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A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts Paperback – 5 Jan 1995
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The race to the moon was won spectacularly by Apollo 11 on 20 July 1969. When astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took their 'giant step' across a ghostly lunar landscape, they were watched by some 600 million people on Earth 250,000 miles away. "A Man on the Moon" is the definitive account of the heroic Apollo programme: from the tragedy of the fire in Apollo 1 during a simulated launch, through the euphoria of the first moonwalk, to the discoveries made by the first scientist in space aboard Apollo 17. Drawing on hundreds of hours of in-depth interviews with the astronauts and team, this is the story of the twentieth century's greatest human achievement, minute-by-minute, in the words of those who were there.
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Where the book triumphs, magnificently, is in giving a sense of what it was actually like to be on the moon. You come away feeling as if you'd been there with the astronauts. The author's key technique is to tell you what they were thinking, and how they felt, as they were exploring the surface. This lets you imagine how you'd have felt in the same place.
The book did, however, remind me of one reason why the later Apollo missions failed to hold the public's interest (or mine, at least) - the relentless focus on geology. Unfortunately the book's fidelity to its subject means that its later chapters are affected in much the same way. After the 50th (or was it 100th?) description of a rock being picked up, I was thinking "wasn't there *anything* else they could have done up there?", and never wanting to hear the word "basalt" again.
Nevertheless, this is an excellent book, and well worth reading, whether you're a "rookie" or veteran of space exploration literature.
Detailed to the point of acting as a reference book, this work is very useful to have nearby when reading any of the astronauts' biographies. It is always interesting to cross-check a story with this unemotive account. Don't expect to find much information about the 'other' Apollo activities, though (the tests between Apollos 1 and 7, the ASTP and Skylab). Chaikin concentrates firmly on Apollo 1, then 7 to 17.
There are forty-five or so small but well-chosen and well captioned black and white photographs in the middle pages of the paperback edition.
The way that Andrew Chaikin faces the huge amount of information and facts related with Apollo (and Mercury and Gemini too) program it's simply brilliant. He brings emotion and suspense without leaving out the veracity and high level of detail of the events that succeeded 40 and 50 years ago.
It's easy to read, despite the 650 pages (and my quite-bad english as you can read), and it contains some pictures related on the central part which are quite useful and interesting complements.
I recommended strongly this book for all those are looking for high-detailed facts and histories in the history of first US Astronautical times and the race for the Moon programs, also for the people who wants a good real-facts history based tale.
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