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The right stuff

4.4 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Books (1988)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007202W2
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.2 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Tom Wolfe was born in 1931. He has written for The Washington Post and The New York Herald Tribune and is credited with the creation of 'New Journalism'. Between 1984 and 1985 Wolfe wrote his first novel The Bonfire of the Vanities in serial form for Rolling Stone magazine. The novel was published in 1987. It was number one of the New York Times bestseller list for two months and remained on the list for more than a year. He is the author of sixteen books, among them such contemporary classics as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and I Am Charlotte Simmons. He lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is primarily the story of Project Mercury and its seven astronauts who became media celebrities during the golden age of space travel, when NASA had an almost unlimited budget to catch and then beat the Soviets in the Space Race.
As if this is not enough, the book touches on Chuck Yeager's exploits in the X-1 when breaking the sound barrier in October 1947 and also gives an account of the achievements of the X-15 Spaceplane and its pilots.
The book tells of the hero worship that the Mercury Seven and their wives received (especially John Glenn and Alan Shepherd), including ticker tape parades, meeting the President and addressing Congress. This is hard to believe today in an age when we take space travel for granted. But it also goes into detail of the mission foul ups of Scott Carpenter and Gus Grissom and tells many anecdotes of great interest that Wolfe obtained by interviewing flight and non flight members of Project Mercury. A great book, I cannot fault it.
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Format: Paperback
The Right Stuff: 'A man should have the ability to go up in a hurtling piece of machinery and put his hide on the line and then have the moxie, the reflexes, the experience, the coolness, to pull it back in the last yawning gap - and then go up again the next day, and the next day, and every next day ... '

This is one of the most unusual and best non-fiction books I have ever read. The film version of this book is also ground breaking. I love this book.

One thought expressed in the book, and the film, is when someone says the astronauts are only doing what a monkey can do (because eveything is automated) but as Yeager points out: A monkey does not know he is sitting on a rocket that could explode at any moment, unlike the astronaut.

In an age we have footballers portrayed as heroes simply for kicking a ball or advertising perfume, and soldiers wanting to sue for stress, it is refreshing to read about true heroes in an age when celebrity actually meant something.
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Format: Paperback
"The Mercury Project". Words that should be guaranteed to stir the blood and stiffen the sinews, but somehow the astonishing achievements of the 1960s American space programme seems to have lost its ability to inspire admiration in recent years, and so reading a book like this will hopefully restore some of that awe. And our awe is truly what they deserve, not because they were necessarily the nicest of people, but because of what they were prepared to do in the name of human endeavour and progress. Fortune and glory might have played some part in their motivations, but when you read about what they experienced and what they were prepared to do, surely very few would begrudge them that.

In the tradition of the true-life novel we follow the characters from their early years as trainees through the trials and humiliations of the selection process and on towards their personal triumphs in the space programme right up until the end of the Mercury programme. Alongside this, the fortunes of other no less brave (but largely unregarded) test pilots are contrasted, as well as the wretched experiences of the wives of great men.

It also has a lot to say about the birth of "Celebrity Culture" with regard to the exalted status the original seven Mercury astronauts immediately received in the American public view of the time, despite having at that time done little more than volunteer and attend a press conference.

Fabulously well written, THE RIGHT STUFF is a very satisfying read and is rightly considered a modern classic. Fascinating stuff.
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Format: Paperback
Tom Wolfe is an outstanding writer, and this book shows him at his best. Wolfe recounts the careers of the first US astronauts, from their early hell-raising lives as test pilots to the first space flights and beyond, in exquisite, entertaining prose. His descriptions, whether of a crashed pilot "burned beyond recognition", or the minute-by-minute experience of the first astronauts in the Mercury programme, are mesmerising. Perhaps his greatest achievement is to describe the astronauts (eg the Peugeot-driving John Glenn) both as heroic, larger-than-life figures and as real, believable human beings.
Summary: an extraordinary book.
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Format: Paperback
A fascinating account of the lives and events of the test pilots and their families during the American Mercury space program. Mr Wolfe details the prevailing mood of the country at the time and the political expediency that financed such an ambitious undertaking. This is a very easily readable book, avoiding delving too deeply into technical matters and containing an appropriate amount of dry humour. Particularly intriguing is the interaction between the fast-paced, energetic astronauts and the bland, dispassionate scientists. Some of the anecdotes have most likely received some embellishment, either from Mr Wolfe himself or by those recounting the tales to him, but this does not detract at all from making it a thoroughly enjoyable read.
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By Frootle on 13 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback
Never mind the quality, just feel the testosterone. I'm kind of fascinated by the whole, mad race for the stars in the fifties and sixties. The down home, hokey tone of this didn't really do it for me though. Chuck Yeager might have spoken like that, but it drags after 300 pages
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