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Houston, we have a problem.,
This review is from: Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth (Paperback)
Despite a stellar launch describing the agonising suspense of the first moon landing, Moondust soon plummets disappointingly back to earth. Awkwardly caught between biography and travelogue and between accurate description and personal reflection, Andrew Smith's first book suffers from the same lack of direction that has evidently plagued the space programme in recent decades.
Putting aside the occasionally sloppy writing style, tricky phrasings and an irritating "I would later discover..." narrative device, Moondust has the feel of a distended "Where are they now?" magazine article, which may be an inevitable consequence of Smith's journalistic background. Sadly, many of the interesting observations, reflections and revelations in this account are second-hand - borrowed honestly from third-party sources, the masses of existing literature on this well-trodden subject, and rarely from the nine surviving moonwalkers themselves.
Nevertheless, the informality of this book may appeal to those who cannot stomach a more factual analysis of the Apollo programme - Smith's hazy recollection of his childhood and an ongoing commentary on the political situation of America in the late 1960's certainly sets the scene for mankind's `giant leap' into the unknown. As this is forced to prop up an increasingly skimpy collection of anecdotes from each astronaut however - not to mention a disappointing no-show from the elusive Neil Armstrong - one cannot help wondering whether other accounts of the moon landings (many of which Smith teasingly references) would provide a more fulfilling exposition of this fascinating subject.