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A Welcome Treat
on 7 October 2011
So long after the end of the Apollo programme, it's a treat to get another astronaut's memoir. I was particularly pleased to see this because I have always felt that Apollo 15 (Worden was the Command Module Pilot) was one of the most successful missions. 15 was the first of the extended "J" missions, doing much more science and including such additions as as the lunar rover (an electric car before its time) and Worden's own space walk, some 196,000 miles from home.
The biggest surprise was perhaps that this is a really good memoir. It reads well and still manages, even after all this time, to add something to your understanding of that magnificent achievement of going to the moon. It may be because of that time, giving some perspective, that this book succeeds - though it all still feels fresh. It may be because of Worden's role: the less publicised job of staying in orbit around the moon, minding the mother-ship and, for the first time on 15, doing a huge amount of science (the book is a great complement to Mike Collins' "Carrying the Fire", about the same role but written very soon after the first landing - an equally good but quite different book).
For Apollo buffs, there is a further bonus as Worden recounts previously untold details of the infamous postal covers story, a scandal that blighted the Apollo 15 crew after the flight. This is thankfully not allowed to spoil the main story but is still good to have in the open. If you're not familiar with this, don't let it put you off, this is first and foremost a pacy and readable account of an exciting adventure. It works either as a place to start reading about the men who went to the moon or as another piece in understanding the whole Apollo jigsaw.
I enjoyed this, all the more for it suddenly appearing as a new view on Apollo.