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on 4 April 2009
...told in an utterly absorbing fashion.One gets the impression that Kranz is aware of how fortunate a working life he has had and tells us the story of it in compelling and gripping fashion.

He has been not only present but intrinsically important to some of the most seminal moments in not only scientific but human evolution and his story is one of intrigue and a burning desire to learn and grow.

He captures the blend of adrenalin, adventure and discipline that drove the extraodinary accomplishments of the era and turns a book that I had high expectations of into a must read addition to the genre.

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on 16 January 2014
Wanted it for Christmas arrived quite a lot later. Thought it was a new copy but it was in reasonable condition. My husband was very pleased with it. though.
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on 3 May 2000
Kranz was a pivotal personality in the development of the American space programme and his long-awaited memoirs add considerably to the technical background against which the missions were flown. He lays out some of the politics -- with a small p -- of the US space programme that others have either glossed over or did not have the insight to be able to comment on. Behind the scenes management meddling and individual personality foibles are honestly described in a refreshing departure from the party line treatment that has characterised many of the works published so far.
But don't look for any great literary merit in this book -- which, depite the aid of numerous profesional helpers, only clunks along for much of the time. The persistent patriotic tub-thumping began to pall to a non-American reader fairly shortly after it started but that having been said, it is a facet of the man which obviously strongly contributed to his drive and determination to do his job with nothing short of perfection as his goal -- and without displaying it Kranz would not have been doing himself justice.
The book is well worth a place on the bookshelves of the serious student of the space programme -- not least for some of the revealing between-the-lines implications of his colleagues' strengths and weaknesses. It will be interesting to compare Kranz's book with Chris Kraft's when -- and if -- that appears.
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on 3 May 2017
Excellent book, very interesting to find out all of the things involved with starting a space program.
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on 30 January 2002
This book is a joy for anyone remotely interested in the US space program. Kranz, a key member of mission control throughout the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs talks frankly about the people and technology directly involved in man's journey to the moon. Never getting loaded with technical jargon, Kranz has blended his personality into this hi-tech story to create an accessible and heart-warming read. His account of the fire of Apollo 1 is searingly painful for it's simplicity, the excitement of being Flight Director for the Apollo 11 moon landing like a beautiful scent wafting up from the pages of this book.
How wonderful also for him to acknowledge the invaluable role played by his wife, when so many other marriages in this stressful time were failing.
I agree wholeheartedly with the reviews on the back of this book - it is a very welcome addition the lore of manned spaceflight. A must for all those interested in this topic.
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on 16 September 2002
Failure Is Not An Option is definatly one of the best books that I have read on the space program. It looks at the inside of the program and the men that held the huge responsibilities of the astronauts lives and mission plans in their hands.
Gene puts you in mission control, in the spacecraft, and in his mind and the minds of other controllers during mision successes and spectacular failures such as the Apollo 1 fire and also the near miss of Apollo 13.
This book is well written, technical at times,funny at times, but a truly brilliant book written about an extraordinary time. You get an insight into what it was like to work in mission control and the stresses it involved.
I could go on and on about this book but I wont drone on.Quite simply if you are interested in the space program you HAVE to buy this book!!
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on 1 December 2005
I have read a lot of books about Apollo but this is the one i keep turning back to. Gene Krantz is simply a fascinating figure and his job in Mission Control the most exiting there was - Period.... Krantz writes with the passion that is burning within every good engineer and he writes in an easily readable style, yes there are a lot of tecnical "mumbo jumbo" in the book but the story is easily understood nevertheless. If you only want to read one book about Apollo it should probably be "Apollo, the Race to the moon" by Murray/Cox but when you've read that one and gotten hooked, this one would be am obvious number two.
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on 16 July 2003
This excellent volume provides an insight into the project development and team building that supported the Mercury, Geminii and Apollo programmes.
Gene Kranz had an overwhelming commitment to his role within Mission Control but the narrative also reveals his ability to nurture those who followed him and the level of admiration he felt for everyone involved in the space programme. The details of mission planning and the emotions felt in times of celebration and tragedy are well docmented.
As a man, Kranz comes across as honest, genuine and loyal - he looks for the good in everyone.
To paraphrase Charlie Duke, the astronauts could not have made their spectacular journeys without the support of those on the ground - this book serves to illustrates the truth of this beyond doubt.
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on 27 August 2008
Gene Kranz does an amazing of showing what people can do if they have the right leadership, teamwork, commitment and passion.

The book allows us to see Kranz's perspective as flight controller, (and later flight director) during his tenure on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs and beyond.

From the tremendous successes, to the gut wrenching failures, to the heroism, to the practical jokes, this book has it all. Gene Kranz was a key player in helping to create a culture of Tough and Competent flight controllers who had discipline and morale. They knew the true meaning of teamwork.

One of the stories that impressed me most was after the devastating tragedy of the Apollo 1. A fire on the pad killed Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffe while they were training in the capsule. Afterwards Kranz got in front of his flight controllers and said:

"Spaceflight will never tolerate carelessness, incapacity, and neglect. Somewhere, somehow, we screwed up. It could have been the design, build, or test. Whatever it was we should have caught it."

Kranz and his people (as well as everyone else on the space program) took responsibility for their actions and went on to amazing successes. We crawled out the cradle of this home we call earth and explored another world. Twelve men in all walked on the moon. Also, three astronauts were brought back home safely from the brink of disaster in Apollo 13. We had truly gone where no man had gone before.

These were human beings, and they are the best of the best. Not an Astronaut was lost during any of the following Apollo missions. The tragedy on the pad drove the commitment of everyone on the space program to an entirely new level. As a matter of fact, not a man was lost once they left earth on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.

Gene Kranz sums up how he gained his skills to be a top flight director when he said:

"The flight director's ultimate training comes at the console, working real problems, facing the risks, making irrevocable decisions."

This book belongs on any bookshelf, but not to be looked at, but to be read and understood. We all have the makings of greatness, we just have to take responsibility for our actions and do the very best we know how. What other amazing things can we accomplish as a species if we have the right leadership, teamwork, commitment, and passion?

The Re-Discovery of Common Sense: A Guide To: The Lost Art of Critical Thinking
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on 18 February 2017
This was a Christmas present from my partner, for a long time I've been fascinated by the space race, and space science in general. I honestly did not put this book down and probably finished it in a few days. Gene Krantz offered an amazing insight into the days when men (and women) were pioneers, writing technical manuals and rules for procedures that hadn't even happened successfully yet. The book is very technical, in a good way - Gene's memory is pin sharp, from his days on the Mercury program, through Gemini and Apollo, the chapter on the moon landing was so emotional that at the end as Gene told of how he cried like a baby, I was too! He takes you on a journey of discovery, pain and triumph.

Anyone who is interested in the space race, needs to read this book.
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