35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2007
In the Shadow of the Moon by Francis French and Colin Burgess is the next book in the Outward Odyssey series that started with the April 2007 release of their book Into That Silent Sea. That book has received high ratings not only from those who have read the book but also by those who lived it. Just take a look at the reviews left on this webpage for that book. The authors of these two books gained much of their information from first hand interviews given by the men and women of the early Space Program.
In the Shadow of the Moon picks up the story of the Space Race right where Into That Silent Sea left off (although both can be read as separate, stand alone books) I like that the book has been written in chronological order. At first it might seem strange that the manned Gemini missions of Gemini 3 through Gemini 12 were detailed with out any chapters about the Russian flights but that is how it happened. The Russians flew no missions in the 20 months that the Americans were flying the Gemini Program.
In Shadow of the Moon covers all of the Gemini Missions and the early Apollo Program as well as the Russian flights of the same timeline. The Gemini Program was a great success but only after some close calls and hard work were the Americans ready to move on to Apollo. But did they move too fast?
Before I read this book I thought the best account of the Apollo 1 fire was from Jim Lovell's Lost Moon but I must say that French and Burgess have a more detailed account of the fire. The loss of the Apollo 1 is covered in the chapter titled The Risk Stuff. After detailing the events of that evening French and Burgess let others who were there tell their stories. Those people include Robert Stevenson. Robert was one of the last people to have contact with the Apollo 1 crew. Others that share their accounts of that night include Dee O'Hara, Hank Waddell, Sam Beddingfield, Gerald Griffin, Gene Kranz, Paul Haney, Jack King, Don Gregory, Richard Gordon, and Lola Morrow. Their accounts are one of the most touching parts of this book.
The Russians were not without their own setbacks. Soyuz 1 tragedy was as big of a setback for the Russians as NASA's Apollo 1 fire but new details of the Soyuz 1 flight are brought forth in In The Shadow of the Moon. Many people feel the lessons learned by the Apollo 1 fire saved the lives of other astronauts and in a way Komarov's sacrifice also saved the lives of at least three other Russian cosmonauts. The book also lays to rest some myths of that Soyuz flight.
The flight of Apollo 7 has become known as the flight where the astronauts and Mission Control did not work together as a team but there was much more to that flight. Yes there was some tension between the spaceship and Mission Control but the chapter on Apollo 7 focuses more on how the crew and flight controllers worked together. It also gives a great insight to how the crew felt after being told they had a flight, and then did not have a flight, only to learn they were to fly the first mission after the Apollo 1 fire. Pressure was on this crew to perform and save the Apollo Program. The chapter on Apollo 7 also reveals the life of Donn Eisele. Donn has often been called Mr. Whatshisname but after reading this book you will know who Donn was.
In The Shadow of the Moon also tells the life stories of some of astronauts that passed away before they had the chance to tell their own stories. Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee lost their lives that day. While Betty Grissom and Donald Chaffee wrote books about these men I don't remember reading a book written by a family member of Ed White. This book will help you understand just who Ed White was. And it tells the history of those who would rather not write a book themselves. Those include Jim McDivitt, Bill Anders, and Rusty Schweickart. I especially liked the chapter on Apollo 8. It is mostly written from Bill Ander's perspective. Jim Lovell and Frank Borman have written their own books so it was great to read about the mission from Bill's point of view. Bill also reveals his thoughts on his crew's abilities to fly that mission and some might be surprised by what he had to say about Frank Borman's thoughts on the amount of training Jim Lovell received before being assigned to Apollo 8 as a replacement for Mike Collins. The Apollo 9 chapter is also written from Rusty Schweickart's perspective. There was much more to the Apollo 9 mission than Rusty's bout with space sickness. That chapter also reveals just how much Rusty sacrificed so that NASA could learn more about space sickness.
In the Shadow of the Moon has a great dedication to Dee O'Hara and Walt Cunningham has written a perfect foreword for the book. If you are looking for a book filled with dates and facts and rehashed figures then this book is not for you. This book focuses more on the people who were the space race. This is why I think Walt wrote the perfect foreword. He started out by saying that thirty years ago he was identified as an astronaut and was often asked, "Which one are you". He ends the foreword by making the statement "I hope you enjoy getting to know us as individuals in the pages of this book". That sums up what this book is all about.
I also look forward to reading the next installments in the Outward Odyssey series. The next book will cover the manned lunar missions. You might also look for another book in this series that will be co-written with two Skylab astronauts.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2007
I'm on the last few pages of the book and I must say I hate to see it end!
In particular, I thought the Gemini section was brilliant! Along with quite a few missing links from otherwise well-documented tales, what I really enjoyed were the unique and exclusive comments from some of the astronauts who flew the missions, especially those of Stafford and Cernan. This not only lends credibility to the book, but it also brings the reader to the "inside" of the stories.
I've always felt that Donn Eisele was sort of The Invisible Man on Apollo 7 because so little has been written about him. But now, I have a much more complete picture of his personality, his domestic challenges, his professional aptitude, etc. Donn's a complete member of the crew in my mind now! I thought Walt Cunningham's comments were extremely helpful by providing the reader with an insider's view of key events surrounding the Apollo 7 mission.
This book really goes a long way in quenching the thirst for those of us who are "space literate", but I can see where it would fun to read and informative for those who wouldn't know Neil Armstrong from Lance Armstrong.
Lastly, the authors never let us forget that there were real human beings flying in those spacecraft; not robots programed to perform their tasks until their batteries died. To me, that is probably one of the key things that makes this book special.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2007
This book is a very informative and good read - not only for those interested in space/the space race but for anyone interested in people.
What motivates such very different individuals to put themselves in such dangerous situations one can glimpse in this book. How they remained so focused, professional and humerous in extreme conditions is beyond me.
A very well written book that I recommend to those of us who remember these times - and - for others it will take you for a most enjoyable journey back in time.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2008
What authors French and Burgess have managed to accomplish with their book "In the Shadow of the Moon" is a sense of being there.
This book transcends a third-party recounting of events. French and Burgess have created an extraordinary interface between the reader and the people sharing their stories. "In the Shadow of the Moon" does an exquisite job of bringing us into the fold, allowing a rather personal access to these astronauts' lives and innermost thoughts: helping us to better understand an experience we will never have ourselves.
The authors' skillful marriage of informing and storytelling help to ensure that it is a book that will be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of their interest level in space history. The authors did an excellent job of introducing background information on a mission, and then following it up with personal interpretation by someone who was there. The authors' thorough research is apparent, but it is woven so well with the narrative that it allows the reader to simply take it in, absorbing it effortlessly.
By writing this book, French and Burgess share with humanity that which few have experienced. But more than that, they help us all understand a little better the magnitude of our venture into space: the accomplishments of the few, holding meaning for us all.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2007
French and Burgess have written yet another excellent book. In this latest, they bring to light the lives and stories of the lesser-known astronauts and cosmonauts as well as others participating in those early years. Rather than stressing the different country's programs, the authors tell the stories of Earth's early space endeavors. The indepth stories of Russia's early space program and those who flew were fascinating.
The report of the Apollo 1 crew and the fire was accurate and thorough. I was especially pleased to see how well they brought the story of Roger Chaffee, who was the newest and youngest (at that time) astronaut, to light. Few know that Roger was still two weeks short of his 32nd birthday that terrible, fatal night and yet had accomplished so much in his naval career and in his influence on the space program.
French and Burgess bring the history of space flight to life. I eagerly await another exceptional book from these authors.
Kate Cooper, Apollo 1 Memorial Foundation
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2007
It has been almost 50 years since mankind first slipped the bonds of earth to explore the heavens. Since then, space exploration has given us some of the most spectacular and memorable moments in history from
the first moon-landing on Apollo 11 to the drama of Apollo 13 and the devastation of the Challenger and Columbia disasters. The material already written on these programmes would likely stretch from here to the
moon, and many would be forgiven for assuming that there's nothing new to write on the subject. However, authors Francis French and Colin Burgess have found a new angle and made a most worthy contribution to the
history of our greatest adventure.
What separates "In the Shadow of the Moon" from many other books on the space programme is that it focuses on the men and women who made it all possible. This is a people's history of space and examines that magnificent race from the perspective of those who lived it and did it: whether running the programmes or riding the rockets. Through their genuine interest in the subject matter, Burgess and French won the trust of the astronauts, cosmonauts and the lesser-known or forgotten space pioneers who toiled behind the scenes. The reward for their dedication and sincerity were stories that in many cases have never been told before and provide a fresh perspective on the early days of spaceflight. The end
result is a book that ranks amongst the very best written on the subject.
Not only does this book provide a most welcome perspective on a truly remarkable endeavour, but it is also extremely well written and thoroughly readable. This book transports you to a time when the two great superpowers were competing for control of the ultimate high ground while the rest of the world watched in awe and perhaps bewilderment. It proves that while the men and women who rode these rockets were indeed the best, bravest and brightest of that or any other time, they were also mere humans with their own foibles, insecurities, peculiarities and
If you want a truly human history of spaceflight, this book is amongst the very best available.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2008
I have now read both 'Into that Silent Sea' and ' In the Shadow of the Moon'. Undoubtedly the pair represent an opus magnum, especially as they are given added authority by the comments of the participants in the early attempts to conquer space. The detailed accounts of the flights and the biographies of the crews are clearly the result of deep research by the authors over, it seems, a period of decades. I must presume that those readers, who know an infinite amount about the subject more than I do, will identify and vouch for the authenticity of the data, which I am completely unable to attempt. The two volumes are therefore a historical landmark for future generations similar to our seeking sources of the current affairs in the time of the Venerable Bede.
Until now the names that have been mentioned to me in the past have meant as much to me as the characters in the books by Tolkein, no book or film of whom I have ever read or seen. I now, however, have two volumes of carefully compiled references, to which I can turn to mitigate my almost complete ignorance of the space race. I must confess, for people of my vintage and background, it is not easy simply to pick up either volume and readily comprehend the intricate demands on the creators of the spacecraft and on the crews. For those among you who have a deep knowledge of the subject, the resolving of the technical problems and the remarkable courage of the crews will be a constant fascination, of which you will undoubtedly always wish to recall.
Within my orbit of knowledge, I can honestly comment that the books are very well and clearly written and the subject matter has been compiled in a most orderly manner. At no time did I have to wonder how the next aspect followed on from the former; so even a complete novice to the material as myself could follow the trend, objectives and development of the technical programme and the building of the physical capabilities, experience and knowledge of the crews.
In short I heartily congratulate the authors on their dedicated research and your concentrated application to write two profoundly authentic volumes of the space programmes over a most critical early period of eight years.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 29 July 2008
Francis French and Colin Burgess' latest book travelled with me during a short trip to Gdansk/Poland last year, and it took me this week to read it from start to end. It was time very pleasantly spent - excellently written, and a smooth composition from the beginning to the end. If I hadn't come for some other things to see, I probably wouldn't have stopped reading before the last page would have been turned. That is quite an achievement for a non-fiction book.
Many of us had read the individual astronauts' autobiographies that are on the market. On those astronauts of course, little new could probably be said. However, French and Burgess unearth stories and backgrounds from those others that have not yet shared their life with the readers. In this context, I particularly enjoyed the extensive descriptions from Bill Anders, Rusty Schweickart, Donn Eisele that figure prominently in the book.
If I "missed something" after having read the first volume, it is the stories from NASA's competitor, the Soviet space programme. The first volume had covered the stories of Gagarin, Titov and Tereshkova. The 2nd volume only briefly mentions Komarov, and a longer paragraph on the joint flight of Soyuz 4 and 5. I feel a larger coverage of the parallel events in the Soviet Union would have been in
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2014
A very good read - I have read a lot on Apollo and the space programme - There was information and insights in it that I had not heard of before.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2015
I buy just about everything written about the American space programme of the 1960's and this is up there with the best. A very good read.