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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 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 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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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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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 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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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 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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