Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space Paperback – 30 Oct 2013
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From the Back Cover
"Young was the best engineer and best test pilot of all the astronauts of the early space age. Without question, he was the most important astronaut of the space shuttle era. He was the best ever chief of the Astronaut Office in Houston. Nobody matched him."--Alan L. Bean"As the only astronaut to fly the Gemini, Apollo, "and" Space Shuttle ships, John's passion for safety was the signature emphasis (even obsession) of his career."--Glynn S. Lunney"Young has been at the center of human spaceflight since the mid-1960s, and his revealing autobiography speaks to internal issues, external possibilities, and the commitment of this individual to the movement of humanity beyond earth."--Roger D. Launius"A fascinating life."--"Space Review""An intensely enjoyable book."--"AmericaSpace.com""If you have been waiting for a book from the only moonwalker without one you will not be disappointed with "Forever Young." John W. Young, with James R. Hansen, has written the epic story if his life not only of adventure, but service to his country and inspiration for the future."--"Ad Astra""An incredible read, fast paced at times with great insight into Young's mind as he takes you with him as he soars into earth orbit and upon the vast ocean of space."--"Examiner.com"
About the Author
John W. Young, retired astronaut and former NASA executive, has received more than eighty major awards for his career in aerospace, including six honorary doctorates. James R. Hansen is professor of history and former director of the Honors College at Auburn University. He has been associated with the NASA History Program for the past thirty-one years and is the author of First Man and the coauthor of Truth, Lies, and O-Rings."
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To say I was exited upon hearing this book was soon to be published is something of an understatement. John W. Young's experience in manned space exploration is second to none, and it's all captured here in detail.
Is it a little heavy on the technical side of thing's...perhaps, but this was also the case with Mike Collin's `Carrying the fire' in this case mind I was expecting it as anyone who's ever heard of John Young's infamous `Youngrams' will know he is regarded as something of a stickler for details.
Does it contain mistakes...yes, but again anyone with enough knowledge on this subject should be able to spot them quite easily, and for me personally (even though their presence is indeed perplexing) they do not detract from the overall experience of the book.
What I like in reading such books (besides the historical reference) is to get a sense of the subject's personality and in this `Forever Young' does deliver. It is John Young's tenacity and determination that really shines through in the pages of this book.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, though the comparatively high level of technical detail means it's not as easily accessible as the likes of say Gene Cernan's `Last Man on the Moon' or Deke Slaytons `Deke' it still however manages to be an enjoyable and informative read and the epilogue is both inspiring and sobering in it's parting message.
I don't want to get into my thoughts specific to the Kindle version, though I was a little disappointed with the quality of the photographs.
The book itself is very good indeed for anyone who has an interest in the American space program, and lets face it, no one can boast more involvement at the `sharp end' than John W Young. However, I think it drifts a little once we get into the routine part of the Space Shuttle years. Yes I know that the space shuttle was never routine - so what I mean is after the testing of the vehicle up to the point where it was made operational.
The discussion of the Gemini and Apollo years though are over too quickly, though this is where my main personal interest lies, and could be down to my looking for more operational details rather than that covered in his lengthy managerial career.
There is - for me - too much discussion of specific technical issues that many of the shuttle missions had, though this comes across as a strong anti government message who we see gradually reducing NASA's funding which Young will tell you compromised safety, and definitely put paid to the dreams and plans of the early space pioneers. He asks repeatedly where would we be in space today if the impetus started by JFK had been continued.
The Challenger and Colombia accidents though are covered really well and from a perspective that differs from alternatives, while not really telling me anything I didn't already know. The facts are presented in such a way - from the point of view of a manager (JWY) who was not fully in the know, who could certainly have made a difference if he had had all of the facts. Sobering stuff...
Young gets into some of the technical side in some depth, but I was left wanting a little bit more of the `awe' that some of his contemporaries have shown in their respective books. I suppose I never should have expected this though, as the author confirms ones impression of the cool, laid-back individual he remains.
Don't expect too much detail on the personal side of his life, both major relationships are discussed in only several lines, though other astronauts have gone too deep here (and some have got it just about right), and too much of this is not what I expected to find anyway; sentiment would not reflect the character of the author.
This is really well written; the epilogue in particular is stirring, and does have parts where you cannot put it down even though you will probably know what happened next. There are several errors which is a little surprising, but do not let this put you off what is an excellent read.
Even if you are not a space aficionado, you cannot fail to be impressed by the modesty, tenacity and genuine desire to `get it right' which comes across very strongly throughout the book.
There's a bit more technical detail than in some of the other astronaut biographies I've read, but still a great read nevertheless. The co-author, James R Hansen, penned "First Man" so you know this is going to be good.
If you're into space then this is well worth investing in.
Like many other astronaut memoirs, the author recounts his early life (growing up, like many of the other astronauts, in hard times). He then goes on to describe his military service and very long career as an astronaut. Young's writing style is workmanlike but not inspired, and I could not help wondering what the end result would have been with prose like that of Michael Collins (author of the superlative Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys) used to describe what it was like to walk on the Moon. Overall, though, an essential purchase for space fans.
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