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Author Topic:   Far Side of the Moon (Liisa Jorgensen)
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 47941
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-08-2021 01:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Far Side of the Moon: Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman and the Woman Who Gave Him Wings by Liisa Jorgensen
Far Side of the Moon is the untold, fully authorized story of the lives of Frank and Susan Borman. One was a famous astronaut — an instrumental part of the Apollo space program — but the other was just as much a warrior. This real-life love story is far from a fairy tale.

Life as a military wife was beyond demanding, but Susan always rose to the occasion. When Frank joined NASA and was selected to command the first mission to orbit the moon, Susan’s well-hidden depression and alcoholism finally came to light. Frank had to come to terms with how his "mission above all else" mentality contributed to his wife's suffering. As Susan healed, she was able to begin helping others who suffered in silence from mental illness and addiction.

Discover how Frank and Susan's love and commitment to each other is still overcoming life's challenges, even beyond their years as an Apollo commander and the founder of the Astronaut Wives Club.

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Chicago Review Press (December 7, 2021)
  • ISBN-10: 1641606061
  • ISBN-13: 978-1641606066


Posts: 380
From: Pacific NW, United States
Registered: May 2012

posted 01-02-2022 10:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceCadet1983   Click Here to Email SpaceCadet1983     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've seen this book on Amazon and was wondering if any cSers have read it. If so, what did you think?


Posts: 186
From: United Kingdom
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 01-16-2022 01:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OWL   Click Here to Email OWL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Having just read "The Far Side Of The Moon" I would like to thank Liisa Jorgensen for her foresight, research and insightful interviews she has managed to capture into the pages of this riveting book.

I have read almost all the Astronaut autobiographies/biographies but this book looks at what the highs and lows were in a astronaut family from the very start and post NASA.

There is quite clearly a huge amount of trust between the author and Frank Borman along with others interviewed who had touched the Bormans' life.

There are many anecdotes within this book that are not captured in "Countdown" and as Frank may have mellowed in his approach over the years his degree of honesty certainly comes out in the pages.

The book has some amusing facets to it along with some very moving aspects and it is clear to see why the Bormans had a long marriage. For example a fist fight between the Borman boys just prior to Apollo 8 TEI resulting in one of them with a broken digit. (No more spoilers.)

It is so much more than a book purely about Frank Borman's time at NASA but Frank certainly has taken a long hard look at his stellar career but also looked into the mirror and laid bear his innermost thoughts to the author Liisa.

This book certainly builds on Barbara Cernan's famous quote on what it was like to be a wife of an astronaut.

A great read and highly recommended.


Posts: 297
From: College Station, TX
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 01-18-2022 12:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kevmac   Click Here to Email Kevmac     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I received the book just before Christmas and read it in two days. A terrific read and great story about Frank and Susan Borman and the challenges they faced throughout their life together from high school up to present day. It was a great story made more relevant since Susan Borman passed away just a few months ago.

It made me want to read more about Frank and Susan Borman so I re-read his book Countdown for the first time since 1993, then wanted to read more so over the holiday I read four books about Apollo 8 that included Genesis & Apollo 8. I am currently in Rocket Men and will read Earthrise last. There are slight differences in the books and mostly uses the same sources but told in different ways. All very enjoyable.

I think the Far Side of the Moon tells the story the best as Frank Borman opened his heart about their life-long relationship, love for each other, and struggles Susan Borman had at each stage of their life together...high school, West Point, each Air Force assignment, NASA, Eastern Airlines, and then the period of retirement.

I gained a much better appreciation of Frank Borman as a person, an officer, astronaut, airline CEO, and his heightened priorities in taking care of Susan when he left Eastern. I think he is underappreciated for the immense responsibilities placed upon him after the Apollo 1 fire, and his accomplishments commanding Apollo 8 and leading a national airline in difficult times. I didn't have a favorite astronaut before, but I do now as a result of reading Far Side of the Moon and his book Countdown, which I believe is underappreciated as well since it was written in 1988.

Get this book. It will not disappoint.


Posts: 1120
From: Lincolnshire IL USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 01-22-2022 05:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The new non-fiction book “The Far Side of the Moon” is both a love story and a tragedy.

This authorized biography, written by Liisa Jorgensen, is a moving look back at the lives of Frank Borman and his late wife Susan. Colonel Borman, now age 93, was the hard-driving over-achiever who was the quarterback of his state champion high school football team. He learned to fly at age 15, attended West Point where he graduated 8th out of 670, and joined the Air Force where he was at the top of his flight classes. Borman became a test pilot and was in the first class of the Aerospace Research Pilot School. He loved flying and was laser-focused on his career.

While in high school he met the beautiful Susan Bugbee, three years his junior. On the outside she was fun with a great personality, but inside Susan had demons which she repressed. She was cursed with an evil mother who among other things, blamed 13-year-old Susan for the death of Susan’s father from an asthma attack (of course, this made no sense). Her mother thought Susan could do nothing right and was constantly belittling and criticizing her.

Susan and Frank fell in love and, after a year-long separation due to Frank’s Air Force training during which they dated others, the couple got married. Susan took on the role of a military wife with its frequent moves, poor housing, and expectations to put her husband ahead of herself. Frank advanced in the military and with the encouragement of Air Force leadership applied in 1962 to become an astronaut. He was accepted as one of the New Nine. Frank, Susan and their 2 sons moved to Houston.

Astronaut wives were expected to be smiling, well-dressed, devoted to their husbands, and supportive of NASA’s mission. Their husbands, including Frank, were away much of the time for training, so the astronaut wives became “single parents” when it came to raising their children, running a household, and living up to NASA’s PR expectations. Many of the men (but not Frank) were involved in affairs while on the road.

Death was the unspoken fear that hung over the wives in the pilot community. During difficult and dangerous test pilot training, crashes and funerals were commonplace. “It’s not going to happen to me” was the pilot’s refrain. Among early NASA astronauts, Ted Freeman, Ed Givens, Elliot See, and Charlie Bassett died in various accidents. In January 1967 Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were killed in a fire during a ground test of their sealed, oxygen-rich Apollo capsule.

This hit the Bormans particularly hard because they had become good friends with Ed and Pat White. Susan became convinced that Frank was going to die during his training or his two space missions. The book claims that astronaut physician Dr. Charles Berry handed out tranquilizers like candy to worried wives. Susan found solace in alcohol instead.

Meanwhile Frank took a leadership role in NASA’s recovery from the Apollo Fire. He was on the investigation board and defended the program in Congress. He practically lived in Downey, California where the capsule was being redesigned. Frank’s priorities then were the Mission first and his family second. Susan was left to cope alone with family health emergencies, house problems, the public role of being an astronaut wife, and fears for her husband’s safety.

Smiling and chipper, Susan externally seemed to be one of the ideal wives; for example, with Marge Slayton she founded the Astronaut Wives Club. Internally she repressed her anger at her terrible mother, her certainty that Frank would die, and her resentment that her husband was never there for her.

Frank was a patriotic Cold Warrior and believed his highest calling was to defeat the Soviets in getting to the Moon. After flying Gemini 7 for two weeks in Earth orbit, Frank commanded Apollo 8 in lunar orbit. Along with Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, they became the first humans to leave Earth in a dangerous but highly successful first flight to the Moon. Borman then spent a year as the NASA liaison to the White House before joining Eastern Airlines as vice president for operations. Eastern was in crisis and Borman was determined to save it, even though it meant long absences from Susan.

The pressure, anger, and resentment left Susan depressed and she began to drink more. She had a “nervous breakdown” which led to a four-month hospitalization at a psychiatric facility in Vermont. She received treatment for depression and alcohol abuse and was able to bravely come to terms with her demons, such as the loss of her father at age 13 and her dreadful mother.

The situation shocked Frank into a re-evaluation of his own life. The author had access to touching letters expressing his love which he sent to Susan while she was confined. He promised to always be there for her in the future. He kept that vow.

After Frank resigned as president of Eastern due to union demands in 1986, the couple moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where Susan opened a store. They later moved to Montana where another tragedy unfolded: Susan developed Alzheimer’s disease. Frank was devoted to her as she deteriorated and visited her every day at the nursing home. He moved to an apartment across from the facility to be closer. Susan died in September 2021.

This book is emotionally brutal and honest. Susan is the hero of the story, devoting herself to her husband and sons. Her struggle and victory against depression and alcohol is inspiring. Frank has been courageous to tell their story, warts and all, to the author, and provide written records such as personal letters. Susan’s saga of resilience is a gift to her family, friends, many admirers, and to history. Nineteen of the 29 marriages of men who flew in Apollo eventually ended in divorce but not hers.

Profound love kept Susan and Frank together through rough spots in their lives. Author Liisa Jergensen does a masterful job of bringing that love and those struggles to light. I highly recommend this book for its insight into the challenges of being a military and astronaut wife. They were heroes on the ground. Best book ever on that topic!


Posts: 33
From: Orlando, Florida
Registered: Oct 2005

posted 01-23-2022 07:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brock   Click Here to Email Brock     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just want to reiterate what others have said about this book. Do yourself a favor and read this book. It is amazing and awesome! It is a reminder that there are great people living among us and that the Borman family is a great example of overcoming trials and adversity.

Thank you to Ms. Jorgensen for this wonderful book. Like all of you, I am fascinated by the history of manned space flight but it was refreshing to read a great human interest story from a different vantage point.


Posts: 1014
From: Northampton UK
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 03-07-2022 12:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just want to endorse all that has been said on this thread. After such a long time since "Countdown" it was refreshing to read this different aspect of Frank Borman from his wife's side. In his autobiography Borman was open about Susan's problems but this book is much more detailed.

It was great that because of their love of each other they were able to win through. A moving story well told and highly recommended reading for all who would like to know the more personal details of driven personalities who are natural leaders such as Frank Borman.

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