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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
As a young boy I watched the unfolding drama of the NASA missions and in later years have read and watched as much as possible on the subject. Gene Kranz's book is written with a passion that only comes from someone who believes in what he does. The book is not overly technical and is very easy to read at no time getting bogged down in unnessary details. I felt rather sad reading the last couple of chapters as the Apollo missions came to a premature end. You really do feel the grief felt by the people that made the whole thing possible and the utter feeling of being let down by a nation who lost the vision of space exploration.

If I have learnt one thing from this book it is that the world would be a much better place if we had a few more leaders and citizens from the same mold as Mr Gene Kranz, truly a man for whom Failure Was Not An Option.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 4 December 2002
Gene Kranz captures the drama and the tension of America's finest decade. This is not a historian's account (although the level of detail is impressive); nor is it a description of how the astronauts felt; it is the account of a man who was there at the time and covers his part in the program. Luckily, Gene, was there from start to finish. It tells how he and the controllers struggled to make the missions happen - dodging bullets and balancing risks, the successes and the failures. It also reveals an obvious frustration and anger over the betrayal of NASA in the seventies and lack of direction since. The breathless chapter on the lunar landing left me turning blue.
I cannot recomend this book highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2010
i bought my copy from the space centre in the usa, this is a really interesting book, if like me space still interests you after all this time some of the detail of the early mercury and gemini flights is invaluable history, the failures and succeses they had back then with what we would consider basic systems and stone age computers goes to prove that they were either very brave or insane. i can still remeber gene kranz from the apollo missions shown on the bbc when i was younger, (in black and white then) so reading this book was a real joy, a gripping true story written by the man who was really there 10 out of 10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2009
Forget all the theorists and manuals - what this is, without intending to be, is an inspirational account of how one man and a cast of thousands delivered the seemingly impossible. There are some fantastic quotes which are just breath-taking in their simplicity yet enormity "Knowing what we didn't know was how we stopped people being killed" is my favourite. This was not about Maslow, maximising productivity or leadership styles, it was about turning a dream into reality. Even if you see no benefits from space exploration, you cannot ignore it as the most amazing example of human ingenuity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2000
Many books reviewing the Apollo programme gives us some information on the actions performed in the MCC. This one gives you the most complete picture yet given. I really enjoyed reading Mr. Kranz' account on how he and the other controllers worked real hard to send men to the moon.
This is the account on how some few men provided the skills and knowledge to fullfil president Kennedys dream and how they work the problems and crises that arouse.
I will highly recommend this book. It provides the space enthusiasts with behind-the-scene stories that cannot be found in other books yet written.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon 12 December 2002
The fact that Apollo 13 did not appear in the book until page 306 of 380 pages put a great deal of NASA and their missions in perspective for me.

Apollo 13 is well known by those who remember, and a generation that learned about it through the movie, and great books like, Tom Lovell's, "Lost Moon",. I hope as many people know about the tragedy of Apollo 1, and The Challenger is still rather fresh in the public's mind.

Apollo 13 was an incredible accomplishment by all involved, and the 3 men who persevered to make it back are nothing short of remarkable. Those on the ground took everything so personally, but the crew actually had to live through it. However, the book puts this mission into perspective by taking the reader through the Mercury and Gemini programs as well.

Alan Shepard was the first to climb on a rocket that had a bad habit of exploding. I don't know what the "Right Stuff" actually is, but he had to made from it. And the Mercury Astronauts that followed all had experiences that were way up on the terror scale for non-astronauts/test pilots. That is one of the most eye opening parts of this book, every mission was so new, that the majority had problems that were potentially fatal.

You will read about the first moon landing, I never knew what happened on that one. Manned mission hit by lightening, a mission coming back with engines still on because who knew if the heat shield was still there. Every mission is just incredible from the complexity, and despite this, the rate of success.

I especially admired the manner that Mr. Kranz discussed the blown hatch on Gus Grissom's flight. The movie did a grave injustice to a man who subsequently died doing his job. The factual stories are incredible, taking liberties with what happened for dramatic effect are not necessary, and, in this case cruel.

The way the Mission Control people worked together, trusted one another, and took responsibility for their actions, is better than any management book I have ever read. The young age and the responsibility that people in their 20's had was remarkable.

Mr. Kranz and all those like him are role models; their integrity and personal commitment were total. They gave this Country over a decade, a type of pride that was unique, and they did it with a special kind of class.

Long before the politicians got around to it, this group was far ahead of the human relations curve. The final Lunar Landing included a gesture that could only be made by the USA, as we were the only Country to plant 6 flags there, and had the selflessness to pay tribute to a group that you will have to read the book to learn about. I don't believe many Countries would have done it, and I suppose it really was not a Country, as much as the men and women acknowledging what is and what is not important.

An exceptional memoir!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2001
Having always admired Gene Kranz (even before the film Apollo 13 made him known to a wider public) this book was an absolute must immediately I first heard of it. I was not disappointed.
The tale captivated and amazed leaving the reader full of the deepest admiration for those who not only put their lives in the hands of their craft and their ground crew in humankind's first steps into space, but also for the ground staff who had those men's lives in their hands; for the flight teams who had to interpret the data correctly and make instant recommendations for action; and for the Flight Directors themselves who had to trust their teams implicitly to provide the data on which to make decisions that would kill or save men's lives.
Other reviewers have described Kranz's style as less than perfect but this seems to me to be subjective. I found the book easy to read and full of a wealth of information on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programmes. Indeed, I found myself wishing for more.
Kranz was (and I believe still is) something of a "hard man" but his honest feelings for the crews he was privileged to serve and, in particular the Apollo 1 crew so tragically killed, remind one that space exploration will never be routine and that it will always take courage both on the part of those who fly the missions and the ground staff who launch them and bring them safely home.
If you have any interest in the early space programmes you must have this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2010
A fascinating account of Gene's involvement in the space programme starting with joining the Space Task Group and the early days of NASA. It describes each mission in Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, as well as ground support around the world.
There's a good level of technical content as well as some more personal moments.
It's well written and easy to read, and I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in the US space programme.
It is also an interesting account of teamwork, leadership, project management and mission critical systems.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 April 2013
Anyone interested in the pionering of Space should have this book.A lot of explaining of how thay did it with the help of computers with less capacity then today calculators. The commitment of thousands of menn and women devoted to get a few safe back to earth. A must...
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on 1 December 2014
Another one of those books you read quickly because you can't put it down. The book starts where he finds himself out of work after the Korean war, right through his NASA career and after the final Apollo mission. It's mainly told from the viewpoint within mission control, explaining some of the technical aspects of the various missions, some of the controls in the spacecraft and control centres, the colourful characters in the various departments, mission simulations, faults and problems and a view of the astronauts' and families side of things.
I don't know if Kranz uses a ghost writer or did it all himself, but the writing is very easy to absorb, is written in a natural flowing manner and explains technical or unusual words in a sensible way that doesn't condescend or patronise the reader.
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