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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating - a real page turner
If anyone wants to re-awaken their interest in the Apollo moon landings then this book is a must read. I found it easy to follow, written with emotion and a dash of humour. It's full of stories from the astronauts who the author meets on his travels across the US. Nothing really new is revealed, but it gives an insight about what the Apollo programme was all about...
Published on 12 Feb 2006 by J. GLEW

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much subjective speculation and not enough about the astronauts!
This book tells more about Andrew Smith's quest to meet the nine men remaining from the twelve who walked on the Moon than it does about the men themselves. It is fascinating, much of the time. It's frustrating, too, when Smith waxes lyrical about his own memories, clearly forgetting that it's not his memories we want to hear about.

When he gets down to...
Published on 1 July 2008 by Archy


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating - a real page turner, 12 Feb 2006
By 
J. GLEW "jane glew" (uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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If anyone wants to re-awaken their interest in the Apollo moon landings then this book is a must read. I found it easy to follow, written with emotion and a dash of humour. It's full of stories from the astronauts who the author meets on his travels across the US. Nothing really new is revealed, but it gives an insight about what the Apollo programme was all about and how it changed the lives of the men who took part. The only thing missing I felt was some photographs perhaps of the astronauts then and now, or even of the moon landings themselves just to remind us of the pure magic of it all.
The most intriguing aspect of the book is the mystery surrounding the "first man on the moon", Neil Armstrong. I feel I can understand a little better about why he remains so distant. When my sons asked me what it was like to watch it all live on TV back then, I feel as daunted by that question as the astronauts must feel themselves when asked what it was like to "stand on the moon". Something not easy to put into words because it's a moment in time that passes so quickly and difficult to take in. This, I feel, is what most of the "moonwalkers" find the hardest question to answer. Moondust raises those un-answerable questions.
A fantastic read, Mr Taylor - A fascinating, intriguing book that really makes you think!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Astronaut-centric approach, 18 April 2006
By 
K. Tune "mustard57" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - having read Andrew Chaikin's 'A Man on the Moon' a few months earlier.

Smith's book gives a real sense of the people involved, and the way in which he weaves stories of the various missions contributes to a holistic view of the whole program.

I'm not sure how much I would have enjoyed this without Chaikin's book, as that supplied the factual underpinning that allowed me to enjoy a more free form approach.

Anyway no point theorizing - this book gives a good alternative perspective and contains lots of information that you might not find elsewhere ( e.g. Aldrin refusing to photo Armstrong on the moon ! ). His sense of wonder at the entire project is infectious, and his diagnosis of type A maledom a lesson some of us might do well to take to heart.

This book never flags, and is never dull.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and moving, 21 Feb 2006
By 
Captain Pike (Sussex) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
I have a friend who knows everything there is to know about the Apollo programme and I asked him if he'd read the book. Naturally he had, but he didn't like it. In his view there were far too many observations and recollections by the author and not enough hard facts.
I have to disagree. 'Moondust' is an unashamedly subjective evocation of the Space Age that is both extremely interesting and often very poignant. Whether you remember the Apollo missions or not, it is facinating to read about an era that felt as if it was the dawn of a new 'Space Age' (indeed, many people quiet reasonably assumed that if we could land a man on the moon in 1969, we'd have bases there by 2001).
In 'Moondust' author Andrew Smith has interviewed many of the surviving astronauts who went to the moon and instead of asking the obvious question - 'What was it like to be on the moon?' - he is more interested in how they coped with returning to their lives on earth, knowing that the highpoint of their lives was probably behing them.
That said, 'Moondust' has many fascinating facts about the Apollo missions, ranging from some humorous accounts of the difficulties in going to the loo in zero gravity to a description of how pilots often had to assume manual control to stop their craft from crashing into the lunar surface. But for me, the most memorable thing I learned was that NASA only paid the astronauts a few dollars a day while they were in space and actually deducted bed and board from their pay cheque!
When I discovered that this book was included in Richard and Judy's Book Club it seemed an odd choice, but now I've read it I can understand why. This is a fascinating, very readable book that most people should, I think, be able to enjoy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars REACH FOR THE MOON, 7 Mar 2006
In the years separating man from his last visit to the Moon , countless words have been written about what went on to get us there, what happened when we got there and when we're going back.
This book attempts to place in context all the trips and their relevance to us today in the 21st century. The author explores on a very human level what it meant for both the astronauts and those they left behind - family, friends and even us.
For whether we lived through the Appollo missions or like me were infants at the time - the impact the Moon landings had on all of us was and still is immense.
We may not have colonised space but our imaginations were allowed to grow and give free reign to dreams both technical and spiritual.
Without the Apollo flights there would be no Bill Gates, no Steve Jobs. Some would say great, but the world would be a far duller place. You probably wouldnt be reading this without the Moon Landings.
The author has written a potted social history of Apollo and hits the right note of being both fascinated and disenchanted by modern econimcs and its impingment on future Space Flight.
He touches on Politics, tourism and music but at the heart of the book lie the astonauts and there fascinating lives before and after the moon Landings. Some have disappeared from the public consciousness to pursue idealstic and cultural ideals others have embraced the stars and banners whirlwind touring of professional Moon Men - but all have intersting tales to tell.
Read the book - it may slow in parts but give it a go- stylistically it reads like a travelogue but it has great insight into Appollo - the human condition and the world we live in now.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book, 3 Nov 2005
By 
Mr. K. Papas "kleopapas" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Andrew Smith felt compelled to write this book after realising that of the 12 men that walked on the moon, only 9 are still alive today. This is a book about personalities and characters as he seeks to understand what, if any, common denominators run through these 9 men. The results are surprising; certainly they all excelled in their field but they all turn out to be rather unique. Some of the astronauts are diffident, humble, approachable and happy to share their experiences whereas others come across as withdrawn and rather difficult to understand. Andrew Smith has made a fine job of getting these men to talk to us before they're all gone. This book will not provide readers with technical info or too much detail regarding the Apollo missions that made it to the moon's surface. However it does offer a unique insight into how the moon changed each of these men. A great book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why did we go to the moon?, 13 April 2006
By 
Linda Rogers (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Having a long-standing interest in this subject provided me with an ideal excuse to read this book. I did not know what to expect, but I was intrigued with the prospect of playing 'catch-up' with the moon-walkers - what happended to them after they returned to Earth? This book is a great starting point for those new to the Apollo missions, and those, like myself, who look for more insights into the experiences of the astronauts. The author deftly ponders the advantages of going to the moon - was it to advance the age-old wish for exploration? Was it to advance our earth-bound technology? Andrew Smith offers the answer that I like best - perhaps we needed to go so far to see exactly how fragile this planet of ours really is.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A througherly enjoyable thought provoking book., 14 April 2006
By 
Zeneca (England, UK) - See all my reviews
A througherly enjoyable thought provoking book. I'm much enjoying it & not really wanting it to end, thankfully I've got a quarter of it still to go. The book traces the authors mental & physical journey in tracking down the twelve lucky ones who got to walk on the moon. He gets to meet quite a few associated others on the way and with them all he ponders some pretty fundamental personal philosphical questions of the kind that we all consider from time to time - all this is done in the context of those trips to the moon, the spirit of the Sixties, and looking back on it all from today. If like me you think that going to the moon was the most 21st Century thing to happen in the 20th Century - beating the Internet into second place by the way - and you like a bit of pondering on it all then this is most definitely the next book for you to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book by an ordinary guy meeting ordinary guys...who did extraordinary things, 14 Oct 2008
By 
andy204 (Munich, Germany) - See all my reviews
I was a real spaceflight geek when I was a kid - I think I still am, deep down. But I'd had my fill of cutaway-diagrammed, statistic-filled glossy coffee-table books about the Apollo Missions and, at the age of 30, wanted to read something a bit more human.

Some of the reviewers here have criticised the book because it's more about Andrew Smith's journey than it is about the astronauts themselves. But that's the point. He starts out being this schoolkid, wowed by the Apollo landings on TV, and as an adult decides to track the pilots down before they're lost forever. It's about his personal mission as much as theirs. And if their missions changed their lives, their lives certainly changed Smith's mission. The long, friendly chat with Alan Bean, still cheery and talented at the age of over 70, is pivotal to this. For these people are more than just astronauts: They're flesh and blood people with families, just like the rest of us. Smith is one of the few spaceflight authors who deals with this aspect of things head-on.

This book was fascinating, sometimes hilarious, often profoundly moving. Very few books tell the story of Apollo from this perspective, because they're books for the brain. This is a book for the heart, and needs to be read as such.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much subjective speculation and not enough about the astronauts!, 1 July 2008
By 
Archy (ALTRINCHAM, Cheshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This book tells more about Andrew Smith's quest to meet the nine men remaining from the twelve who walked on the Moon than it does about the men themselves. It is fascinating, much of the time. It's frustrating, too, when Smith waxes lyrical about his own memories, clearly forgetting that it's not his memories we want to hear about.

When he gets down to business and talks to Ed Mitchell, who has subsequently set up an organisation to unify science and religion, or `Buzz' Aldrin, who hit the depths of despair after his return, and found his way out of the mire again, or even why he's trying to get Neil Armstrong to describe his feelings at being the first man on the Moon, the book's compelling.

It's also the story of Apollo, and the ex-Nazi, Wernher von Braun, who was instrumental in its success. Smith details the many contradictions and conundrums of Apollo, setting it against the background of the 1960s counterculture - the 60s ended, he says, in December 1972, when the last man left the Moon.

It's a book filled with memorable encounters and observations, but at the end just two stuck in my mind. The first was from Bill Anders, who was aboard Apollo 8, and so never set foot on the Moon at all. Anders points out that the whole point, the only point, of putting a man on the Moon, was to beat the Russians, "to demonstrate American technological pre-eminence." NASA, however, was a civilian organisation, so "they started pushing exploration as the motive - and soon... began believing their own PR. When Neil Armstrong and `Buzz' Aldrin planted the American flag on the Moon, the programme was over and NASA didn't realise it."

The other, more chilling comment, came from John Young, who was on Apollo 16, and who comes over as a curious, eccentric, genius. "The chance of a civilisation-ending event occurring in the next hundred years is 1 in 455. Very high risk," he warns. "You're ten times more likely to get killed in a civilisation-ending event than you are of getting killed on a commercial airline flight." Console yourself with that next time you take off for sunnier climes!

Overall, a patchy book, often fascinating, but equally often frustrating, and certainly not the final word on these astronauts.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting addition, 8 Mar 2006
Although not an expert, I've always had an interest in space missions, particularly the Apollo programme. I had a similar thought to the author's, 'how much longer will there still be people walking on the earth that have walked on the moon?'.
This is an interesting book in that it does reveal something of what has happened to the astronauts since the flights and what they are like now. It also reveals a lot about the whole media circus that surrounds them and how some court it and some avoid it.
For me the lack of photos was a real let down, and the author loses his direction at times and wanders into far too much self reflection and repetition at times.
Overall it adds another dimension to the recording of the Apollo mission but don't expect any remarkable revelations.
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Moondust by Andrew Smith
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