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Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon [Hardcover]

Craig Nelson
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon 3.9 out of 5 stars (12)
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Book Description

25 Jun 2009

On 20 July 1969, man set foot on the moon. Motivated by politics, faith, science and wonder, the Apollo 11 mission was the greatest technical achievement of all time. It was the culmination of over a decade's worth of money and effort from more than 400,000 staff and crew.

Rocket Men follows the astounding story of the lunar project, beginning at its inception at the start of the Cold War and tracing it through to its finest hour with the first moon landing and the astronauts' safe return. Through extensive interviews with astronauts, NASA staff and their families and never-before published documents, Craig Nelson presents an awe-inspiring human account of the voyage that changed the course of history. He takes us behind the scenes at Mission Control to describe every detail of the mission, from the astronauts' moon excursion suits, which had five hundred parts and weighed no less than fifty pounds, to terrifying revelations, such as how Armstrong and Aldrin could have been left stranded on the moon when a vital switch snapped on the landing craft.

Rocket Men is the inside story of one of the most perilous and rewarding undertakings in history.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 404 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books; 1st Edition edition (25 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021031
  • Product Dimensions: 3.6 x 16.3 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 932,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'I was there, kneeling, unable to breathe, before a television screen, watching Armstrong step off Eagle onto the regolith. I read [Rocket Men] in the same mood of boyhood wonder. So should you' (Sunday Times)

'Craig Nelson tells the tale in a way that seizes the spirit of the age' (London Review of Books)

'Rocket Men is particularly good at unpicking the tangle of motives behind kennedy's decision to send a man to the moon ... A punchy, popular history ... gripping, geekily detailed accounts of what it was like to ride a Saturn V or walk on another planet are interspersed with an equally lively take on the cold war strategising behind the mission' (Financial Times)

'Anyone with an ounce of poetry in their soul would have to concede that reaching the moon really was a giant leap for mankind. For the sheer drama, majesty and improbability of it all, it's a story that will be told time and time again. But rarely as well as this' (The Sunday Business Post)

'Spectacular' (Vanity Fair)

'With Nelson's impeccable research, his ability to tie the myriad strings of the space race into a coherent whole and the power of the story itself, Rocket Men should be at the top of your book list' (New Scientist)

'As good an introduction as any to mankind's greatest adventure' (BBC History Magazine) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A pilgrimage into the unknown

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A good read but littered with errors 29 Dec 2009
I enjoyed reading this book immensely - it is well written and really gives a sense of excitement about the Apollo programme.

However, be wary of the many factual errors that run throughout the book. I'm no scientist, and so at first I noticed nothing wrong. However, it struck me as odd that Nelson describes the launch of Apollo 4 as the following:

"Two F-1 rockets abruptly quit during liftoff, at which point the stack pulled a U-turn and headed screaming back at the ground"

That concerned me because when I searched the web for factual accounts & videos of Apollo 4, the launch is described, and indeed even filmed, as a perfect flight. How could such a glaring falsity make it into a (supposedly) thorough account of a scientific era?? It seems that the book was rushed to capitalise on the 40th annivesary of Apollo 11. Digging a little deeper I found a scientific community in absolute outrage at the number of mistakes in this book!

If you're a non-scientist and a complete newcomer to Apollo, it is an enjoyable read, but do not take every word for fact, as there seems to be an enormous community of people complaining about the lack of detailed research that went into this account of Mankind's greatest achievement.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Craig Nelson does a fine job in recounting the story of the first men on the moon. His work involves an enormous amount of detail and quotes from all people involved.
The book sub-divides into three parts. Part One tells the story about the Apollo programme right up to 12 seconds after the lift-off of Apollo 11. Part Two deals with the history of "rocket science" and Part Three deals with the actual flight of Apollo 11 to the moon and back again and with the aftermath.
What bothered me about the book is that I feel that Part One is simply too long. I guess the author intended to build up the suspense towards the launch, but he takes a lot of time getting there and because of this long introduction he lost my interest quite a few times on the way.
The other thing which I found wanting is his description of Wernher von Braun's activities during Nazi Germany. Of course it is obvious that neither von Braun (at the time) nor his descendents would be keen to talk about this issue but a good deal is known about it - I have seen a number of television programmes on this issue. I am sure the author could have added more detail on this issue. Some reviewer here said that some of the research done by the author on the Apollo programme appears to be faulty but if you are not an expert on these matters you will find it impossible to verify whether that's true or not.
Finally, it is a readable story but you should take it with a pinch of salt.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A. J. Sudworth VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Sorry to gush but this was a really great read. The way its told, with quotes from the people involved, really brings this to life. There is plenty of techncial detail as well but what comes across from this book was the people involved. Its made the whole wonder of the Apollo story personal and really seemed to give you the hopes and fears of the all the 400,000 involved. I really like the achknowlegment that the three astronauts of Apoolo 11 were the 'tip of the spear' and it took years of hard work to make the whole thing happen.

I remember watching the pictures from the Apollo 11 moon landing and being fascinated. This book gives you how it happened, who made it happen and just how seat ofthe pants it really was. Boys Own stuff indeed - read this and see just what we can do if we try hard enough
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great 21 Sep 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I think it is barely an exaggeration to say 50% of this book is actually quotes - this irritated me at first, but I eventually came to realise that this wasn't a lazy writer padding out a book with other people's words but the quotes were essential to telling the story well. I was often amazed, reading this, that those NASA people thought of everything - there are countless little mundane things that I learned about the Apollo missions. Also lots of nice anecdotes. One stand-out point is that the author observes that the whole moon-landing missions, corrected for inflation, cost the same as about 500 days fighting the recent war in Iraq. That is mind-blowing! It doesn't seem so much when put like that.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Rocket men don't quite take off 21 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If the Saturn V rocket had been as badly put together as this book, they'd still be picking up pieces of Neil Armstrong from Miami Beach. It's a great story - to boldy go to the moon, fuelled by Cold War rivalry and American 'get up and go'. There's the almost autistically single-minded Neil Armstrong, the ex-SS 'rockets come before everything' Werhner Von Braun, and the cringingly self-seeking President, Richard Nixon. Who could fail with this brew of a great story and oh-so-larger-than-life characters? Well, sadly Craig Nelson can. And largely because he has not really written a book, but rather collated a collection of notes. There are great chunks of often irrelevant quotes; the narrative inexplicably jumps from one topic to another; chronology is only vaguely applied, and large parts of the plot are missing (what, for example, happened to most of the early Apollos - I had to resort to Wikipeadia to find out). The writing style also leaves much to be desired, coming with a rich crop of cliches - 'Neil Armstrong was a test pilot's test pilot, an aeronautical engineer's engineer, and a loner's loner'; hyperbole - 'In fact the number of concerns about this first voyage to another celestial body was as infinite as dark matter'; and Star War's speak - 'The graviatational warp in space time then threw it like a slingshot to the dark side'. The lack of care taken by the author and his editors also shows in some factual errors - despite Nelson's claim at one point, the Russians were not in a position to send a man to the Moon in the aftermath of a failed Apollo 11 mission, nor indeed was Transylvania a part of Germany in 1894 (or at any other time).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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4.0 out of 5 stars When the curves lined up
(Note: This review is of the U.S. edition of the paperback.

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Published on 16 Dec 2011 by Joseph Haschka
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best so far
Having read a few books on the Apollo missions i stumbled across this and its a great read. It covers loads of information about the cold war and rocket development leading up to... Read more
Published on 24 Sep 2010 by A. G. R. Owen
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent journey
As a previous reviewer fittingly said, this is a great one stop shop for reading about the Apollo 11 mission. Read more
Published on 20 Oct 2009 by Mr. Glenn Dollard
5.0 out of 5 stars To The Point And Highly Readable
Rocketmen is one of those deceptively big books, both in gross word count and subject matter, that is highly readable. Read more
Published on 28 July 2009 by Aaron
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book.
If you want to know the story of Apollo 11, this book is for you. This book has no filler content just completely to the point. Read more
Published on 27 July 2009 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Completeness
This book is the perfect one stop shop for people wanting to read the full story behind the Apollo 11 mission. It is thorough and yet very readable. Read more
Published on 23 July 2009 by Mr. D. Hickey
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