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  Rocket Men: Odyssey of Apollo 8 (Kurson)

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Author Topic:   Rocket Men: Odyssey of Apollo 8 (Kurson)
cspg
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From: Geneva, Switzerland
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posted 07-22-2017 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon
by Robert Kurson
The inside, lesser-known story of NASA's boldest and riskiest mission: Apollo 8, mankind's first journey to the Moon on Christmas in 1968. A riveting account of three heroic astronauts who took one of the most dangerous space flights ever, from the New York Times bestselling author of Shadow Divers.

In early 1968, the Apollo program was on shaky footing. President Kennedy's end-of-decade deadline to put a man on the Moon was in jeopardy, and the Soviets were threatening to pull ahead in the space race. By August 1968, with its back against the wall, NASA decided to scrap its usual methodical approach and shoot for the heavens. With just four months to prepare — a fraction of the normal time — the agency would send the first men in history to the Moon. In a year of historic violence and discord — the Tet offensive, the assassinations of MLK and RFK, the Chicago DNC riots — the Apollo 8 mission was the boldest test of what America could do. With a focus on astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, and their wives and children, this is a vivid, gripping, you-are-there narrative that shows anew the epic danger involved, and the singular bravery it took, for man to leave Earth for the first time — and to arrive at a new world.

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Random House (April 3, 2018)
  • ISBN-10: 0812988701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812988703

hermit
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From: Scotland
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posted 07-22-2017 03:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hermit   Click Here to Email hermit     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have seen the manuscript and can report that this book is based on extensive interviews by the author with Borman, Lovell and Anders and their wives, and also with Chris Kraft.

The prime technical source is the Apollo Flight Journal. So it combines factual accuracy with personal reflections by the main participants. It pays particular attention to the decision to fly a lunar mission at that point in the program. A good read.

onesmallstep
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From: Staten Island, New York USA
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posted 07-24-2017 10:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good that another title on Apollo 8 is coming out, as I was a little disappointed that the recent one by Jeffrey Kluger was a little skimpy and read more like a long magazine article. More in-depth interviews with the principals involved, especially going into the decision-making to fly to the moon, are welcome.

But I do recommend that that the title be changed: 'Rocket Men' (or Man) has been used a little too much. Maybe "In the Beginning.." or "Around the Moon"?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-05-2018 05:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (Illinois) will host a book launch for "Rocket Men" with author Robert Kurson and the Apollo 8 astronauts on April 5, 2018.
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission and the release of the new book "Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon" by Robert Kurson, with a special evening at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Join the crew of Apollo 8 — astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders — for an exclusive panel discussion with the author. You'll also be able to visit the Apollo 8 capsule they rode to the Moon, and explore select other Museum exhibits in an after-hours environment.

Admission costs $35 and includes a copy of "Rocket Men" signed by the author, a panel discussion with the Apollo 8 astronauts, admission to select Museum exhibits, and light snacks. A cash bar will also be available.

jjknap
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From: Bourbonnais, IL USA
Registered: Apr 2011

posted 03-06-2018 11:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jjknap   Click Here to Email jjknap     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, I purchased my ticket!

onesmallstep
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Posts: 1252
From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 04-04-2018 04:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just finished reading an advance copy, and can say that it is full of details and personal stories about the mission and the three astronauts, with brief bios of each. Also included are vivid portraits of the wives and family, not often seen in space history books.

There are some details I did not know about, like the mismatched set of cufflinks Lovell brought on the mission. As an Annapolis Midshipman, he attended the annual Army-Navy football game. Afterwards, he met a West Point cadet and they each exchanged one of their academy cufflinks. The West Pointer: Ed White, another future astronaut.

And yes, collectSPACE is listed as a source at the end. The book is highly recommended.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 39840
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-05-2018 11:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
In 'Rocket Men,' Robert Kurson retells 'greatest space story ever told'

Robert Kurson was there to see a submarine.

The author of the 2004 bestseller "Shadow Divers" about the discovery of a World War II German U-boat off the coast of New Jersey, Kurson was at the Museum of Science and Industry in his hometown of Chicago to see a similar submarine when he happened across the exhibit of a space capsule.

jjknap
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From: Bourbonnais, IL USA
Registered: Apr 2011

posted 04-05-2018 11:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jjknap   Click Here to Email jjknap     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had a great time at the event. There was a sellout crowd of 1100 people all cheering these three heroes. They poked-fun at each other and told wonderful stories about the flight. What an honor to be in their presence. Can't wait to read the book.

bunnkwio
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From: Naperville, IL USA
Registered: Jul 2008

posted 04-06-2018 12:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bunnkwio   Click Here to Email bunnkwio     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The wife and I attended last night's event, and I was almost brought to tears seeing three of my heroes sitting on stage. The event was packed, and we were lucky enough to get in, obtain our books, and get seats just before the show started (there were TONS of people still in line to get their books when it started).

Robert provided a wonderful introduction as to how the book came about, and some of the tidbits he learned along the way in writing. He then introduced Borman, Lovell and Anders, who were given the first of a few standing ovations.

I was surprised at how funny they were. I don't know how often they talk regularly, but it was like being at a bar with three best friends, throwing jabs at each other and leaving us in stitches.

I cannot wait to read this book, and Robert was commended by the astronauts that, of all of the publications regarding the mission, this was the first that gave proper due to the wives of the astronauts, who sacrificed just as much as they did.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been in the same room as my heroes.

Dave_Johnson
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From: Joliet, IL, USA
Registered: Feb 2014

posted 04-06-2018 07:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dave_Johnson   Click Here to Email Dave_Johnson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I too attended the presentation and brought along my 11 year old son, and can only echo the other statements made here. All 3 astronauts were very lively with the joviality exhibited, and it was interesting to hear Frank Borman's opinion that the US would not be able to expand the envelope of exploration given the current lack of desire and funding to really push the limits as was done for Apollo.

My son really enjoyed the presentation, and was excited to see both the Command Module and Aurora 7 there at the museum. He has now seen one of each of the 4 types of manned spacecraft used.

An example of the fun that was had at the event:

Tallpaul
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From: Rocky Point, NY, USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 04-09-2018 12:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tallpaul     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This was a great read and it is an excellent book. I would put in the pantheon with "Carrying the Fire." Fantastic insights into the lives of the astronauts and their families. The story of how the mission came about and the ability of the author to put one into the capsule with the men is amazing. And to think the 50th Anniversary of this flight is just about 8 months away.

drifting to the right
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From: SW La.
Registered: Aug 2006

posted 04-20-2018 11:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for drifting to the right     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a well written book, worthy of any good space library. Noticed it for sale at our local Sam's Club store yesterday.

For what it's worth, my opinion of Frank Borman alongside Neil Armstrong at the pinnacle of the space explorer pantheon is further reinforced by this tome.

Fra Mauro
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Posts: 1442
From: Bethpage, N.Y.
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 04-22-2018 03:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sounds like a great book! What does it add to the story that other books don't?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 39840
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-22-2018 06:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As mentioned upthread, there are some minor new details as relayed to Kurson by the Apollo 8 crew, but where the book really excels is in its approach to putting you in the command module with the astronauts, as well as the time Kurson devotes to describing what the wives were doing as the mission progressed.

Fra Mauro
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From: Bethpage, N.Y.
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posted 04-22-2018 09:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you Robert!

GACspaceguy
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From: Guyton, GA
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posted 05-04-2018 06:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just saw that Robert Kurson will be discussing the book on C-SPAN's Q&A show at 8 PM EST this Sunday, May 6, 2018.

Kite
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Posts: 730
From: Northampton UK
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 05-06-2018 05:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just finished reading this fascinating account of all aspects of Apollo 8. Well written and thoroughly researched and I highly recommend it for any Apollo enthusiast. As Robert posted on here, a very human side with the wives very much involved in the story.

Impressed that the author describes Jim Lovell's error (I am sure due to fatigue) on the way back from the Moon when the CSM lost its platform due to gimbal lock and how he had to work hard with the sextant to get it back. Haven't seen this mentioned in any other versions of Apollo 8, including Borman's, Lovell's, Chaiken’s and Murray and Cox books, but did find it in David Woods’ "How Apollo Flew to the Moon," which author Robert Kurson acknowledges what a help Woods was in writing and researching this book.

As someone who remembers 1968 very well I can still recall an elderly gentleman on hearing the news of the launch telling me that they would never come back. That is how fantastic the journey was to us at the time and this book puts it all in perspective with what was going on in America in that year.

Kite
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From: Northampton UK
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 05-07-2018 02:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After I posted I then realised I hadn't checked 'In the Shadow of the Moon' by Francis French and Colin Burgess and, of course, found the mention of the gimbal lock on page 316. They never let us down. This book is also used by the author to refer to.

wdw
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From: Scotland
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posted 07-01-2018 02:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for wdw     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a note (I can't help myself), but the fatigue-induced error that Jim Lovell made on the way back on Apollo 8 was not a case of gimbal lock. What he did was to reinitialise the guidance platform by entering Program 01.

This program is used on Earth before launch. It orients the platform in preparation for the gyrocompassing trick that is used to get a prelaunch alignment. In doing so, the platform was taken away from the orientation it ought to have been in. Gimbal lock was not involved.

What was interesting for me as someone who buries themselves in the transcripts, was to learn from Kurson's book about the flak that Lovell got from his crewmates for his error. That just never came across before.

Fra Mauro
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Posts: 1442
From: Bethpage, N.Y.
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 08-01-2018 07:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great book that ranks alongside "Genesis." To me, it is a personal story that emphasizes the crew and their families over the machines. The story of their post-astronaut lives, which can be anti-climatic, was simple but excellent.

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