First the negative points. This books isn't for the seriously technically-minded (although you do pick up a lot of technical info along the way). And a lot of it - the portraits of the astronaut's lives, the in-house NASA politics and so on - will already be familiar if you've read/seen The Right Stuff or Apollo 13. 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.
The best book about the Apollo missions, even in this basic paperback edition. Chaikin's maitre-d'oeuvre doesn't dwell on the political background nor does it get carried away with astronauts' previous careers. Rather, it gives a detailed account of what happened with each of the manned missions - from launch preparations to splashdown. Giving about fifty pages over to each mission, the author clearly carried out extensive research. The appendices testify to this with a long list of interviewees and forty pages of additional notes which futher explain points made throughout the book. 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.
I really enjoyed this book. It was thorough, and well written. It was also very varied and kept my attention from start to finish. The book starts with chapters dealing with the run up to the first "moonshot" -- Apollo 8. It then covers that mission and each of the subsequent missions that landed on the moon from Apollo 11 to 17 in detail, but without being repetitious. I would have liked to know a bit more about Apollos 9 and 10 which were hardly covered. The author is also (as you would expect) a great fan of space and this means that the (limited) disucssions of the value of the missions do not have the air of balance. But then I didn't buy the book for that, I just wanted to know what happened. And on that front the book delivered all that I could have asked from it.
A man on the moon is basically the astronauts' story and captures in detail their part in the race to the moon. The book also explains in simple terms many of the procedures involved in getting to the moon. It should be read in conjunction with 'Apollo - The Race the the Moon,' and is the perfect counter-argument to all those saddo conspiracy theorists who say that man never got there. Believe me, if Armstrong, Aldrin et al had not landed, the Soviets would have shouted long and loud about it! If the book has a fault, it possibly gets a little too involved in geology towards the end, but even then, the subject is explained simply and clearly enough to retain reader interest. After reading A Man on the Moon, you will feel as if you know the astronauts personally. Chaikin also inserts many little-known anecdotes from the Apollo project. He realises that it is impossible to tell the whole story of Apollo in one managable text, so concentrates on the astronaut theme. If the book whets your appetite for Apollo stories, try the source texts section for more ideas.
I completely agree with the broad sentiment reflected in the other reviews submitted for this outstanding book. Andrew Chaikin has done a mighty job telling the story of Apollo in an informative, insightful and highly readable fashion. If you know nothing at all about the moon landings then I suggest there is no better place to start than here. Similarly, if you know a little already and want a compact volume that eloquently tells the whole story, then buy this book. That said, I would have liked to have seen a little more of the story devoted to Apollo 7. After all, it must have taken a considerable amount of both courage and confidence for 'jolly Wally' and his crew to climb aboard and blast off. This minor criticism aside, I highly recommend this work.
An amazing read. At times as exciting as the best thrillers, at others as engaging as a travel biography. This book tells the story of the Apollo moon missions of the late 60s/early 70s. It doesn't concentrate on the technology (though there's still plenty of that) but on the people. This makes it a most engrossing and _human_ read. I couldn't recommend a book more highly than this one.
A wonderful account of the Apollo program. Chaikin's book is so engrossing both because he successfully reduces the technical aspects of the program into legible English, and because he makes each mission so alive and so different. Of the many books I have read on NASA's space program, this, along with Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff", are the most successful at engaging the reader and drawing you into the unfolding story. That Chaiken manages to achieve that for each of the Apollo missions in turn is no mean feat. This is a great book about one of mankind's great achievements.
Chaikin describes beautifully both the technical details and the personalities which made the Apollo program the success that it was. He has an unbiased approach and makes each mission a fascinating read - not just the ones that landed on the moon. If you're interested in space, the moon, engineering or just people, BUY THIS BOOK!