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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent tribute to a great man, 22 Aug 2013
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This review is from: It Came From Outer Space Wearing an RAF Blazer!: A Fan's Biography of Sir Patrick Moore (Paperback)
What a magnificent biography! Nothing turgid here. Martin Mobberley has written a "warts and all" life of one of our greatest citizens, one who graced our screens and whose works lined our library shelves for over half a century. It was always going to be difficult to balance the private life of an individual with that persona known to millions. However, as Martin accurately informs us in his biography, Patrick's life was an open book. He was the most generous of human beings, whilst never concealing his beliefs and attitudes. Be prepared for some revelations,some of which may not be flavour of the moment, but at the end of this read, Patrick is still the Patrick we loved over the years. Accurate and thoughtful revelations do not damage a reputation built on such a secure footing. Just take in what Patrick did for charities over the years. The author mentions them throughout the book. Also, Patrick's outstanding generosity, even to complete strangers, rises to the surface so often during the story of his life.

Martins's wonderful book is the result of over a decade of careful research, during which time he managed to interview many of those whose lives were touched in some way by Patrick. I know, I was one of them. Patrick for me was a hero of the first magnitude. His generosity was legendary and his influence far greater than he could ever have known. Martin's reports are always humorous, when appropriate, and as far as I can tell, they ring true with the Patrick known to so many.

The book is nicely produced, but why there is not a hardback option I cannot fathom. It contains some good photographs, covering the decades of Patrick's life very well. The front cover illustration is also well chosen. It captures Patrick's presence so perfectly.

The author's writing style is very relaxed and clearly, always that of a dedicated fan, who only wants to place before his readers the most accurate account of a life lived to the full, one which we all loved to read about at the time, but one that has now been set out in such a masterly fashion. Martin has filled in many of the gaps for so many of us who encountered Patrick over the years. We could not possibly have known so much about the man, but the author has managed to produce a engrossing account of the life of our greatest astronomical communicator, in chronological order from birth to his last days.

The author gives due attention to the influence of the British Astronomical Association on Patrick over the years, and his relationship with that respected organisation. We all know that "The Sky at Night" was a driving force in Patrick's life, but Martin carefully assures us that many of Patrick's BAA friends were key players, as guests, on that long-running (and still running) programme. It was a pleasure to read about the many astronomers who graced our screens over the years, jogging memories buried by years of constant advances in the fields of astronomy and space exploration.

Particularly valuable are Martin's lists of Patrick's favourite expressions, and the Appendix listings, notably that of Patrick's publications.

For any who have Patrick's books on their shelves, this is the time to dust them off (yes,some of them date from the 1950's) and enjoy that style of writing that launched so many of us into the void and prepared us for the Apollo era in particular. Martin's accurate account of Patrick's writings over the years is part of the chronological sequence in this book. As a result of the author's account, I ordered a tiny volume of Patrick's not on my shelves. There will be more added over coming months and years.

Be prepared to place on hold anything else you have planned for the near future, as you will not want to put this book down. You many wish to ration yourself to so many pages per day as, at over 650 pages, with index, you should be prepared for a good, long soak in the incredible life of Sir Patrick. I would not suggest rushing it. It took me ten days and I was not looking forward to finishing it. Given a suitable break from the immersion, I will read it again. It is nice to encounter a book that places other "pressing" duties on hold!

After reading this book, I would like to suggest the following as appropriate follow-up publishing ideas; a) a fully illustrated scrapbook format publication, featuring many of the tens of thousands of photographs in collections across the world featuring Patrick, fully annotated of course and b) a portfolio selection of Patrick's many observational drawings and notes across the decades, so that from wherever Patrick is now in this vast universe of ours, he could still exert an influence on generations to come. For the moment, however, inspiration can be yours if your read the book under review. I am sure that many will have their memories jogged by this biography and one would wish for a follow-up volume under the general heading "Patrick Remembered". Martin should write it! As it stands at the moment, this is a biography worthy of praise and comes highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Patrick Moore, warts n all., 29 Jan 2014
By 
K. J. Kilburn (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: It Came From Outer Space Wearing an RAF Blazer!: A Fan's Biography of Sir Patrick Moore (Paperback)
Martin Mobberley has done a superb job in researching and writing this book. Patrick was no saint but this book is true to his memory as a warm, generous man and a superb communicator. Perhaps published a bit too close in time following Patrick's death in December 2012 to be a definitive biography but certainly describes the Patrick Moore that I knew as an astronomer and socially over 45 years. A later edition could perhaps be better edited to tighten the narrative and avoid many repetitions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mobberley's biography of Patrick Moore, 6 Oct 2013
By 
Dr. Chris J. Lord "cjrlord" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: It Came From Outer Space Wearing an RAF Blazer!: A Fan's Biography of Sir Patrick Moore (Paperback)
This must have been decades in the drafting. Warts & all. I knew PM fairly well, and this biography is well researched, based on numerous personal contacts over a 30+ year period. It provides some illuminating insights it his life, and his at times over-bearing prejudices. Good to have the record put straight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read - difficult to put down, 8 Jan 2014
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Martin Mobberley's book lifts the lid on the enigma that was (and still is) Sir Patrick Moore.

Like all of the author's other books this is well researched, well written and often contains the dry humour that the author is known for.

Perhaps no one else can could have written such a book as Martin was very close to the centre of things - certainly in the latter years. A comment in another review that this book might be cashing in on the passing of the great man (in every sense of the term) is unfounded. It is a warts and all story - what a good biography should be about.

It is laid out well. I found it a very easy book to dip into and difficult to put down once I was in there. Events are laid out chronologically and the chapters are laid out in small easy bite sections that can be read in short bursts.

For many amateur astronomers like the author (and this reviewer) Patrick was the embodiment of amateur astronomy that drove hundreds, perhaps thousands of people to take up the hobby.

Patrick was a uniquely British phenomenon but that should not deter overseas readers (the English speaking parts of the world anyway) from learning about a tireless promoter for amateur astronomy and learn something about the man that he was.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An in depth look at a fascinating man, 17 Sep 2013
This book certainly isn't for those looking for an easy or quick read. Its also not a biography that just covers everything good about the man. This deeply in-depth look at Patrick Moore's life is incredibly detailed, covering every aspect of his life and leaves no stone unturned.

Overall it is an interesting read. My only gripe would be that it does ramble somewhat and go off on irrelevant tangents at times but it still remains, and will likely remain the most comprehensive account of the life of this remarkable man.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Patrick Moore biography?, 3 Sep 2013
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This review is from: It Came From Outer Space Wearing an RAF Blazer!: A Fan's Biography of Sir Patrick Moore (Paperback)
I'm sure that there will be several biographies of Sir Patrick Moore, the long-time presenter of the BBC's Sky at Night programme, who died in December 2012. Martin Mobberley is first off the mark with "It Came From Outer Space Wearing an RAF Blazer!: A Fan's Biography of Sir Patrick Moore" and I'm pleased to say Martin's book stakes a good claim to be the definitive volume. Martin, an ex-president of the British Astronomical Association, was a long-time friend of Sir Patrick, and a fellow lunar observer. There are few people better qualified to assess Patrick's legacy in the amateur astronomical community.

But the real strength of the book is that Martin has cut through the mythology which has built up around a very public figure. Patrick was a great raconteur, never short of a story, and over the years the tales he told of his earlier life have grown; he was also mischievous and not above creating fictitious alter-egos. Many of his stories - to take one example, Patrick accompanying on the piano as Einstein played the violin - were repeated uncritically in his obituaries. Martin carefully examines the claims one-by-one and debunks the myths; and there were a lot of them. It may be that Martin has unfairly dismissed a true story here or there, but I'd be surprised if that happened often.

This book is not a hagiography, but nor is it in any way a hatchet job. Patrick was a larger-than-life character who held some extreme views (verging on racism and misogyny) and could bear grudges for decades; but he was also a charming, gregarious and generous man who was unstinting in his help for his fellow astronomers, especially beginners and youngsters. Above all he was an observer, who enjoyed the company of other observers. And a biography written by a fellow observer makes it quite clear the esteem in which he was held by those who he helped out.

What about his relationships? I'll leave you to find out what Martin discovered about Patrick's fiancée, Lorna, killed during the second world war. The simple truth is that Patrick's longest and most important relationship was with his mother Gertrude; her presence and support enabled him to concentrate on his writing and broadcasting careers. Martin does a very good job in tracing the good fortune that brought Patrick the job as presenter of Sky at Night; and the extraordinary events of the Space Age that propelled Patrick to fame. Martin also gives an insight, based on personal experience, of what it was like to contribute to and appear on the programme.

The style of the book echoes Patrick's own style - excitable and enthusiastic. Another recent departee, Elmore Leonard, held that books should contain approximately two exclamation marks per hundred thousand words. Martin exceeds this quota within a page or two! There's a certain amount of repetition - I guarantee you will know Ethel Granger's waist measurement by the end of the book, and she is only a peripheral character - but in a book that seeks to cover a life in its totality, perhaps some restatement of facts is inevitable.

I recommend this book. I fear there may be other, less well-researched volumes in the pipeline. It is good to have a detailed, objective biography to judge them against.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An impressive effort by a fan who doesn't hide the warts, 27 Mar 2014
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I found this book surprisingly interesting despite the rather detailed account of every meeting of the BAA, every telescope, etc. It covers a profoundly exciting period when the exploration of space and advances in astronomy were taking place at an incredible rate and i was lucky enough to live through it. I confess that although Patrick Moore was a well known personality to me, i was never a fan of his - even as a kid reading his science fiction, I thought there was something wrong with someone who thought the moons craters were volcanic in origin! Of course although very interested in space (a real fan of Apollo, Voyager etc) and astronomy I was not an amateur observer and so did not appreciate Patrick's real strengths. Apart from observations, his ability to talk non-stop without an autocue was impressive. However he did become even more extreme in many ways in later life. Perhaps the most impressive feature of this book is that despite the fact that although the author is obviously a fan of Patrick's, he is not a sycophant and makes no attempt to hide Patrick's many warts. This makes the book a far more entertaining read and i would recommend it to anyone.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Authoritative Guide to Patrick's Life, 18 Aug 2013
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This has to be the most authoritative guide to Patrick's life, written by someone who clearly knew him very well, not only as a fan, but also as a friend. The level of detail and amount of information in the book is astounding...I just couldn't put it down. This is the book for anyone who wants to know the real Patrick.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Biography, 19 Aug 2013
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This review is from: It Came From Outer Space Wearing an RAF Blazer!: A Fan's Biography of Sir Patrick Moore (Paperback)
This book is without doubt the definitive guide to the life and times of Sir Patrick Moore. This is a book written by an amateur astronomer, about an amateur astronomer, for the benefit of other amateur astronomers. Therefore, is both an essential and compelling read for all amateur astronomers in the UK, as well as, fans of Patrick Moore. It is also a fascinating insight into the workings of the BAA and gives some insight into the leading figures of Britain's astronomical community. It belongs on the shelf of all astronomers and fans of Patrick Moore!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Patrick Moore Biography, 18 Aug 2013
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This review is from: It Came From Outer Space Wearing an RAF Blazer!: A Fan's Biography of Sir Patrick Moore (Paperback)
This biography of Sir Patick Moore is a detailed look at the life of the man in front of,and behind, the camera. The author, who knew him well for many decades underscores the tremendous drive and vigour that Moore had for the subjects of astronomy and space exploration.Moore's persona as an amateur astronomer and TV presenter was well known, but some aspects of his life remained a mystery even to those who knew him well. The author has revealed many of Moore's moods and motivations in astonishing detail.A must read account of the life of a man who was a constant presence on our TV screens for many decades. Highly recommended.
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