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on 30 January 2002
This book is a joy for anyone remotely interested in the US space program. Kranz, a key member of mission control throughout the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs talks frankly about the people and technology directly involved in man's journey to the moon. Never getting loaded with technical jargon, Kranz has blended his personality into this hi-tech story to create an accessible and heart-warming read. His account of the fire of Apollo 1 is searingly painful for it's simplicity, the excitement of being Flight Director for the Apollo 11 moon landing like a beautiful scent wafting up from the pages of this book.
How wonderful also for him to acknowledge the invaluable role played by his wife, when so many other marriages in this stressful time were failing.
I agree wholeheartedly with the reviews on the back of this book - it is a very welcome addition the lore of manned spaceflight. A must for all those interested in this topic.
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on 6 April 2006
Gene Kranz was one of the original band of NASA flight directors, some readers may remember he was played by a white waistcoat-wearing Ed Harris in the film about Apollo 13. This book is for those of us that are slightly geeky with regards to the Space Race in as far as this is a technical and detailed account of what took place in the Mission Control Room while the mission was in progress. It is not a riveting read by any stretch of the imagination but it does offer the interested reader another take Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Gene Kranz is unashamedly patriotic and God-fearing with a slight propensity to describe almost all of his colleagues as all American heroes. Nevertheless, afficionados of this era of space exploration will find a lot in this book.
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on 24 September 2002
Ive read a few books on Americas space program and ive also read a bit on Russias space program. Some have been exellent and some have been bad written rubbish thats been told the same way over and over again with the same pictures and quotes. That is until I read Failure Is Not An Option!!
This to me is the gratest book EVER written on Americas journey to the moon.
Kranz starts off with the Mercury program in deatil then onto Gemini and finally to the greatest accomplishment of all time, stepping foot on the surface of the moon. It takes you through the high's and the low's of the program and takes each mission and explians it in great detail.
Gene introduces the astronauts as they really were,not how others or the press percieved them to be. Its truly remarkable to me how he can remember in such great detail each event in turn that happend with, say the armstrong gemini flight that nearly ended in disaster or the near fateful Apollo 13 mission.
Overall this is a must for fans of the space program or even if youve just seen Apollo 13 and want to know more. Reviewers who say its technical at times, are correct but Kranz does explain what abbreviations mean as you go through each chapter.
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VINE VOICEon 28 June 2007
Eugene Kranz is an unsung hero. Maybe most people are familiar with Ed Harris's portrayal of him in Apollo 13 but the man was around from the beginning of the space programme. We've already forgetten, all too easily, what an astonishing achievement NASA completed with the space programme in terms of technology. We forget also that the staff there literally invented the rules as they went along. But apart from all the engineering and science, there is the incredible way that they stood up to the pressure not just on the Apollo 13 mission but in other situations. In the thick of it all is Eugene Kranz. These days people in the UK are stupid enough to vote Queenie and Robbie Williams as the most important Britains ever. As an antidote read this and focus on someone who deserves our admiration.
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on 1 December 2005
I have read a lot of books about Apollo but this is the one i keep turning back to. Gene Krantz is simply a fascinating figure and his job in Mission Control the most exiting there was - Period.... Krantz writes with the passion that is burning within every good engineer and he writes in an easily readable style, yes there are a lot of tecnical "mumbo jumbo" in the book but the story is easily understood nevertheless. If you only want to read one book about Apollo it should probably be "Apollo, the Race to the moon" by Murray/Cox but when you've read that one and gotten hooked, this one would be am obvious number two.
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on 4 April 2009
...told in an utterly absorbing fashion.One gets the impression that Kranz is aware of how fortunate a working life he has had and tells us the story of it in compelling and gripping fashion.

He has been not only present but intrinsically important to some of the most seminal moments in not only scientific but human evolution and his story is one of intrigue and a burning desire to learn and grow.

He captures the blend of adrenalin, adventure and discipline that drove the extraodinary accomplishments of the era and turns a book that I had high expectations of into a must read addition to the genre.

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on 16 September 2002
Failure Is Not An Option is definatly one of the best books that I have read on the space program. It looks at the inside of the program and the men that held the huge responsibilities of the astronauts lives and mission plans in their hands.
Gene puts you in mission control, in the spacecraft, and in his mind and the minds of other controllers during mision successes and spectacular failures such as the Apollo 1 fire and also the near miss of Apollo 13.
This book is well written, technical at times,funny at times, but a truly brilliant book written about an extraordinary time. You get an insight into what it was like to work in mission control and the stresses it involved.
I could go on and on about this book but I wont drone on.Quite simply if you are interested in the space program you HAVE to buy this book!!
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on 16 July 2003
This excellent volume provides an insight into the project development and team building that supported the Mercury, Geminii and Apollo programmes.
Gene Kranz had an overwhelming commitment to his role within Mission Control but the narrative also reveals his ability to nurture those who followed him and the level of admiration he felt for everyone involved in the space programme. The details of mission planning and the emotions felt in times of celebration and tragedy are well docmented.
As a man, Kranz comes across as honest, genuine and loyal - he looks for the good in everyone.
To paraphrase Charlie Duke, the astronauts could not have made their spectacular journeys without the support of those on the ground - this book serves to illustrates the truth of this beyond doubt.
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on 27 August 2008
Gene Kranz does an amazing of showing what people can do if they have the right leadership, teamwork, commitment and passion.

The book allows us to see Kranz's perspective as flight controller, (and later flight director) during his tenure on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs and beyond.

From the tremendous successes, to the gut wrenching failures, to the heroism, to the practical jokes, this book has it all. Gene Kranz was a key player in helping to create a culture of Tough and Competent flight controllers who had discipline and morale. They knew the true meaning of teamwork.

One of the stories that impressed me most was after the devastating tragedy of the Apollo 1. A fire on the pad killed Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffe while they were training in the capsule. Afterwards Kranz got in front of his flight controllers and said:

"Spaceflight will never tolerate carelessness, incapacity, and neglect. Somewhere, somehow, we screwed up. It could have been the design, build, or test. Whatever it was we should have caught it."

Kranz and his people (as well as everyone else on the space program) took responsibility for their actions and went on to amazing successes. We crawled out the cradle of this home we call earth and explored another world. Twelve men in all walked on the moon. Also, three astronauts were brought back home safely from the brink of disaster in Apollo 13. We had truly gone where no man had gone before.

These were human beings, and they are the best of the best. Not an Astronaut was lost during any of the following Apollo missions. The tragedy on the pad drove the commitment of everyone on the space program to an entirely new level. As a matter of fact, not a man was lost once they left earth on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.

Gene Kranz sums up how he gained his skills to be a top flight director when he said:

"The flight director's ultimate training comes at the console, working real problems, facing the risks, making irrevocable decisions."

This book belongs on any bookshelf, but not to be looked at, but to be read and understood. We all have the makings of greatness, we just have to take responsibility for our actions and do the very best we know how. What other amazing things can we accomplish as a species if we have the right leadership, teamwork, commitment, and passion?

The Re-Discovery of Common Sense: A Guide To: The Lost Art of Critical Thinking
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on 22 November 2009
Gene Kranz' book reads like a crime story. It is among the best and most exciting book I have read until now on the US Space program. Kranz was not only a superb flight controller, he is also a master story teller. His style is crisp, clear and to the point but more often than not also spiced with little anecdotes that makes you smile. Much of what is here was not known before. One example: I did not know that an EVA to free the shroud of the ADTA "angry alligator" on Gemini 9 was suggested by high management in the MSC and then very seriously contemplated. All my sources say that such an EVA was just suggested and quickly dismissed. The EVA might very likely have led to huge problems or could even have killed astronaut Gene Cernan. This, and many other examples means that Kranz' book is essential historical documentation on the US Space Program, one that takes us directly into the rooms where critical decisions weree taken. Unreservedly recommended. You will not regret!
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