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Rocketman: Astronaut Pete Conrad's Incredible Ride to the Moon and Beyond Paperback – 2 May 2006

11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: New American Library; Reprint edition (2 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 045121837X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451218377
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 857,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
It wasn't a very lucrative job, sweeping up the hangar, mowing the lawn, fueling up and washing down single-engine airplanes at Paoli Airfield just off the Main Line in Philadelphia. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tim Bentley on 5 Jun. 2006
Format: Hardcover
There's much that other reviewers have already said concerning accuracy and consistency, and of course the style of writing interlacing Pete's round the world record attempt in a Lear Jet with episodes from his past. I have to say I agree, the style doesn't really work for me (that doesn't mean to say that you might not like it), and the detail particularly when depicting Pete's space flights (the thing he was *most* famous for) was weak.

That having been said, the innate likability of the man shines through the text. He was clearly not overly impressed with himself and understood his limitations and his humanity. Most of all his self-deprecating humour caught my imagination - a case in point is the plate showing a photo of his self-portrait in the sand. I wasn't previously aware of his personal struggle with dyslexia, which makes his acheivements in the cockpit all the greater and his appointment as an astronaut amazing. I had heard the story of the Mercury selection and Pete's description of the blank rorshach card from another Astronauts biography, however, it was listed as 'rumour'. I wonder if it is fact or posthumous hearsay.

Pete's life was hard, but only in comparison to his origins, many people start in abject poverty and have to struggle, although I do appreciate that his family's fall from wealth galvanised the man into refusing to quit at anything (Mercury selection and the dreaded electronic probe notwithstanding - hey even Braveheart would have said "to hell with this!"). I felt that some parts of the book were necessarily understated, particularly in dealing with the death of his son - it was an almost Forrest Gump moment, "That's all I have to say about that".
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Feb. 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ignore the hard-nut, moody cover shot - Pete Conrad was the joker in the pack of the Gemini and Apollo astronauts. He probably burst out laughing after the camera clicked. This biography confirms that role as a man who was self-effacing but ambitious, laugh-a-minute but hugely talented.

The book adopts an unusual format by alternating chapters telling his life story and space missions with chapters describing a record-breaking round the world jet flight he was involved in much later in his life. This doesn't work particularly well; further detail of his space career would have made better use of those pages.

Any posthumous biography like this will raise questions as to the authenticity of quotes and detail of conversations, but I for one started the book knowing little other than the fact that he commanded Apollo 12 but ended it thinking what a great guy.

Conrad knew his share of sadness. The pages dealing with the death of his son bring a lump to your throat, but the other tragedy is that the genuine good guy revealed by this book is no longer with us to tell his own tale.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. Dobson on 8 July 2006
Format: Hardcover
Having read about the Apollo 12 relationships elsewhere (Chalkin, Moondust, and especially Al Bean's book*) I dived into this book hoping to hear more of the most likeable man in the most likeable trio in the whole Space Programme. Sadly the book is written in a very gung-ho manner which distracts from much of the achievements of Pete Conrad.

Pete should have been first on the moon. If the names and number had been shuffled slightly differently between Apollos 8 and 9 we would have had the First Man On The Moon NASA needed. That's not to detract from Mr Armstrong but it seems Pete Conrad proved you could be the best of the best and still be an approachable, likeable guy. Much of that still comes through in this book and for that reason I'll still give it 5 stars. It's just a shame the biographer that was used didn't know how to convey that sense of Right Stuff combined with Nice Guy without going all Hunter S-esque.

* - Buy All Three!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By gorbag on 16 July 2005
Format: Hardcover
I`ve read all of the biogs of the Apollo, Gemini and Mercury astronauts and this has to be the best written and most enjoyable account. Probably because it is about the most enjoyable astronaut! The late great Pete Conrad. Even if you aren`t that up on this topic it is still a fascinating read just for his life story and insights into his dynamic character. While other names such as Neil Armstrong took a lot of the glory Conrad (The third man on the moon) was one of the most successful astronauts of them all. Rejected by the selection process for the Mercury Program he went on to fly both Gemini and Apollo missions and was very instrumental in Skylab.
A great account of a great character.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter Turner on 1 July 2007
Format: Hardcover
I really wanted this to be a good book; but I was disappointed. Like a couple of the other reviews of this book, I found the narrative style the author uses awkward and distracting. There are quite a few inaccuracies in the book, some of them really obvious. For example (and I apologise for sounding like a pedantic 'plane spotter') the photo of Pete Conrad on the ladder of an aircraft that is described as '...a T-38, a high-altitude supersonic jet trainer'. No it's not, it's an F-4 Phantom. In 'Carrying the Fire', Michael Collins descibes astronaut Conrad as 'One of the few who lives up to the image.' With a great character and a greater story how could you not write a great book? I really hope the next biography of Pete Conrad will be much better.
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