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  The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story (Lily Koppel) (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story (Lily Koppel)
Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-08-2010 06:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the New York Daily News...
Think of it as "Mad Men" meets "The Right Stuff" or "The Real Housewives of Cape Canaveral."

"The Astronaut Wives Club," Lily Koppel's second book (after "The Red Leather Diary"), has all of the above plus a dash of publishing excitement. After an extended auction, the book sold recently to Grand Central Publishing for a high-six-figure sum. "An imprint at every house in town" was interested in the book, said a source familiar with the deal.

Tentatively slated for release in spring 2013, "The Astronaut Wives Club" will follow the spouses of men in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, who lived in a Houston neighborhood they called "Togethersville."

The wives "drank together, popped pills together, consoled each other," Koppel, who's written for The Times, told Gatecrasher. While their husbands traveled in space - and cavorted with groupies known as "Cape Cookies" in Cape Canaveral, a no-wives zone - the women were left to maintain what Koppel calls the "facade of the perfect American family" for the fleet of cameras that invaded their homes.

The wives were proto-reality-stars. Life magazine purchased the exclusive rights to their stories for $500,000, divided among all the families. The deal also granted the astronauts life insurance policies, which no one else would provide. In return, the families lived with reporters camped on their lawns and crawling in through their windows -- essentially embedded in suburbia.

Meanwhile, the husbands returning to Earth had Don Draper-worthy existential angst. Some, like Buzz Aldrin, fell into depression and alcoholism. Most of the marriages split after the space effort. But while the astronauts lost track of one another, the wives stayed in touch. Even now, Koppel found, they gather for cruises and reunions.

Koppel's agent, Larry Weissman of Larry Weissman Literary, tells us there's already interest in the film rights to the book. He added, though, that he sees the story more as "a really smart TV series."

onesmallstep
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posted 12-08-2010 04:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will be sure to read this one. The wives barely get mentioned in 'official' histories, and they (and their marriages) certainly got a sanitized make-over during the 'space race'. Apart from the odd newspaper and magazine article, the only other venue to offer a behind-the-spouse look has been TV, with an episode of 'From the Earth to the Moon' directed by Sally Field and a documentary on astronaut wives/widows by the BBC that aired last year around the Apollo 11 anniversary. If the book includes women like Rene Carpenter and other opinionated wives, then it will be fascinating to read how they coped with the pressures and expectations here on earth-no less treacherous than the ones in space.

AstroAutos
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posted 12-08-2010 05:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just watched the 'From the Earth to the Moon' episode 'The Apollo Wives Club' for the first time this evening.

I have to be honest I felt it was going to be the worst of all 12 episodes as it didn't really concentrate on the mission aspect with those wonderful special effects so prevalent in most of the other episodes,but I was pleasantly surprised and it gave me a much clearer idea into what went on in the minds of the wives.

I learned some things I hadn't known before, such as Susan Borman's drinking problem, Pat White's suicide in the 80's, how many of the astronauts were away from home so much of the time (some scenes include Marilyn Lovell revealing to Jim that she is four months pregnant, and in 1972 telling him that all of their kids had their tonsils removed in 1965!)

The wives obviously rallied around the likes of Marilyn See, Pat White, Martha Chaffee after their husband's deaths, but it is clear that once their husband's were dead they no longer felt important, and gradually drifted apart from the other wives they had been friendly with for so long.

Fascinating stuff and I'm sure this book will be a good read too.

jasonelam
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posted 12-10-2010 03:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree that this will be a very interesting book when it comes out. There really has not been a book that has discussed the wives side of the story.

I remember watching "The Astronaut Wives Club" episode of "From the Earth to the Moon" and first thinking "Why aren't they covering Apollo 16 like they have the previous missions?". As I watched further, I realized that this was one of the better episodes of the series, for it involved a topic that has not been talked about as much as the science and the flying: the "war" at home, the struggles of the wives to raise children and run households with very little help from their spouses due to their training schedules, the struggles with the press, and the anguish of loss of a husband in the course of their duties.

After reading the posts on here, I got the chance to watch "Apollo Wives", which was a BBC doccumentary from a few years ago about the wives of many of the Apollo astronauts. It is a great doccumentatry, and I feel that it really brought home the emotions and events that took place behind the scenes during the race to the moon. It was interesting to hear their side of the story, how they coped with the issues that faced them. One of the more emotional moments was when Martha Chaffee talked about "the Fire", the loss of her husband, and how she talked to their children about what happened. I must admit that I found it interesting that while they showed excerpts from Beth Williams' interviews, they did not talk to her about the loss of her husband or much else about how events affected her.

Really looking forward to this book and the stories that it will share for a side of the space race few have seen.

E2M Lem Man
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posted 12-10-2010 07:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For the record, the episode was named: "The First Wives Club," directed and starring Sally Field as "Marge Slayton." It was primarily focused on the marriages around Apollo 16, especially John Young's divorce and remarriage.

J.M. Busby
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"From the Earth to the Moon"

4allmankind
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posted 12-10-2010 07:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 4allmankind   Click Here to Email 4allmankind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sally Field's role on "From the Earth to the Moon" was as Gordon Cooper's wife, Trudy.

cspg
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posted 11-09-2012 12:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story
by Lily Koppel
In a thoroughly researched page-turner that transports readers back to the beginnings of our space race, bestselling author Lily Koppel reveals for the first time the stories and secrets of America's unsung heroes-the wives of our original astronauts.

As America's Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons, donning sherbet-swirled Pucci dresses and lacquering their hair into extravagant rocket styles.

Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage and many magazine features, was the envy of the other wives; platinum-blonde bombshell Rene Carpenter was proclaimed JFK's favorite; Betty Grissom worried her husband was having affairs; Louise Shepard just wanted to be left alone; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived on base with a dirty secret. With each spectacular launch, they worried they might never see their husbands again. Together they formed the Astronaut Wives Club.

A fascinating, dishy and moving read, set against the backdrop of the Space Age and a country that would be forever changed by it, The Astronaut Wives Club tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history.

Lily Koppel is the bestselling author of The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal (Harper, 2008). She has written for the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, the Huffington Post, and Glamour.

onesmallstep
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posted 11-09-2012 03:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great to hear about this upcoming book! After hearing discussions about the private lives of the astronauts and their spouses/children on this forum, it will be interesting to read it in book-length form. Also after seeing it dramatized in 'From the Earth to the Moon' in the episode directed by Sally Field.

Nice blurb describing the Mercury 7 wives, especially Rene Carpenter, 'the platinum-blonde bombshell', as JFK's 'favorite'(!). Will be fascinating to see her daughter Kris' reaction to the book.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 02-21-2013 02:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Haven't read this, just flipped through it as I'm in the middle of another book, but I noticed a possible error in this photo in the book in which the caption reads, "From left: the Collinses, the Aldrins; at right, the Armstrongs." I believe it is actually the Aldrins and then the Collinses.

And in flipping through, there's more to the book than the Mercury 7 wives, going into Apollo.

garymilgrom
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posted 02-21-2013 05:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hart how are you reading this if the release is still months away?

Chris what is a "dishy read"? Thanks.

cspg
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posted 02-21-2013 06:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garymilgrom:
What is a "dishy read"?
Beats me. Just copied what can be found at amazon.com.

p51
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posted 02-21-2013 11:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by AstroAutos:
The wives obviously rallied around the likes of Marilyn See, Pat White, Martha Chaffee after their husband's deaths, but it is clear that once their husband's were dead they no longer felt important, and gradually drifted apart from the other wives they had been friendly with for so long.
They had all been military wives long before NASA wives. They knew how it worked. In the military at the time (as the same as it is now), once the serviceman is put into the ground, they pat the widow on the back and ask a few times if there's anything they can do, and the wife is pretty much expected to melt away and vanish afterward. I saw it happen three times when I was on active duty...

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 02-21-2013 12:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garymilgrom:
Hart how are you reading this if the release is still months away?
Review copy.

tfrielin
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posted 02-21-2013 02:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tfrielin   Click Here to Email tfrielin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hart Sastrowardoyo:
I believe it is actually the Aldrins and then then...
You are correct — Aldrins on the left, Collins at top, and Armstrongs at right.

Geez, I hope the author ran the page proofs past a knowledgable fact-checker or two. It would be a shame to have another disappointing book like Nelson's Rocket Men out there, especially since this one covers such relatively uncharted territory. Fingers crossed.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 02-21-2013 04:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To be fair, the copy is marked as an uncorrrcted proof. One of the photos, for example, notes "Pat Collins (in red with beehive)" but the photo is b/w.

About halfway through and haven't noticed any errors.

tfrielin
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posted 02-22-2013 08:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tfrielin   Click Here to Email tfrielin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hart Sastrowardoyo:
To be fair, the copy is marked as an uncorrected proof.
One word about "uncorrected page proofs": I reviewed books for Library Journal for seventeen years — more than eighty in all — nearly all from uncorrected page proofs (so the review would coincide with the publication of the finished book).

In all that time and for all those books, I never saw an error that was in the page proofs fixed in the final book.

Just saying.

But good to hear you're not finding errors so far. I look forward to reading this book later this year.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 02-23-2013 09:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Two-thirds of the way done and found these:
After the news of Elliot's death had been so bungled by NASA and the press, Togethersville banded together more than ever, especially protecting its widows and wives from the outside world - which in the case of Ted Freeman's death had been devastating.
Since this is from a chapter on the deaths of See and Bassett, and it was mentioned that Ted Freeman's wife found out about her husband's death from a reporter in an earlier chapter, I believe the sentence should read, "After the news of Ted's death..."

Of more import is this from a later chapter:

A few days she (Joan Aldrin) wrote, "Had a long talk with Buzz, but still don't understand what he was driving at. Who makes the first exit from the lunar module on lunar surface is still very much an issue. And B was upset because he heard, via that terrible institution, the grapevine, that Deke's opinion was that Neil should be the first for historic reasons if nothing else."
The next graf begins,
Apollo 11's commander, Neil Armstrong, was a civilian, and both NASA and President Nixon felt it was important for Apollo 11 not to be seen as a form of military action, of lunar conquest, especially with the Vietnam War still raging.
Three things:
  1. The way the LEM was designed, wouldn't Neil have been the first to leave, because he was closest to the hatch?

  2. If Apollo 11 failed to land, and it was up to Apollo 12 to do so, both Conrad and Bean were military. (And Armstrong is ex-military. Or you can argue NASA is a civilian agency and nobody has military rank.)

  3. If they didn't want the lunar landing to be seen as a form of conquest, then why plant the US flag and not the UN flag?

gliderpilotuk
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posted 06-02-2013 06:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There's multi-page article (effectively promoting the book) in The Times supplement dated June 1st. It does look like an interesting insight into the astronauts from the people who knew them best, which will in part have many of them (at least the ones that are still alive) feeling a little uncomfortable. The article focuses on Donn Eisele as an exemplar of the "bad" behavior. It will be interesting to read whether any of the surviving astronauts who misbehaved similarly come in for the same treatment, or whether legal concerns force the author to shy away.

Seems it is published on June 11, 2013.

Blackarrow
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posted 06-02-2013 12:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a less than glowing review by Camilla Long in today's Sunday Times "Culture" section. I quote:
Fifty years after the space race, these perfect painted women couldn't seem less relevant. Koppel...does not explain her interest in the women or give any reason why she decided to write the book. She doesn't say much about her sources and there is no indication which are new quotes and which, if any, are taken from old "Life" articles. There is a feeling that most of the material from the Moon landings themselves is lifted from the famous and furiously bored description written for "Life" by Norman Mailer. This gives the book a sheeny, fictional feel that is as Valiumed and twee as the endless cast of coiffed Betty Drapers.
However, the review has positive aspects and ends:
...Otherwise this is a fun, unusual read - but if feels more like a tie-in with Mad Men than actual history.

GoesTo11
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posted 06-02-2013 03:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A cursory look at Camilla Long's work brings to my mind the impression of an energetically self-gratifying and ideologically blinkered literary fashion victim.

The Astronaut Wives' Club may very well be what Long says it is, but I'll wait for reviews from people closer to the subject matter and less pretentiously affected. I mean, "Mad Men" is a television show.

cspg
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posted 06-03-2013 09:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There's a website dedicated to the book.

ColinBurgess
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posted 06-08-2013 04:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jeannie Bassett has told me that on CBS Sunday morning on 16 June they will air a series of interviews conducted with many of the wives in regard to this new book. Apart from Jeannie, Lee Cowan interviews Sue Bean, Barbara Cernan, Jan Conrad Dreyfus and Marilyn Lovell.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 06-09-2013 06:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ColinBurgess:
Although I haven't read it as yet, Walt Cunningham and I discussed this book at the recent Spacefest conference. He told me there were so many inaccuracies and false facts in several so-called "insider stories" that he personally found it to be a very poor book.

Which is why I didn't want to write a review on it. I know more about shuttle than MGA, and thus couldn't write a review.

GoforEVA
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posted 06-10-2013 06:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoforEVA   Click Here to Email GoforEVA     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have read the book and whilst interesting in parts, it is overall disappointing with many errors. The definitive book on astronaut wives is still to be written...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-10-2013 06:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm in touch with Lily Koppel, and have expressed interest in interviewing her for an article.

Historical errors aside, if readers (or cS members in general) have questions for Koppel about researching the book, the interviews she did with the astronauts' wives or the subject in general, you're welcome to post them here or e-mail me for possible inclusion in the interview.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 06-11-2013 07:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
OK, here goes:

"One aspect of the publicity ahead of launch seems to focus on the "bad" behavior narrated by the wives of deceased astronauts. Is the same treatment accorded to the behavior of surviving astronauts, and if so, was this done with their consent/approval of the script?"

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-11-2013 08:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Paul, you've lost me a bit — are you describing something written in Lily Koppel's book or some other project when you mention narration and scripts? (Granted I have yet to read "The Astronaut Wives Club," which I am starting today.)

gliderpilotuk
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posted 06-12-2013 06:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, the book.

Based on the extensive review and article in The Times recently, there seemed to be a moralizing stance against (in this article at least), the behavior of deceased astronauts. Given that the book is based on interviews with wives and ex-wives I was using the word "narrative" to relate to the source of the book's material. Granted, a newspaper review can be sensationalized, but I'm still curious as to whether the book (and indirectly, the former wives) are selective in whom they choose the criticize.

Maybe I'd better wait for the book!

garymilgrom
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posted 06-12-2013 09:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The following refers to the Kindle edition. At location 164 (5%) the author writes about Scott Carpenter's wife "Rene dressed in a classic sheath and planned to outfit..."

I don't know what a classic sheath is and I hope this is not a book that assumes a female audience.

Also the author states Mrs. Carpenter's first name Rene rhymes with keen and I've never heard that before. Can anyone confirm? Thanks.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-12-2013 10:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Classic sheath dress" is a fairly common term.
quote:
Originally posted by garymilgrom:
Also the author states Mrs. Carpenter's first name Rene rhymes with keen and I've never heard that before.
Yes, that is correct.

AJ
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posted 06-15-2013 05:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJ   Click Here to Email AJ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I received and started my copy today and so far I am enjoying it very much. I don't believe it is meant to be a definitive collective biography, as it has a slightly more social/cultural bent. for example, putting an emphasis on how the wives' personalities were distilled by Life magazine and perhaps NASA, how the images of them as "perfect" and "ideal" wives were often in humorous contrast to their vibrant personalities (ie, Jo Schirra being asked if she was going to bake Wally a cake and she didn't bake at all, but it became a headline anyway). I haven't finished it yet, but so far I think it's a nice addition to our space libraries.

jasonelam
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posted 06-16-2013 09:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am really looking forward to reading this book, and am looking at reviews at Amazon right now and most are positive. However, I am confused. One reviewer wrote that only two of the Mercury 7 stayed married to their original wives, Alan Shepard and John Glenn. However, I thought Wally and Jo Schirra were married until his death. Is that correct?

AJ
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posted 06-16-2013 10:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJ   Click Here to Email AJ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, that is correct. I finished the book this morning and Koppel does note that only a few couples stayed together. I really enjoyed the book and was pleased to get a much better idea of the individual personalities behind the faces we have seen in so many photos. I also appreciated the inclusion of women like Jeannie Bassett, whose stories are among the least famous. The women come across as likeable, fascinating, fun and determined. They are now free to be honest about how stressful their lives could be, but also how rewarding it was and how they relied on each other. I think it could have stood to have been a bit longer, as the Apollo era section feels a bit rushed, but overall it's a fine book.

Also, several wives (plus Jim Lovell) were in a brief report on CBS Sunday Morning today. The video is available online and it is worth watching, although unfortunately the actual interviews seem too brief in comparison to all the yakking by the reporter on the background of the program and who the wives were married to.

jasonelam
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posted 06-16-2013 06:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My wife DVR'ed the interviews on CBS "Sunday Morning" for me and we watched them after we got home from lunch. I agree that the interviews were clipped and it was interesting to listen to the wives talk about the program and their experiences. I really cannot wait to read this book!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-16-2013 08:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Sunday Morning segment and a related article are now on CBS's website.
The men of NASA's Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs were national heroes -- a few even became icons.

But they were husbands, too -- most of them fathers -- and the wives who stayed behind while their OTHER halves explored OTHER worlds -- were part of a sisterhood with an orbit all its own.

tfrielin
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posted 06-17-2013 10:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tfrielin   Click Here to Email tfrielin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I read the book over the weekend and came away disappointed. I wasn't expecting Murray & Cox, exactly, but this account came across as superficial. Essentially the narrative structure consists of moving through the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, throwing in a few anecdotes along the way. Okay, maybe that's a bit exaggerated, but not far off the mark.

The Epilogue final chapter is especially disappointing as it recounts the Wives' last reunion from 1991 — that's over twenty years ago. Okay, so most readers aren't interested in a whatever-happened-to-what-are-they-doing-now type of account for each and every wife, but at least a fuller accounting of some of the more interesting women is certainly in order. Like Betty Grissom — her own account was written nearly forty years ago. I was left wondering what she has been doing since the '70s? Didn't really get much of an answer here.

Similarly, Rene Carpenter — perhaps the most interesting of the wives also seems to disappear after we learn she hosted a TV show way back in the '70s and did launch commentary on NBC. Well, for such an interesting personality would it have been too much trouble to fill us in on her life for the past four decades?

If you're going to the beach this summer, Koppel's book will make for a good beach read. But it doesn't contribute much to the history of the early years of the US manned spaceflight program. Given that these wives represent one of the last — if not, the last — untapped primary sources from that time, that's a shame.

garymilgrom
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posted 06-30-2013 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was also disappointed in this book for the same reasons as mentioned above and the Sunday Times review posted on June 2.

To back up the claim the book is superficial and does not contain new research or even reasons for the behavior it talks about, here's a quote describing a dinner at the White House with Rene Carpenter and Jackie Kennedy:

"The two mothers and their children ate a perfect meal. To cap off the evening they went downstairs to pay a surprise visit to the Oval Office. President Kennedy was working late. Jackie fixed his tie, and soon the First Couple escorted their guests to a waiting limousine and hugged them goodnight."

Again this is the author writing, not copying a period piece. And here's a description of a group of wives preparing for a post flight motorcade:

"The only decision to be made was 'to hat or not to hat.' Jackie had begun being seen formally without a hat, so the wives felt they were no longer obliged to wear them either. Trudy still wanted to wear one, but her friends tried to convince her otherwise."

To me this just parrots the vacuous writing during the time the Mercury astronauts were flying. I was hoping for more insight into what was really going on in these women's lives. Even the title of the book implies this kind of behind the scenes writing.

Finally a factual error: Koppel says Scott Carpenter named Aurora 7 after the street he grew up on in Boulder. But in Baker's History of Manned Spaceflight Scott is quoted explaining his choice this way: "I think of project Mercury and the open manner we are conducting it for the benefit of all as a light in the sky. Aurora also means dawn - in this case the dawn of a new age" (pg. 125).

carl walker
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Posts: 232
From: Netherlands
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 07-10-2013 06:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carl walker     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I also agree with the comments above. Sometimes the book read like the screenplay of The Right Stuff movie, which itself is based on Tom Wolfe's book - not entirely realistic.

Plus a major factual error about Tereshkova being pregnant at the time of her flight — well, her daughter was born a full year after in June 64.

Still a nicely produced book, some things I'd never heard before.

I found the 2009 BBC documentary Apollo Wives a bit more interesting. Excerpt here, trailer here.

ColinBurgess
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Posts: 1664
From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: Sep 2003

posted 07-10-2013 10:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a copy of the book coming to me, but such elementary errors are obviously not a good indication. In fact the marriage of Tereshkova and Nikolayev was probably instigated by Nikita Khrushchev, who was very aware of the propaganda potential of the union of two famed cosmonauts. They were not even married until November 1963.

jasonelam
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Posts: 485
From: Monticello, KY USA
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 07-15-2013 06:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I finally finished a copy of the e-book version on my tablet, and I have to say that the book is not bad. The pictures of the families were interesting and added to the story. The story of the wives of the astronauts is one that has not been told as much as it should have been, and I believe this book gave them justice...to a point.

There are several issues that I have with the book, the first of which being there were entire passages that I felt a sense of deja vu, in which I felt I had seen them before. Some of them seemed to have been ripped from previous books I had read, and made me wonder if there was a lot of copy/paste involved.

The second involved the factual errors involved in the book, which included that Tereshkova was pregnant at the time of the Vostok 6 flight. Really? That would make for another record, that being the longest human pregnancy in history, given that Yelena was born in June of 1964. Also, there was a mention of Pete Conrad flying on Gemini 7. I know Pete was short, but I don't think he could have been a stowaway with Frank and Jim for two weeks!

The thing that bothers me the most is what is missing and what is limited. No mention is given on the Gemini 8 emergency, the Gemini 9 EVA, and it seemed like Apollo 13 was not given as much time in the book as it should have. It seemed to me the book was wrapped up before it had a chance to flourish, and if more time had been given to review it (maybe, say, by some members of this group ) maybe it would have been a better read.

Bottom line to me is that this book is entertaining, but it is flawed. I enjoyed it, and there were things that I did not know about the wives that I know now, but there should have been more time given to the creation and research of the book.


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