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Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys Paperback – Special Edition, 7 Jul 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc; Anniversary edition edition (7 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374531943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374531942
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 3.7 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Collins tells what his space journeys meant to him as a human being [and] discusses the role of man amid the multitudinous mechanical marvels . . . Profoundly affecting." --"The New Yorker
""Michael Collins can write . . . No other person who has flown in space has captured the experience so vividly." --Henry S.F. Cooper, Jr., "The New York Times Book Review"

About the Author

Michael Collins flew in both the Gemini 10 and Apollo 11 space missions in the 1960s. He currently lives in South Florida.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Ryuto on 20 Jun. 2001
Format: Paperback
I've read every available account of project Apollo and I think this is by far the best. Collins is a natural story teller and there's little eveidence of a co-author spoiling the text. Collins self-affacing humour and modesty make this a delight to read. Not only was he a Gemini and Apollo pilot, but he was instrumental in the designing of the pressure suit used for space and moon walks and he gives interesting accounts of this (including the discovery of his own claustraphobia-not a most desireable attribute for an astronaut!). My only disappointment was that Collins retired after being CMP on Apollo 11. He deserved a Lunar Landing and his account would have been electrifying.
I also unreservedly recommend this book-the hardback is especially nice!
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Jan. 2000
Format: Hardcover
Carrying The Fire is a personal story by the 'third man' of Apollo 11. Michael Collins is often sadly sidelined in many accounts of mankind's greatest adventure. But as command module pilot of Apollo 11 his job was the equal of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's.
Collin's is clearly a natural writer and his account of what it is like to be the only member of humanity to be totally alone is both informative and poignant. During the mission there was little time for him to reflect on the acheivement and significance of Apollo 11, but his retrospective view gives the reader a unique insight into the enormity of the undertaking. Collins' candid comments on his training and preparation for the mission show us at this thirty year remove, just how pioneering the whole of Project Apollo really was. These men were explorers as well as trained astronauts and Michael Collins was fully aware of this.
One particular passage stays in the memory - Collins knew that if anything went wrong on the lunar surface he had to be prepared to come back alone. As he says "I would have had to leave my crewmates to die on the Moon, whilst I flew home to safety. I would have been a marked man for the rest of my life"
As a long time fan of all thing 'spacey' I think Carrying The Fire is perhaps the most personal book I have read by any of the twenty four men who amazed and thrilled us all by journeying to the Moon.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 May 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the most entertaining and illuminating account of man's early exploration of space that I have read. Collins tells the story in a witty and often poignant way and is not afraid to provide the reader with a 'warts and all' approach to some of the most momentous events of the 20th century. It will be of interest to both students of the subject as well as those who were not born when man first walked upon the moon. I recommend it without reservation.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mr. K. Papas on 13 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The last book I read about the Apollo astronauts was the rather awful Rocketman (about Pete Conrad, commander of Apollo 12)so it was with a certain trepidation that I began this 500 page book. The first great advantage is that this has been written by Michael Collins himself and not by a Hollywood scriptwriter. His style is very accessible and you get a real feel for the man as he comes across as being tremendously self effacing and modest. He talks about his feelings and pulls no punches when talking about his colleagues, though he doesn't gossip he's merely honest. A most refreshing read which is highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Desmond on 7 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
I don't think I've ever had much interest in reading an autobiography before, but this book I really, really enjoyed. I found myself constantly telling my friends things I'd learnt from this book like "Did you know that astronauts get very dehydrated in space.. it's because.." or "did you know that when in space, they make their ship rotate very slowly so that neither side gets too hot in the sun?.. yep, just like a spit roast!". I think I will definitely read another astronaut autobiography, but I doubt anyone's will match this.

If you're interested in NASA's early days and space exploration in general, you should definitely read this book, because Collins makes it very clear how the space program worked, and how it was planned-out. He gives lots of technical detail on space flight in general: enough to keep a physicist happy (myself) but not too much to alienate a layman.

The book starts off describing his air force career, and how he tries very hard to become a test pilot. He then explains his career as a test pilot. He then explains his reactions to NASA announcing that they are hiring, and describes the application process (and his second). When he finally becomes an astronaut, he begins talking in more detail about technical and personal things. He talks mainly about the two flights which he flew: Gemini 10 (jam-packed with experiments, but mainly concluded that the Van Allen belt wasn't as radioactive as once thought) and Apollo 11 (the flight to land on the moon).

After coming away from this book, I feel like I understand and admire Collins. I was quite surprised by how little Collins talks of his wife and children, and how little he talks of politics (he says he was kind of oblivious to what was going on in the real world)..
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Martin McAdam on 6 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am fascinated by the whole Apollo program. It is hard to sometimes to break away from the test pilot, jet jock who becomes a space man. This book gives us Collins as a man. Yes the importance of all the hardware is still there but it does not get in the way of understanding the man. On one occasion he is asked to test a new arrest mechanism for jets. He fires up the jet - heads down the runway at the specified speed (test pilot attention to detail) and then heads off into the desert in a cloud of dust - the arrest wire did not engage! Why? He forgot to drop the hook! Classic. He is also very frank about the other astronauts in the programme - he even apologises when he has something negative to say. Collins a man grounded and comfortable in his own shoes. A great read.
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