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on 4 April 2017
Utterly absorbing book, very well written making it an interesting read
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on 20 July 2016
Very good read for anyone interested in the history of nasa and the very brave men who made it possible
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on 23 July 2017
The best book I've read concerning the Apollo era. Mike Collins writes about his experiences in an easy approachable manner. A must read for anyone wanting to learn what it was all about
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on 24 September 2017
Collins says he came top in the astronaut candidates' tests verbal skills section. I can well believe it. He writes excellently. There is exactly the right balance of technical information, reflection and day to day detail. It really gives you an idea of what it was like to be in the amazing, unprecedented situation he found himself in.
I had to put the book down at times just to revel in it and enjoy the moments.
One thing which does come out of it is: what do you do with your life after it has reached such a unique, unrepeatable peak? He touches on this too. It's not surprising that all 3 astronauts never flew again.
Another thing is: the enormous influence that the astronauts had on the conduct of the entire enterprise. I get the feeling, from reading about later programs eg the space shuttle, that later on 'managers' and administrators started to take over, which coincided (?) with the devaluation and essentially fizzling out of the manned space programs.
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on 3 March 2017
I first read this book over 40 years ago - I recently bought and re-read it again. It's still brilliant. One of the best.
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on 20 October 2017
Probably the best Apollo-era astronaut autobiography available. Most of Collins' contemporaries are able to provide an interesting insight into the technical aspects of getting to the moon, but Collins comes across as a far more well-rounded, contemplative and sanguine narrator - he is able to offer a human insight into the experience with far greater success (and with less resort to platitudes) than any of the others. A terrific read, and unlike many others, one that should engage and satisfy readers with only a passing interest in the space program as well as those with a passion for it.
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on 6 February 2012
I am fascinated by the whole Apollo program. It is hard to sometimes to break away from the test pilot, jet jock who becomes a space man. This book gives us Collins as a man. Yes the importance of all the hardware is still there but it does not get in the way of understanding the man. On one occasion he is asked to test a new arrest mechanism for jets. He fires up the jet - heads down the runway at the specified speed (test pilot attention to detail) and then heads off into the desert in a cloud of dust - the arrest wire did not engage! Why? He forgot to drop the hook! Classic. He is also very frank about the other astronauts in the programme - he even apologises when he has something negative to say. Collins a man grounded and comfortable in his own shoes. A great read.
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on 7 August 2014
I don't think I've ever had much interest in reading an autobiography before, but this book I really, really enjoyed. I found myself constantly telling my friends things I'd learnt from this book like "Did you know that astronauts get very dehydrated in space.. it's because.." or "did you know that when in space, they make their ship rotate very slowly so that neither side gets too hot in the sun?.. yep, just like a spit roast!". I think I will definitely read another astronaut autobiography, but I doubt anyone's will match this.

If you're interested in NASA's early days and space exploration in general, you should definitely read this book, because Collins makes it very clear how the space program worked, and how it was planned-out. He gives lots of technical detail on space flight in general: enough to keep a physicist happy (myself) but not too much to alienate a layman.

The book starts off describing his air force career, and how he tries very hard to become a test pilot. He then explains his career as a test pilot. He then explains his reactions to NASA announcing that they are hiring, and describes the application process (and his second). When he finally becomes an astronaut, he begins talking in more detail about technical and personal things. He talks mainly about the two flights which he flew: Gemini 10 (jam-packed with experiments, but mainly concluded that the Van Allen belt wasn't as radioactive as once thought) and Apollo 11 (the flight to land on the moon).

After coming away from this book, I feel like I understand and admire Collins. I was quite surprised by how little Collins talks of his wife and children, and how little he talks of politics (he says he was kind of oblivious to what was going on in the real world).. but it seems that at the time, he just very focussed on his work, and he says that when he was preparing for Apollo 11 he knew it would be his final flight whether they landed on the moon or not, simply because he'd burnt himself out and he felt like it was only downhill from here. Whilst Collins will come across as a bit sexist (the astronauts seem to like pin-up girls), he also comes across as a very reasonable person: he always tries to see a dispute from both sides, and there are very few things he complains about without saying that he realised why the person was acting like that (with the exception of medics). He says he hated being hounded by journalists and autograph-seekers, but confesses that american citizens pay his salary, so they have a right. I also really admire that after Apollo 11, the three astronauts refused to make a lot of money by selling-out, and switched to other career paths instead.

I like Collins' philosophy that the human is a machine, and if machines aren't regularly fired-up, used and maintained, they rust and people forget how to drive them properly. It makes me remember when I've been more active (mentally and physically) that I felt much more 'alive' than I do now. I realise I've been running at 5% capacity, when I could be running at 15%.
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on 13 March 2006
The last book I read about the Apollo astronauts was the rather awful Rocketman (about Pete Conrad, commander of Apollo 12)so it was with a certain trepidation that I began this 500 page book. The first great advantage is that this has been written by Michael Collins himself and not by a Hollywood scriptwriter. His style is very accessible and you get a real feel for the man as he comes across as being tremendously self effacing and modest. He talks about his feelings and pulls no punches when talking about his colleagues, though he doesn't gossip he's merely honest. A most refreshing read which is highly recommended.
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on 20 June 2001
I've read every available account of project Apollo and I think this is by far the best. Collins is a natural story teller and there's little eveidence of a co-author spoiling the text. Collins self-affacing humour and modesty make this a delight to read. Not only was he a Gemini and Apollo pilot, but he was instrumental in the designing of the pressure suit used for space and moon walks and he gives interesting accounts of this (including the discovery of his own claustraphobia-not a most desireable attribute for an astronaut!). My only disappointment was that Collins retired after being CMP on Apollo 11. He deserved a Lunar Landing and his account would have been electrifying.
I also unreservedly recommend this book-the hardback is especially nice!
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