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For Spacious Skies: The Uncommon Journey of a Mercury Astronaut Hardcover – 1 Jan 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
Carpenter, after all, had come in for a withering printed attack in 2001, when former NASA flight director Chris Kraft published his autobiography, "Flight." In the four decades that have passed since his space flight, Carpenter had endured many remarks about his piloting skills on his space flight with his characteristic good grace. With the publishing of Kraft's book, however, it was beginning to look like Kraft's views would become the accepted version of events for historians to use. A response was needed to give the other side of the story - and, thankfully, Scott Carpenter has written it. The resulting book is co-authored with Carpenter's daughter, Kris Stoever, who was six years old when her father became the second American to orbit the Earth. The book offers a level-headed, clear response to the accusations that Kraft and others made, offering unique insights into the flight of Aurora 7 from the man who was there.
This book is far more than a response to others. Carpenter and Stoever open by weaving a warm family history of growing up in Boulder, Colorado in the 1920s, using extracts from family letters to give unexpectedly vivid insights into an era that was already passing away with Carpenter's grandfather's generation. The book, however, is no cozy, romantic trip to a bygone idyll; the letters they wrote to each other portray a splintering, disintegrating marriage in which young Scott could not rely on either of his parents for his needs.Read more ›
My only disappointment is that, whereas most astronauts' careers followed pretty similar paths, Scott's did not; instead of heading for Outer Space after his first and only mission, he opted for Inner Space and the Navy's Man in the Sea Sealab Project. I know very little about this and would have been keen to learn much more; sadly, the book only accords a few pages to the undertaking.
Altogether, though, the book is a touching and scholarly appraisal of one of the lesser-known astronauts.
The first part of the book is a bit odd and would have preferred it actually not being there. It gives loads of Scott's early life.. in way too much detail. If you read the book you will see what I mean. Even so- a good book and definitely worth reading.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
Carpenter's book is footnoted throughout, and the authors have made many references to other credible manuscripts to support their recollections of the time. Personal recollections from Gene Kranz are referenced at least once, and both John Glenn and Wally Schirra proofread the manuscript prior to publication.
Scott Carpenter's life has been overall, a great experience tinged with personal losses. His parents lived apart, his mother suffered from t.b., his father's approval always needed to be earned. Marriage's have brought the promise of secure relationships, but have not lasted over time. One senses the deepest loss in his relationship with Rene, who documented much of his personal history and the contemporary truths of the Mercury years. The overall sense is that two sharply intellectual adults somehow outgrew each other, when they still complimented the other so well. Rene's journals, it is revealed, provided Tom Wolfe with a great deal of his impressions for "The Right Stuff", some of which was re-written as "the wrong stuff" according to Carpenter and Stoever.
Of course, the real meat of the book is Scott's recollection of the mission of "Aurora 7", and the keen disappointment in having to displace Deke Slayton in what should have been his moment of glory. How does one enjoy his own great moment in the gloomy pallor of a friend's defeat? Nobody liked what happened to Deke, nobody, including Scott and back up pilot Schirra, liked the reassignments. Management was blindsided by John Glenn's super-celebrity power, fresh and wieldy. Scott Carpenter was thrust into a crammed flight plan, a management team which was waiting to pounce upon any perceived "screw ups", and a spacecraft with serious mechanical flaws, which began to appear at launch. Did Scott Carpenter "malfunction", as Chris Kraft contends in an entire chapter of his own book? Scott readily admits trying to squeeze every science minute he could from the flight, and making that his priority. Voice recordings and bio-med data show that the pilot was aware of the situation he was in during re-entry. The fact that he brought his spacecraft back intact is cited as evidence of a pilot in control. Kraft gets his well-earned respect too, but the feisty nature of the flight controller is referred to again and again. And while Carpenter did not fly again, the choice appears to have been his own, and not one imposed upon him. Readers will have to divine that truth for themselves. Overall the authors have attempted to remain measured, objective, and fair in dealing with Carpenter's contemporaries.
"For Spacious Skies" is imperative reading for space historians. It is candid, tells much about the elite group of men and women who found themselves cultivated by the Kennedy White House, and thrust into the glory years of space flight. The extra effort in backing up statements with other records and recollections sets this book apart from similar astronaut biographies.
I really got emotional charged in the first parts of the book seeing Scott (nicknamed Buddy) neglected by his low life father. I wanted to reach through the book and punch Dr. Carpenter in the face and say wake up and love your son and sick wife Toye. They love and need you. Luckily Buddy had a loving mother who was his hero and loving grandparents. Buddy's father was a bum who for years was late or missed writing Scott and his sick ailing mother. Many times he sent them no money. Poor Buddy desperately wanted love and approval with the important things in his life from his father. His father leaves his 2 year old son and very sick wife Tory in Colorado with his parents so he can go off and try to make money and have a career in NYC after getting his PHD in perfume/smell science. The one that stunk was Scott's low life father. He divorces TB sickened Toye and runs off with another woman. Shortly before Scott's spaceflight he makes peace with his son.
Scott goes to college and then gets in the Navy as a fight cadet and eventually becomes a pilot and officer. Scott deliberately chose to fly larger multi engine planes rather than fighters so he could be home with his wife Rene and children more. He becomes very good in navigation because of his flying. He does well and gets transferred to PAX the Navy's test flight facility and becomes a test pilot.
He flies many high speed jets and is selected to NASA as one of the original Mercury 7. Commander Scott only gets one flight on Aurora 7 and has problems in flight and lands 250 miles down range. I'm glad I got to learn from Scott what went wrong in the flight. Chris Kraft the Flight director had issues with Scott and thought much of the problems with Scott's flight was Scott's fault. Ill read Chris Kraft's book Flight to get the other side of the story. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Aurora 7 flight was a success and much space science was learned.
I really wanted more information on the Sea Labs saturation deep sea diving Scott participated in. I'll try to buy another book for more information.
Scott marries his sweetheart Rene and she is a great wife and supports his flying and tuff Navy life and helps raise a fine family. Later Scott marries a few other times and has more children but not much is mentioned of the other wives and children.
His daughter Kris wrote a good book but there is some unnecessary profanity to make it more macho. The book was good enough to not need it. Scott Carpenter a true hero that accomplished so much in the navy, space and deep sea exploration. He accomplished so much in life even though he had a broken family with no father around. Enjoyed the book and recommend it.
As a then young American I can remember that none of us cared much about the reasons for the 200 plus mile overshoot of his intended landing point and were thrilled by his flight and what we perceived as his successful mission. The overshoot was a consequence of physics, timing, orbital mechanics and an overloaded mission plan. Let Mr. Kraft worry about the small details.
The book seems to be a family history written by Carpenter's daughter, Kris Stoever. Thus, the reader must adjust to reading about Carpenter in the third person. Carpenter does take over in the chapters about his flight, writing in the first person. Adding to the difficulty reading the book, the writers assume that the reader can keep track of the year different events happened. However, the story is not chronilogical, so one must guess at the year when signifigant events (child birth, transfer to a new Navy base) occur. Too bad this book did not do a better job of completing the timeline for the reader. Particularly surprising his how Carpenter's last three marriages are summarized in a 6-line paragraph on the second to last page.
I recommend reading this book if you want to hear Carpenter's view of his flight. But be prepared to for a bumpy ride, as the book is not pulled together into the consistent story one would expect.