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on 5 June 2006
There's much that other reviewers have already said concerning accuracy and consistency, and of course the style of writing interlacing Pete's round the world record attempt in a Lear Jet with episodes from his past. I have to say I agree, the style doesn't really work for me (that doesn't mean to say that you might not like it), and the detail particularly when depicting Pete's space flights (the thing he was *most* famous for) was weak.

That having been said, the innate likability of the man shines through the text. He was clearly not overly impressed with himself and understood his limitations and his humanity. Most of all his self-deprecating humour caught my imagination - a case in point is the plate showing a photo of his self-portrait in the sand. I wasn't previously aware of his personal struggle with dyslexia, which makes his acheivements in the cockpit all the greater and his appointment as an astronaut amazing. I had heard the story of the Mercury selection and Pete's description of the blank rorshach card from another Astronauts biography, however, it was listed as 'rumour'. I wonder if it is fact or posthumous hearsay.

Pete's life was hard, but only in comparison to his origins, many people start in abject poverty and have to struggle, although I do appreciate that his family's fall from wealth galvanised the man into refusing to quit at anything (Mercury selection and the dreaded electronic probe notwithstanding - hey even Braveheart would have said "to hell with this!"). I felt that some parts of the book were necessarily understated, particularly in dealing with the death of his son - it was an almost Forrest Gump moment, "That's all I have to say about that".

The relationship between Pete, Dicky-Dicky and Beano (the crew of Apollo 12) was for me one of the most interesting parts of the book, as is the way that the first, second and third intake of astronauts all seemed to know each other - notably Wally Schirra and Jim Lovell. Yes there is humour and the tendency to play around, but how much more can be acheived by a crew of really good friends? The skylab section was reasonable, but space geek that I am, I'd have liked to see more detail on the effects of long duration space flight - especially from one who was written off as "unsuitable for long-duration space flight" by the flight surgeons undertaking the Mercury Selection process.

Buzz Aldrin's foreward is worth a mention, as he appears to be someone who genuinely liked and respected Pete, and on my next visit to the States I'll certainly watch for the coloured lights in Pete's tree.

On the whole, I am not sorry I bought this book. While it is shaky in literary terms and not entirely accurate I enjoyed the anecdotes from Pete's life, especially the last meal and the autograph for the little girl signed "Your Pal, the Rocketman". The episode just seemed for me to epitomise Pete, the pilot, the astronaut, the joker and all round good guy.
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on 26 February 2006
Ignore the hard-nut, moody cover shot - Pete Conrad was the joker in the pack of the Gemini and Apollo astronauts. He probably burst out laughing after the camera clicked. This biography confirms that role as a man who was self-effacing but ambitious, laugh-a-minute but hugely talented.

The book adopts an unusual format by alternating chapters telling his life story and space missions with chapters describing a record-breaking round the world jet flight he was involved in much later in his life. This doesn't work particularly well; further detail of his space career would have made better use of those pages.

Any posthumous biography like this will raise questions as to the authenticity of quotes and detail of conversations, but I for one started the book knowing little other than the fact that he commanded Apollo 12 but ended it thinking what a great guy.

Conrad knew his share of sadness. The pages dealing with the death of his son bring a lump to your throat, but the other tragedy is that the genuine good guy revealed by this book is no longer with us to tell his own tale.
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on 8 July 2006
Having read about the Apollo 12 relationships elsewhere (Chalkin, Moondust, and especially Al Bean's book*) I dived into this book hoping to hear more of the most likeable man in the most likeable trio in the whole Space Programme. Sadly the book is written in a very gung-ho manner which distracts from much of the achievements of Pete Conrad.

Pete should have been first on the moon. If the names and number had been shuffled slightly differently between Apollos 8 and 9 we would have had the First Man On The Moon NASA needed. That's not to detract from Mr Armstrong but it seems Pete Conrad proved you could be the best of the best and still be an approachable, likeable guy. Much of that still comes through in this book and for that reason I'll still give it 5 stars. It's just a shame the biographer that was used didn't know how to convey that sense of Right Stuff combined with Nice Guy without going all Hunter S-esque.

* - Buy All Three!
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on 16 July 2005
I`ve read all of the biogs of the Apollo, Gemini and Mercury astronauts and this has to be the best written and most enjoyable account. Probably because it is about the most enjoyable astronaut! The late great Pete Conrad. Even if you aren`t that up on this topic it is still a fascinating read just for his life story and insights into his dynamic character. While other names such as Neil Armstrong took a lot of the glory Conrad (The third man on the moon) was one of the most successful astronauts of them all. Rejected by the selection process for the Mercury Program he went on to fly both Gemini and Apollo missions and was very instrumental in Skylab.
A great account of a great character.
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on 1 July 2007
I really wanted this to be a good book; but I was disappointed. Like a couple of the other reviews of this book, I found the narrative style the author uses awkward and distracting. There are quite a few inaccuracies in the book, some of them really obvious. For example (and I apologise for sounding like a pedantic 'plane spotter') the photo of Pete Conrad on the ladder of an aircraft that is described as '...a T-38, a high-altitude supersonic jet trainer'. No it's not, it's an F-4 Phantom. In 'Carrying the Fire', Michael Collins descibes astronaut Conrad as 'One of the few who lives up to the image.' With a great character and a greater story how could you not write a great book? I really hope the next biography of Pete Conrad will be much better.
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on 23 January 2006
I have read volumes on the NASA astronauts and the Soviet cosmonauts and it was with great excitement and anticipation that I ordered this book. Firstly, a complaint to the usually perfect Amazon; the foreword of this book is by Buzz Aldrin and not Neil Armstrong as you claim. Secondly, this book was written by the chap who wrote the screenplay for "Space Cowboys" and it shows on every page I'm afraid. His style is very Hollywood and it is not so much a biography as a work of fiction based on historical facts (as in The Girl With the Pearl Ear Ring). He goes into detail into what Conrad said, what he thought etc and this is not, and can not be accurate as Conrad tragically died in 1999. Thirdly, it is never explained why his first wife Jane and his three surviving sons have not contributed to this biography. Possibly because they wished to distance themselves from such a trite, cloying and tenuously accurate account of one the best and certainly the most well-loved of the Apollo astronauts. What a pity that this great man could not have had a better and more serious testament. I can only hope that another biographer will do a better job in the future.
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on 13 November 2005
Conrad was one of the most likable of all the 12 Moonwalkers-humorous, self-deprecating and happy to poke fun at those who took themselves too seriously. It was with great joy I saw and I ordered this book. However, it made for disappointing reading. The authors have used a sub-plot (a circumterran Lear jet flight Conrad made in his later years) to pad out what the reader really wants to hear about-Gemini, Apollo and Skylab. It gets very tedious after a while. The writing style was simlar to that one would encounter in a men's 'lifestyle' magazine-colloquial and at times confusing to the non-American reader. But the most annoying things are the many inaccuracies within the telling of the story-eg. Conrad letting Alan Bean (LM Pilot) press the 'Exe' button to launch the LM from the lunar surface-when in fact Conrad let Bean take the controls of the LM whilst they were on the far side of the Moon and away from the snooping eyes of Houston watching the telemetry from the LM (also there's no 'Exe' button-it's a PROceed button). This kind of sloppiness spoiled my enjoyment of the book and made me wonder how much more of the narrative was flawed-areas that we may have no knowledge of like Conrads early life. These errors are clearly because the book was a posthumous effort authored by Conrads second wife and 'another'.
All-in-all a very poor biography of one of the most colourful and potentially accessible characters in involved in the Space programme-and alas it's likely to be all we, the general public, will have specifically of the late, great Charles 'Pete' Conrad Jr.
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on 3 June 2006
Pete Conrad's life as the most colourful astronaut of the Gemini/Apollo/Skylab era provides enough material alone for a marvellous book, (the only one who lived up to the reputation to paraphrase Michael Collins). Given this, I find 'Rocketman' to be an incoherent mess and an opportunity utterly wasted. I have read numerous books about America's space programme and I cannot recall another book so full of inaccuracies and dubious unsupported comment. Pete's life should have been allowed to speak for itself and the story would have been fascinating, not tedious as this book makes it. I've waited a long time to read all about Pete Conrad. I'm still waiting.
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on 3 February 2015
This is one of the slightest books on Apollo astronauts. If feels like it skirts over a lot, there's not much meat on the bones.
The book is written by Conrad's second wife and the bloke who wrote the Space Cowboys movie. Apparently Conrad and his wife had been working on the book prior to his death and a lot of his thoughts were down on tape. I was just left wanting more. It shoots through his time on Apollo and there's precious little about his time on the moon.
Certainly people's affection for him comes through. It's just a shame he never got the chance to write this himself. Fans of Apollo will want to read it, just don't expect much detail.
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on 20 May 2014
Of the many books written of 60s NASA endeavours, this truly stands out. You get to know a great deal about Pete Conrad and his amazing 'rides' in incredibly complex machinery, not to mention his sense of humour and likeability.
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