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Apollo 13 Hardcover – 31 Dec 1995
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About the Author
James Lovell is much in demand for his skill in turning film scripts into novels. He is based in the US.
Jeffrey Kluger is a senior writer at Time magazine. He is co-author of the best-selling Apollo 13, which served as the basis of the film. His other books include Moonhunters and Splendid Solution.
Top customer reviews
Much of the material had to be by necessity compacted or omitted from the screenplay and so it is an enormous pleasure to be able to read the full story "warts and all", including a NASA insider's take on the dreadful Apollo 1 fire and the final report into the events that led up to the failures of the Apollo 13 capsule. Mostly, however, the negatives are not dwelt upon, and it is the successful return of Astronauts Lovell, Swigert and Haise and how that was made possible that is rightly the main focus of this story.
Jim Lovell comes across as a truly level-headed guy and precisely the person you would want as your Commander in a spaceship that's gone wrong a quarter of a million miles from Earth. Some aspects of his life before and after the experiences of 13 - 17 April 1970 are also mentioned, as well as those of his worried Earthbound family at the time, but it is the story of mission itself and the terrific support of those ever-so-clever folk at NASA which grips and fascinates the reader for the bulk of this book.
There is a real sense of Jim Lovell's personal loss at missing his one chance at ever walking on the Moon after all his years of training, but the triumph of the story of their survival against incredible odds will probably outlast that of some of the later Moon missions in the public memory and, after the first lunar landing, in many ways this has become the other iconic story from all the Apollo missions.
A very impressive book indeed.
The book gives a lot of interesting background to Lovell's life and the early days of the Astronaut programme. The Apollo 1 Launchpad fire is covered in some detail as are a number of other fatal accidents. This isn't unnecessarily macabre, as understanding the human and technical failings is key to understanding the root cause of the Apollo 13 story and the subsequent NASA incidents.
There are a lot of 'characters' in the book as one would expect, however I didn't really feel we got to 'know' any of them at all, less perhaps the Lovell's. This is disappointing. I'd like to have learned more about Haise and Swiggert especially but apart from maybe one or two nuggets of info, very little of their character really comes through.
Overall, the story can get a bit dry in places and doesn't leave the reader feeling the same frenetic pace of activity that they will have enjoyed watching the film. Understandable, but for me, costs an otherwise detailed account a five star rating. Regardless, true fans of the film must read it and those who want an insight into how an organisation like NASA transforms itself 'in contact' in order to meet the aim is hugely interesting, although it is this latter point that I would have loved to read more of.
Great book, I left my original copy on a flight in China last month and so had to order another... even though I had finished it I know this is one I will come back to again!