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on 23 January 2000
Forget the "attacks" on some other astronauts (and in my reading I found no attack on Jack Schmitt, quite the opposite). Forget just wanting to read about Apollo. DO read this book for a personal and honest account of how one man felt and how he journeyed from his roots to another world.
I grew up watching the space race from the UK and this account of it from the inside strikes true. I have read some other readers comments, who seem to think it was Captain Cernan's job to agree with them rather than say how he felt. I don't understand their desire for this.
I don't care that the author didn't get on with some of his colleagues - I don't get on with some of mine! For a truly genuine and exciting read, telling it from the heart and not from the populist point of view I have read little better about the USA space programme.
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on 19 November 2002
Eugene Cernan flew in space three times,twice to the moon. He was pilot of Gemini 9, Lunar module pilot of Apollo 10 and commander of Apollo 17. This is a book charting his missions and experiences from the early days of Gemini to the ultimate goal of landing on the moon. Bieng the last person to step foot on the surface.
It's one hell of a book! exiting and well written. Another book you won't be able to put down.
Only downside, picked up by other readers, is the lack of pictures from the missions and especially the final landing.
I didn't buy the book for the pictures. If you want pictures buy "A MAN ON THE MOON" the 3 volume set,but i'm not reviewing that. If you want a truly exiting,wild ride of book buy this one!!!!
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on 21 March 2006
Up there with the Michael Collins biography as one of the best astronaut books, this first-person tale of Gene Cernan's NASA career engages not least because of the drama of his three famous missions.
Co-author Davis has helped Cernan tell a complicated story in easy to understand language. Throughout, one picks up on the sheer enthusiasm of this astronaut: his awe and wonder at what he was lucky enough to do. Often self-depracating, he admits difficult moments - the horror of the spacewalk outside Gemini 9 and the frightening malfunction as he approached closer to the Moon than anyone before during Apollo 10, but conveys extremely well the controlled elation of the triumphant Apollo 17, including his and mankind's last steps on the Moon ... for now.
There are thirty-seven photos, the usual mix of family and space-related, the latter set containing little new for the Apollo enthusiast but no less relevant for that.
Do give this book a try. It's clear, interesting and bubbling over with enthusiasm.
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on 24 June 2001
I have read many books on the history of American manned spaceflight. This is one of the most enjoyable. Gene Cernan tells his own story in such a way that when you have to put the book down, you look forward to the next opportunity to carry on reading it. Many of the familiar historic events are there, told by the man who enacted them. Here is a proud ambitious professional and his story is fascinating. In the last few pages, one feels for Cernan. A man who pines for 'his' moon like a long lost love to whom he knows he can never return. Buy it. Read it. I promise you will enjoy it.
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on 24 October 2001
Having been a close follower of Lunar landings and space flight in general I was very keen to aquire the autobiography of my hero, Eugene Andrew Cernan. The book is an honest, open story of an ordinary boy who landed on the moon. Cernans desciptions of emotions as he passes through flight training, Gemini and Apollo are a pleasure to read. No technical claptrap, just the information you need to gain a fascinating insight to a remarkable man. The biggest problem with this book is simply not being able to stop reading it!
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on 7 November 2003
Fantastic reading for anyone interested in the Space Race of the 60's and 70's.
Gene Cernan is a true American Hero. His story gave a really good insight into his determination to succeed in life.
The story of his and the other familys having to endure the stress and worry of the space programme gave the whole book a more 'human' touch.
I also liked the 'no messing' approach to his 'lingo' in this book. One of my best reads to date.
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on 26 June 2001
No knocking Gene Cernan, his raw guts, determinantion and bravery shine through. Probably the most "human" account of the Apollo flights I've read to date. For me, as a working scientist, most telling is the clear gulf between the "Jet Jocks" and the scientists. Cernans comment about Deke Slayton fighting tooth and nail to try and keep the scentists off the missions is very revealing. This attitude probably helped put the nails in the coffin of missions 18 to 20 as it certainly would have alienated support in the wider scientific community.
A recommended read!
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on 15 April 1999
Gene Cernan's book is the best book about the Apollo moon landing program because it is the most humanistic of the bunch. Cernan tells us a little about his life, but only enough to get you to understand why he became an astronaut and not too much to bore you. He also keeps what is probably a sizable ego in check, which is something you don't see in other astronaut books, such as Shepard and Slayton's "Moonshot". He tells more about how his family (particularly his now ex-wife) was affected by his chosen career. But the descriptions of his troubles during the Gemini 9 moonwalk, the elation of coming within 50,000 feet of the moon on Apollo 10 and the culmination of it all by being named the commander (through a risky move) of the last moonwalk, Apollo 17 is some of the most interesting reading there is on the topic. In addition, he is candid about some of the problems he encountered with fellow astronauts, especially Buzz Aldrin. Most astronauts don't touch that topic in their books.
Overall, Cernan's book is a must read for all space exploration fans.
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on 14 December 2014
This is an absorbing book, giving a keen insight into the early days of manned spaceflight and a gripping account of Cernan's participation in some - at times - extremely hazardous events. His account of his Moon landing is especially vivid. Cernan is not afraid to say when he's frightened, he is honest when he himself makes a mess of things, and he does not gloss over differences with other astronauts. He is also candid about the single-minded, self-absorbed ambition which drove the first astronauts (and perhaps still does). Normal family obligations were pushed aside in the quest for a flight into space. They must have been difficult men to live with, and at times one gets the impression that the Gemini and Apollo designers' main problem must have been how to stuff two or three of these enormous egos into a small capsule.
Oh for someone as articulate as Chris Hadfield to be aboard Cernan's missions to relieve the simplistic banter which is all those crews seemed to be capable of!
Cernan's patronising dismissal of scientists is irritating: he seems to think that only 'Right Stuff' test pilots should have been allowed to venture into space or on to the Moon. While the earlier proving flights were very obviously the province of test pilots, by the time Apollo 11 had demonstrated that man could travel to, walk on, and return from the Moon, it was certainly appropriate for scientists to accompany the pilot of the lunar lander.
This is a 'must-read' book for anyone with an interest in space exploration. It is sad to reflect that the fickleness of public interest has allowed almost half a century to elapse since Cernan climbed back into a lunar lander for the last time, with no early prospect in sight for a return to our nearest neighbour in space.
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on 31 July 2008
When I started to read The Last Man on the Moon I wondered: What did it feel like to walk in space and on the moon? I got more than I bargained for. I enjoyed one of the greatest true adventures of all times when Cernan removed the shackles of the earth and took me to places where few have gone.

Cernan's book is exceptional at describing what it felt like to be an astronaut in the 1960s and what it was like to walk in space and on the moon.

One of the parts I could relate to best was his descriptions of a space walk during a Gemini mission and his moon walks. His descriptions of a pressurized suit that was tough to move and navigate in were amazing. As a diver who has been to places such as the Galapagos islands (with cold waters) I know what its like to have a life support system and bulky suit. Cernan's descriptions helped me understand (just a little) what it is like to walk in space and on the moon.

There were many close calls in the space programs that were truly nail biters. For example, during the Apollo 10 mission Gene Cernan discusses Tom Stafford and himself spinning out of control while just above the moon. The countless hours of training and razor sharp skills of the astronauts saved them. Stafford pulled them out at the last couple of seconds just before they would have crashed into the moon.

There were also stories of tragedies such as the loss of the three men in the fire of Apollo 1. Everyone on the space program was deeply saddened. Afterwards everyone's resolve to go to the moon safely reached a new level of commitment.

The book is definitely a page turner with many amusing antidotes. One story that sticks out in my mind is when Cernan explains that the early astronauts were like rock stars (they could do almost anything they wanted to). For example, they would let there wives know they were coming home in the evening by flying right over their homes with their jets before landing at a local base (a true flyby). Then they would jump into their Corvettes and drive like a bats out of h**l to their homes screeching into the driveways. This is stuff that legends are made of.

Cernan writing style is engaging and fascinating. He is both a strong Critical Thinker and philosopher rolled into one.

For example, in one telling excerpt he discusses the importance of going to the moon as a commander, not just walking on it. His thoughts are summed up when he says: "I have always believed that destiny is a matter of personal choice, where you carefully think out your decision, consider the downside, accept the risk of being wrong, and press on."

Cernan eloquently writes about his passion for space travel when he says: "Our legacy is that humans are no longer shackled to the Earth. We opened the door to tomorrow, and our trips to another celestial body will rank as the ultimate triumph in the Age of Achievement. And for the price, it was the biggest bargain in history."

He goes on to say: "Sometimes it seems that Apollo came before its time. President Kennedy reached far into the twenty-first century, grabbed a decade of time and slipped it neatly into the 1960's and 1970s."

I have been fortunate to meet Gene Cernan on a few occasions at Astronaut gatherings in the past couple of years. He is one of the greatest advocates for the space program and is a gentleman and a scholar. He still has a bounce in his step and a twinkle in his eye...and I wouldn't be surprised if he has a little mischief in him as well.

Once at a dinner I was sitting at Cernan's table and someone asked him whether seeing the moon was different from earth orbit or from the moon.

Gene Cernan got very quiet and thoughtful and said that it was entirely different. He went on to say that from orbit the earth is beautiful with its blue oceans, majestic large land masses and more. Then he paused and got very serious. He said from the moon the view of the earth was unbelievable. He went on to say that seeing this little blue ball that hung in black space by an invisible string (axis) that it turned on was unbelievable. You could see in his eyes that he had a life changing experience when he saw it from the front porch of the moon many years ago.

There are several excellent books on the early space program. The Last Man on the Moon is one of the best of the best.

The Re-Discovery of Common Sense: A Guide To: The Lost Art of Critical Thinking
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