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We Seven: By the Astronauts Themselves Paperback – 12 Jan 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (12 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439181039
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439181034
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 158,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Cut of the same stone as Columbus, Magellan, Daniel Boone, Orville and Wilbur Wright...the seven astronauts of Project Mercury were winnowed out by the most searching tests man could devise and machine could execute." " -- Time"

About the Author

As part of the Mercury Seven, John H. Glenn became one of America's first astronauts.


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I read this book sometime in 1969 and was thrilled. This first hand account by the Mercury astronauts was a "must". Since then I have read much, much more and it is now apparent that the astronauts obviously do not give the full story, neither of themselves or of all aspects of the program. But this is neither here nor there. It is still a first hand account written even before the Mercury program was completed. With some background on the space program you can see through some of the "omissions" and still get thrilled. Occasionally, the account is, especially 50-60 years on, a bit long haired but it is still good read. One good thing is that the "personal biographies" by the astronauts are shoter and more to the point than in many later astronauts's books. One can forgive Carpenter for not really giving an adequate account of his flight. Whether he perfomed unsatisfactorily his was still a pioneering achievement. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the manned space program. You may wish to "fast read" some pages but it is and will remain a key documentary about how it was like to be one of the first group of astronauts. Supplement this with Walter Cunninghams "All American Boyes" and also Mike Collins' "Carrying the Fire" and you have a good triplet on which to get an inside view of astronauts. And oh, I forgot the book by shuttle astronaut Mike Mullane: "Riding Rockets". So read these four and supplement with the "ground view" as given by Eugene Kranz "Failure is not an option" and Chris Kraft's "My life in mission controi" and you are well informed and entertained.
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Format: Paperback
This collection of short essays written ostensibly by the 'Original Seven' NASA astronauts originated in articles in LIFE magazine published at the time of their pioneering Mercury flights. As you'd expect this early in the space race, this book from 1962 is relentlessly upbeat and contains some rather corny and sanitised insights into the domestic and personal virtues of our seven heroes, but it also contains surprisingly large amounts of fascinating and well-explained technical detail about the Mercury spacecraft themselves and the human experience of flying them into space, from Al Shepard and Gus Grissom aboard Redstone rockets through John Glenn and Scott Carpenter aboard their Atlas boosters. In fact, they provide much more thorough and comprehending real-time accounts of their training and flights in these sub-orbital and orbital missions than many later books written with the luxury of hindsight and cynicism, from Tom Wolfe's 'The Right Stuff' onwards. The LIFE journalists really seemed to have done their homework, even if they polished up the god-fearing, family-man images of the astronauts themselves a little too brightly. The sections on the Original Seven's early careers and flight experiences seem to have been a major source for material since recycled endlessly, and not always accurately, in later books, but many of the original stories and observations here were new to me. There's an authenticity and simplicity about these accounts that's quite refreshing, although you have to read between the lines (or read the later books)to guess at the tensions between the seven astronauts and their relationships to the flight controllers and NASA management. Read Christopher Kraft's book for the flight controller's perspective. Curiously, the back cover photo is of a later Gemini mission, not a Mercury flight.
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Okay, so before reading this book you have to understand the astronauts themselves got the final say in what was written here. So they are only going to be presented in a positive light, and you won't find any controversy. Having said that, what you will find is a number of great little anecdotes and details that I have not seen in any of the other books on the subject. It covers right through from the selection process to choose the astronauts to the Mercury missions themselves. And with input from all of the seven, I feel it gives the best overview if you are first starting to learn about the subject.
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This is an excellent book written by the Mercury Seven astronauts themselves during the 1960s, i.e. during the very early stages of the US manned spaceflight programme. It was published in 1962, just after the fourth manned spaceflight by the US (there were six in total in Project Mercury, so this book was from mid-way through that first Project). It gives fascinating detail and first-hand accounts of what it was like during those early years. I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in manned spaceflight.
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Should be read with 'Astronauts Wives' to see both halves of how they lived. Top gun lifestyle but act a big price.
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