Top positive review
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A fascinating and riveting read
on 14 July 2013
Three and a half years after buying the 2009 reprint of this book I finally got around to reading it, and am glad I did as it turned out to be very readable, detailed and packed full of interesting facts and background information on the Apollo project and the sequence of events in an Apollo mission, from before lift-off all the way to splash-down.
This book must have been a labour of love for the author and taken ages to complete, as he has crammed so much detail into the book. And yet he still managed to make it palatable and understandable to the non-specialist. It's not light reading, mind you, but I found it griping nonetheless. I did have to re-read some of the explanations to make sure I understood them correctly, but I take off my hat to the author for his explanations of some complex concepts and engineering solutions in ways that do not lose the reader. He even addresses the practicalities of ablution, eating, urinating and defecating with which the Apollo crewmen had to contend. I already knew some of the facts in this book, but many others were new to me (for example I had wondered how the Command Module was guided to its splash-down site with such precision).
I only have a couple of minor quibbles with the book: a) the descriptions of the rocket stages given in Chapter 1 would have been better had there been a large diagram of the Saturn V indicating the different stages and interstage rings (something like e.g. the diagram in Chapter 4 showing the third stage, Service Module and Command Module), spread over two whole pages or even as a pull-out; b) the Glossary at the end of the book is missing a few of the abbreviations and acronyms mentioned in the chapters. Also, I could be mistaken, but I have a feeling the author mentions the '8-ball' before explaining what is is later in the book. Anyway, it's a super book and well worth reading. Since I bought my copy in 2009 a second edition has been released. The new edition may well address some of my comments and indeed improve the book in other areas, so make sure you buy the latest edition.
Highly recommended if you've ever wondered how the scientists, engineers and others of the several hundred thousand professionals involved in the Apollo programme got men to the Moon and back, how the voyage actually progressed and how the astronauts felt.