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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 2 December 2003
I was too small to remember much of the feelings around the world when the news broke that Apollo 13 had had an explosion onboard, and the crew's safety was in doubt. By all accounts the whole world seemed to hold its collective breath until the command module splashed down.
In this book the inside anxiety of the crew, as well as all at mission control and their contractors is conveyed. It is really a story of how everyone---hundreds, if not thousands of people---pulled together to save the lives of three men, left drifting in space with dangerously low resources. The inventiveness of solving each problem is amazing; and the problems kept mounting. Carbondioxide poisoning, skewed trajectories, no navigation computers, potentially damaged rockets, doubtful heatshield. At each stage the team worked the problem as best they could with inventiveness and true grit; never giving up. The explanation of the accident's cause is as intriguing as the tale itself (glossed over in the film), and serves as warning to all who work on safety critical system.
It is a true American tale---a success in failure, as it showed how America could "organize and measure the best of [thier] energies and skills" as Kennedy said at Rice University.
This collaborative effort between the commander of Apollo 13, Jim Lovell, and Jeff Kluger makes for a terrific read and captures the feeling of the times wonderfully. A tale which is now part of American history.
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on 16 November 2003
Terrific story to tell, great book and well presented. If you saw the Tom Hanks film then this book adds in some of the details and characters that were 'repackaged' for the Hollywood film version. The photos in the middle of the wrecked ship stop you and make you think how lucky these guys were.
Great book, I left my original copy on a flight in China last month and so had to order another... even though I had finished it I know this is one I will come back to again!
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on 14 September 2009
The book on which the 1994 film "Apollo 13" was based is a rather wonderful read. Jeffrey Kluger has turned Jim Lovell's fascinating take on the four-and-a-bit days he spent surviving a near catastrophe in the spaceship he commanded into a very entertainingly written book which never falls into swathes of dull technospeak.

Much of the material had to be by necessity compacted or omitted from the screenplay and so it is an enormous pleasure to be able to read the full story "warts and all", including a NASA insider's take on the dreadful Apollo 1 fire and the final report into the events that led up to the failures of the Apollo 13 capsule. Mostly, however, the negatives are not dwelt upon, and it is the successful return of Astronauts Lovell, Swigert and Haise and how that was made possible that is rightly the main focus of this story.

Jim Lovell comes across as a truly level-headed guy and precisely the person you would want as your Commander in a spaceship that's gone wrong a quarter of a million miles from Earth. Some aspects of his life before and after the experiences of 13 - 17 April 1970 are also mentioned, as well as those of his worried Earthbound family at the time, but it is the story of mission itself and the terrific support of those ever-so-clever folk at NASA which grips and fascinates the reader for the bulk of this book.

There is a real sense of Jim Lovell's personal loss at missing his one chance at ever walking on the Moon after all his years of training, but the triumph of the story of their survival against incredible odds will probably outlast that of some of the later Moon missions in the public memory and, after the first lunar landing, in many ways this has become the other iconic story from all the Apollo missions.

A very impressive book indeed.
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on 24 February 2001
This is am amazing book telling the true story of the Apollo 13 mision, which after a number of serious catastrophes made it back to earth against all the odds. The story is almost unbelieveable, it is amazing that anyone else went into space after this. It also goes to show that the staff on the ground are just as much heros as the astronauts. The authors go into extreme detail about this and previous missions. This book is a must for anyone interested in space flight, and anyone who saw the film and enjoyed it.
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on 8 December 2013
I got this after watching the film for what must have been the twentieth time and, thinking I knew the story inside-out, wondered what I was missing.

The book gives a lot of interesting background to Lovell's life and the early days of the Astronaut programme. The Apollo 1 Launchpad fire is covered in some detail as are a number of other fatal accidents. This isn't unnecessarily macabre, as understanding the human and technical failings is key to understanding the root cause of the Apollo 13 story and the subsequent NASA incidents.

There are a lot of 'characters' in the book as one would expect, however I didn't really feel we got to 'know' any of them at all, less perhaps the Lovell's. This is disappointing. I'd like to have learned more about Haise and Swiggert especially but apart from maybe one or two nuggets of info, very little of their character really comes through.

Overall, the story can get a bit dry in places and doesn't leave the reader feeling the same frenetic pace of activity that they will have enjoyed watching the film. Understandable, but for me, costs an otherwise detailed account a five star rating. Regardless, true fans of the film must read it and those who want an insight into how an organisation like NASA transforms itself 'in contact' in order to meet the aim is hugely interesting, although it is this latter point that I would have loved to read more of.
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on 20 October 2016
If you liked the film, with it's stunning James Horner film score, this book will not disappoint. It goes into much more detail about the mission and how they managed to get the 3 astronauts back: the technical details are not boring and easily understandable. It's a gripping read and James Lowell brings it all vividly to life. Who better to explain what happened than the remarkable man who was actually there?
Highly recommended.
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on 14 October 2002
This book was thoroughly enjoyable. Lovell et al give us a history of the NASA space program. It tells the story from three different sides. 1) The story of the mission on board the ship 2)From mission control 3) From the point of view of Lovell's wife.
The book does go into technical details but it is all explained in simple in english so the reader is given a real understanding of how NASA worked.
I can strongly recommend this book. Very good.
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on 14 February 2000
Reading this book feels like flying with apollo 13, an unbelievable experience. For space enthusiasts and for those who remember that apollo 13 is not just a science fiction film. Jim Lovell was actually aboard!
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on 17 July 2015
My wife bought this for me as a present. The facts and details clearly supplied by Lovell are amazing and so informative, shame the over the top phrasing and words used by Kluger spoil the actual reading/story experience. However, that aside, if you have any interest in this subject, I'd still recommend it, just be prepared for silly, ridiculous, unnecessary writing in between the mesmerising detail!
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on 6 February 2009
I was fourteen years old when Apollo 13 was in difficulties and can vividly remember coming home from school and watching the six o'clock news (in black & white) desperate to know they were safe. The relief, everyone felt, when they landed safely. When reading the book I was unable to put it down. It brought the people involved to life and also made me realise how amazing it was that they actually survived. I would recommended this book to everyone. It has the right balance of a personal story and a dramatic but factual account of the voyage.
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