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Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond (Thorndike Paperback Bestsellers) Paperback – 1 May 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 415 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Publishing Corporation,U.S.; Reissue edition (May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425179877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425179871
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.4 x 22.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

In 1957, the Russians launched Sputnik and the ensuing space race. Three years later, Gene Kranz left his aircraft testing job to join NASA and champion the American cause. What he found was an embryonic department run by whizz kids (such as himself), sharp engineers and technicians who had to create the Mercury mission rules and procedures from the ground up. As he says, "Since there were no books written on the actual methodology of space flight, we had to write them as we went along".

Kranz was part of the mission control team that, in January 1961, launched a chimpanzee into space and successfully retrieved him and made Alan Shepard the first American in space in May 1961. Just two months later they launched Gus Grissom for a space orbit, John Glenn orbited Earth three times in February 1962, and in May 1963 Gordon Cooper completed the final Project Mercury launch with 22 Earth orbits. And through them all, and the many Apollo missions that followed, Gene Kranz was one of the integral inside men--one of those who bore the responsibility for the Apollo 1 tragedy and the leader of the "tiger team" that saved the Apollo 13 astronauts.

Moviegoers know Gene Kranz through Ed Harris's Oscar-nominated portrayal of him in Apollo 13, but Kranz provides a more detailed insider's perspective in his book Failure Is Not an Option. You see NASA through his eyes, from its primitive days when he first joined up, through the 1993 shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, his last mission control project. His memoir, however, is not high literature. Kranz has many accomplishments and honours to his credit, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but this is his first book, and he's not a polished author. There are, perhaps, more behind-the-scenes details and more paragraphs devoted to what Cape Canaveral looked like than the general public demands. If, however, you have a long-standing fascination with aeronautics, if you watched Apollo 13 and wanted more, Failure Is Not an Option will fit the bill. --Stephanie Gold --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A rich, behind-the-scenes account of the experts who held the lives of America's first space explorers in their hands." -- Mark Carreau, "Houston Chronicle" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is a joy for anyone remotely interested in the US space program. Kranz, a key member of mission control throughout the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs talks frankly about the people and technology directly involved in man's journey to the moon. Never getting loaded with technical jargon, Kranz has blended his personality into this hi-tech story to create an accessible and heart-warming read. His account of the fire of Apollo 1 is searingly painful for it's simplicity, the excitement of being Flight Director for the Apollo 11 moon landing like a beautiful scent wafting up from the pages of this book.
How wonderful also for him to acknowledge the invaluable role played by his wife, when so many other marriages in this stressful time were failing.
I agree wholeheartedly with the reviews on the back of this book - it is a very welcome addition the lore of manned spaceflight. A must for all those interested in this topic.
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Format: Paperback
I have read a lot of books about Apollo but this is the one i keep turning back to. Gene Krantz is simply a fascinating figure and his job in Mission Control the most exiting there was - Period.... Krantz writes with the passion that is burning within every good engineer and he writes in an easily readable style, yes there are a lot of tecnical "mumbo jumbo" in the book but the story is easily understood nevertheless. If you only want to read one book about Apollo it should probably be "Apollo, the Race to the moon" by Murray/Cox but when you've read that one and gotten hooked, this one would be am obvious number two.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gene Kranz was one of the original band of NASA flight directors, some readers may remember he was played by a white waistcoat-wearing Ed Harris in the film about Apollo 13. This book is for those of us that are slightly geeky with regards to the Space Race in as far as this is a technical and detailed account of what took place in the Mission Control Room while the mission was in progress. It is not a riveting read by any stretch of the imagination but it does offer the interested reader another take Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Gene Kranz is unashamedly patriotic and God-fearing with a slight propensity to describe almost all of his colleagues as all American heroes. Nevertheless, afficionados of this era of space exploration will find a lot in this book.
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Format: Paperback
Ive read a few books on Americas space program and ive also read a bit on Russias space program. Some have been exellent and some have been bad written rubbish thats been told the same way over and over again with the same pictures and quotes. That is until I read Failure Is Not An Option!!
This to me is the gratest book EVER written on Americas journey to the moon.
Kranz starts off with the Mercury program in deatil then onto Gemini and finally to the greatest accomplishment of all time, stepping foot on the surface of the moon. It takes you through the high's and the low's of the program and takes each mission and explians it in great detail.
Gene introduces the astronauts as they really were,not how others or the press percieved them to be. Its truly remarkable to me how he can remember in such great detail each event in turn that happend with, say the armstrong gemini flight that nearly ended in disaster or the near fateful Apollo 13 mission.
Overall this is a must for fans of the space program or even if youve just seen Apollo 13 and want to know more. Reviewers who say its technical at times, are correct but Kranz does explain what abbreviations mean as you go through each chapter.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Eugene Kranz is an unsung hero. Maybe most people are familiar with Ed Harris's portrayal of him in Apollo 13 but the man was around from the beginning of the space programme. We've already forgetten, all too easily, what an astonishing achievement NASA completed with the space programme in terms of technology. We forget also that the staff there literally invented the rules as they went along. But apart from all the engineering and science, there is the incredible way that they stood up to the pressure not just on the Apollo 13 mission but in other situations. In the thick of it all is Eugene Kranz. These days people in the UK are stupid enough to vote Queenie and Robbie Williams as the most important Britains ever. As an antidote read this and focus on someone who deserves our admiration.
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Format: Paperback
The fact that Apollo 13 did not appear in the book until page 306 of 380 pages put a great deal of NASA and their missions in perspective for me.

Apollo 13 is well known by those who remember, and a generation that learned about it through the movie, and great books like, Tom Lovell's, "Lost Moon",. I hope as many people know about the tragedy of Apollo 1, and The Challenger is still rather fresh in the public's mind.

Apollo 13 was an incredible accomplishment by all involved, and the 3 men who persevered to make it back are nothing short of remarkable. Those on the ground took everything so personally, but the crew actually had to live through it. However, the book puts this mission into perspective by taking the reader through the Mercury and Gemini programs as well.

Alan Shepard was the first to climb on a rocket that had a bad habit of exploding. I don't know what the "Right Stuff" actually is, but he had to made from it. And the Mercury Astronauts that followed all had experiences that were way up on the terror scale for non-astronauts/test pilots. That is one of the most eye opening parts of this book, every mission was so new, that the majority had problems that were potentially fatal.

You will read about the first moon landing, I never knew what happened on that one. Manned mission hit by lightening, a mission coming back with engines still on because who knew if the heat shield was still there. Every mission is just incredible from the complexity, and despite this, the rate of success.

I especially admired the manner that Mr. Kranz discussed the blown hatch on Gus Grissom's flight. The movie did a grave injustice to a man who subsequently died doing his job.
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