contribution to the Apollo legacy. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I think most here would agree that to get a more complete picture of the program, one needs to take a look at several of these titles to see the moon program from multiple perspectives.

MB
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From: Olmsted Falls, Ohio U.S.A.
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 06-05-2010 08:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MB   Click Here to Email MB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would highly recommend these three books if you would like a good overview of the Apollo program from three different perspectives:

A Man on the Moon - Andy Chaikin (Astronaut Perspective)

Apollo, The Race to the Moon - Charles Murray & Catherine Bly Fox (Engineer's Perspective

To a Rocky Moon - Don E. Wilhelms (Geologist's perspective in lunar science and site selection)

Pat Gleeson
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Posts: 44
From: Limerick, Ireland
Registered: Aug 2009

posted 06-06-2010 06:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Pat Gleeson   Click Here to Email Pat Gleeson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by lm5eagle:
"Carrying The Fire" by Michael Collins is a must for a list such as this. It is arguably the best account ever written by one of the Apollo astronauts.
I would agree with that 100% - a superb read. Collins' humour and keen intellect are evident throughout the book, making it one of the more accessible and enjoyable reads.
I would also recommend (as others have):
  • A Man on the Moon - Andrew Chaikin
  • The Unbroken Chain - Guenter Wendt
  • Failure is not an Option - Gene Krantz
  • Flight - Chris Kraft
  • Apollo - Murray & Cox
  • Chariots for Apollo - Courtney, Grimwood, Swenson (NASA Publication)*
  • Moonport - Benson , Faherty (NASA Publication)*
* Available online at NASA - quite technical but make absorbing reading, published quite soon after the events they depict.

GoesTo11
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From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 06-06-2010 01:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd add that Chariots for Apollo was recently republished in paperback by Dover Publications, and Moonport, as well as the companion volume Moon Lauch, are also available in paperback from the University of Florida Press. All highly recommended and available through Amazon and most other booksellers.

GoesTo11
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Posts: 1025
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 06-06-2010 04:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm going to court controversy here and add Norman Mailer's Moonfire as a must-have addition to the Apollo literary canon. (To be clear, I'm referring to the mass-market hardcover release, not the "big" limited edition or the boutique lunar meteorite production.)

This book is simply spectacular. It still boggles my mind that Taschen issued this at $39.99...I've paid over twice that for far less impressive books. The quality of production is such that many illustrations seem almost three-dimensional. The only other book on the subject I can think of even approaching this quality is Michael Light's Full Moon (put that on your list as well).

As for the prose (and this is aside from the in-depth, informed captions accompanying every illustration), I will say first of all that I am not, generally speaking, a fan of Mailer as a writer. I've read several of his works besides Of a Fire on the Moon, and I tend to find his writing egotistical, self-indulgent, meandering, and freighted with all the stylistic and ideological baggage that characterizes the New Journalism of his peak in the late 1960s and early 1970s (though it should be remembered that the same school also gave us The Right Stuff.)

Thankfully, the text reprinted in Moonfire has been stripped of most of that baggage, which made Of a Fire on the Moon such a morass through which one had to wade to find insight. Instead, this book showcases Mailer's undeniable prescience and powers of observation, and his gift for giving resonance to both the most minute details of his experience covering the flight of Apollo 11, and conveying the "epicness" of the whole endeavor. His account of the crew's press conference, and his impressions of their personalities, are so piercing that you feel you're right there watching and listening. And I would defy you to find another more powerful account in print of the experience of the launch of Apollo 11 than Mailer's. It is, as his narrative surrogate Aquarius might say, appropriate to its measure.

I've already made my recommendations here regarding the must-read books available if you wish to gain a fundamental understanding of Apollo, and other cSers have made theirs (Carrying the Fire, absolutely). But if you want a visually sumptuous, narratively compelling, and culturally significant print tribute to Apollo, buy Moonfire.

moorouge
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Posts: 1490
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 06-07-2010 07:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Might I add three more recommendations, all written within three years of the '11' flight -
  1. Man on the Moon by Peter Fairley (the ITN science correspondent)
  2. First on the Moon by two Time/Life reporters
  3. We Reach the Moon by John Noble Wilford
All three are very readable and give a human perspective to the 'great adventure'.

Tykeanaut
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Posts: 1623
From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 07-08-2010 04:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am thinking of buying Buzz Aldrin's "Magnificent Desolation" and Edgar Mitchell's "The Way of the Explorer." Are they a good read?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-08-2010 04:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You can find reviews for "Magnificent Desolation" under its dedicated topic.

moorouge
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From: U.K.
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posted 07-08-2010 06:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tykeanaut:
I am thinking of buying Buzz Aldrin's "Magnificent Desolation" and Edgar Mitchell's "The Way of the Explorer." Are they a good read?
I was disappointed with 'Magnicient Desolation'. Nevertheless, it does provide an insight into one man's battle against illness, though giving hints that perhaps there is still some bitterness about not being the first.

Better buys, in my opinion, are:

  • "Angle of Attack - Harrison Storms and the Race to the Moon" by Mike Gray; W.W. Norton; IBSN 978 0 393 32513 3. [The story of the building of Apollo CM/2nd stage very much from a North American viewpoint.

  • "How to Build Your Own Spaceship" by Piers Bizony; Portobello Books; IBSN 978 1 84627 125 0. [Provides an insight into some of the problems and solutions faced in putting a man into space.]
Hope this helps.

Gilbert
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Posts: 935
From: Carrollton, GA USA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 07-08-2010 06:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gilbert   Click Here to Email Gilbert     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GoesTo11:
I'm going to court controversy here and add Norman Mailer's Moonfire as a must-have addition to the Apollo literary canon.
I agree in regards to including Moonfire as a must read/must have book. It is a bargain at $40 and with a little shopping and coupon usage can be had for less. Taschen's high quality and Mailer's refreshingly edited text make Moonfire an indispensable addition to any Apollo book collection.

Dwight
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From: Germany
Registered: Dec 2003

posted 07-08-2010 07:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwight   Click Here to Email Dwight     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd recommend "Live TV From the Moon" in the lot as well. It covers a topic which has never been properly written about and explains how humble earthlings were able to participate in humanity's boldest adventure.

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