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Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2013
Having literary just finished reading this book, I thought I'd give my perspective as someone who has read his fair share of material relating to the space race of the 1960's-1970's.

To say I was exited upon hearing this book was soon to be published is something of an understatement. John W. Young's experience in manned space exploration is second to none, and it's all captured here in detail.

Is it a little heavy on the technical side of thing's...perhaps, but this was also the case with Mike Collin's `Carrying the fire' in this case mind I was expecting it as anyone who's ever heard of John Young's infamous `Youngrams' will know he is regarded as something of a stickler for details.

Does it contain mistakes...yes, but again anyone with enough knowledge on this subject should be able to spot them quite easily, and for me personally (even though their presence is indeed perplexing) they do not detract from the overall experience of the book.

What I like in reading such books (besides the historical reference) is to get a sense of the subject's personality and in this `Forever Young' does deliver. It is John Young's tenacity and determination that really shines through in the pages of this book.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, though the comparatively high level of technical detail means it's not as easily accessible as the likes of say Gene Cernan's `Last Man on the Moon' or Deke Slaytons `Deke' it still however manages to be an enjoyable and informative read and the epilogue is both inspiring and sobering in it's parting message.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 February 2013
I was desperate to buy this in hardback when it was released, but decided to wait as I knew I was getting an electronic reader for Christmas, so naturally it was the very first Kindle purchase I made.

I don't want to get into my thoughts specific to the Kindle version, though I was a little disappointed with the quality of the photographs.

The book itself is very good indeed for anyone who has an interest in the American space program, and lets face it, no one can boast more involvement at the `sharp end' than John W Young. However, I think it drifts a little once we get into the routine part of the Space Shuttle years. Yes I know that the space shuttle was never routine - so what I mean is after the testing of the vehicle up to the point where it was made operational.

The discussion of the Gemini and Apollo years though are over too quickly, though this is where my main personal interest lies, and could be down to my looking for more operational details rather than that covered in his lengthy managerial career.

There is - for me - too much discussion of specific technical issues that many of the shuttle missions had, though this comes across as a strong anti government message who we see gradually reducing NASA's funding which Young will tell you compromised safety, and definitely put paid to the dreams and plans of the early space pioneers. He asks repeatedly where would we be in space today if the impetus started by JFK had been continued.

The Challenger and Colombia accidents though are covered really well and from a perspective that differs from alternatives, while not really telling me anything I didn't already know. The facts are presented in such a way - from the point of view of a manager (JWY) who was not fully in the know, who could certainly have made a difference if he had had all of the facts. Sobering stuff...

Young gets into some of the technical side in some depth, but I was left wanting a little bit more of the `awe' that some of his contemporaries have shown in their respective books. I suppose I never should have expected this though, as the author confirms ones impression of the cool, laid-back individual he remains.

Don't expect too much detail on the personal side of his life, both major relationships are discussed in only several lines, though other astronauts have gone too deep here (and some have got it just about right), and too much of this is not what I expected to find anyway; sentiment would not reflect the character of the author.

This is really well written; the epilogue in particular is stirring, and does have parts where you cannot put it down even though you will probably know what happened next. There are several errors which is a little surprising, but do not let this put you off what is an excellent read.

Even if you are not a space aficionado, you cannot fail to be impressed by the modesty, tenacity and genuine desire to `get it right' which comes across very strongly throughout the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2013
A fascinating insight into the world of spaceflight and astronauts. Bringing back memories of watching many of the events on TV as they occurred. You are right there with John as he flies Gemini and Apollo and walks on the moon. I can almost taste the moondust on his spacesuit.

However, the latter half of the book becomes very technical and presents statistics with an assumption that the reader knows the meaning. No doubt many readers will be pilots or aerospace engineers, but equally many may simply be curious about the career of an astronaut.

An interesting contrast between the race to the moon and the shuttle with a look at Apollo 1, 13, Challenger and Columbia. The fat bureaucratic NASA putting cost before lives compared to the organisation that put men on the moon. You can share the author's frustration as proposal after proposal to make the shuttle safer is ignored.

Overall an enlightening insight to the world of test pilots and astronauts only spoiled in the second half of the book by endless statistics and pilot talk that leaves earth bound readers, well earth bound. I would like to soar with you John, but I don't know how.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 October 2013
Why unique? Well, as some readers of this review will already be aware, that John Young is the only man to have flown on Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle. He is therefore ideally placed to provide an insider's insight into a very large part of the US space programme. Having already read much about Gemini and Apollo, I found the extensive coverage of the Shuttle particularly interesting. Covering events from the early test flights to the Columbia disaster, there is much to learn from Young's first-hand account.

Like many other astronaut memoirs, the author recounts his early life (growing up, like many of the other astronauts, in hard times). He then goes on to describe his military service and very long career as an astronaut. Young's writing style is workmanlike but not inspired, and I could not help wondering what the end result would have been with prose like that of Michael Collins (author of the superlative Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys) used to describe what it was like to walk on the Moon. Overall, though, an essential purchase for space fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2013
All the usual stuff for an astronaut's life story, and his flights from Gemini to Shuttle.No real surprises here, but fascinating nonetheless. Then the second part of the book lifts the lid on the short-sightedness of the NASA management, which reveals how they were lucky to only lose two shuttles...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2013
I would recommend this book to all those who have interest in the early astronauts and moonwalkers. Those in the know will appreciate John Young's career includes Gemini, Apollo and STS flights. Five stars without hesitation for this book! You won't be disappointed.
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on 14 November 2014
Another interesting autobiography from one of the true early space pioneers. I would split John Young's book into three sections: 1. pre-astronaut; 2. Gemini and Apollo; 3. Space Shuttle STS. The first two sections are fascinating. The section on the space shuttle, however, is somewhat boring, and I found myself quickly skimming over large chunks. He goes into far much technical detail. I think the book is worth reading, but it falls short of Al Worden's fine autobiography, and Gene Cernan's too.
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on 21 November 2014
A fascinating account of the career of an astronaut who pretty much did it all, including walking on the moon as Apollo 16 Commander and piloting the first Space Shuttle into orbit.

There's a bit more technical detail than in some of the other astronaut biographies I've read, but still a great read nevertheless. The co-author, James R Hansen, penned "First Man" so you know this is going to be good.

If you're into space then this is well worth investing in.
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on 16 April 2014
Very good book. However it had me confused at the beginning where there is a reference to the three legs of the LM? It detracted from the book somewhat as I kept expecting a follow up explanation. Also Young 's reference to Fair-field landing strip in England. Could he mean Fairford?
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on 28 April 2015
Good but not great. I agree about the comments regarding the Space Shuttle section. It's a little technical and a little dull. The man is a legend though, and any Apollo collection would be incomplete without this.
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