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Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space Paperback – 30 Oct 2013
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"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
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"See all Product description
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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.
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.
However, the latter half of the book becomes very technical and presents statistics with an assumption that the reader knows the meaning. No doubt many readers will be pilots or aerospace engineers, but equally many may simply be curious about the career of an astronaut.
An interesting contrast between the race to the moon and the shuttle with a look at Apollo 1, 13, Challenger and Columbia. The fat bureaucratic NASA putting cost before lives compared to the organisation that put men on the moon. You can share the author's frustration as proposal after proposal to make the shuttle safer is ignored.
Overall an enlightening insight to the world of test pilots and astronauts only spoiled in the second half of the book by endless statistics and pilot talk that leaves earth bound readers, well earth bound. I would like to soar with you John, but I don't know how.
This book is full of great insights and packed with detail that might be more than some would like, but it is all well worth it for the deep and personal read.
Thank you John Young for sharing your great life story and your heartfelt dreams too.
NASA really needs the next John Young and Neil Armstrong to come along.
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