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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Movie whets appetite, book fills it!
It had been a long time since I first saw the Apollo 13 movie and it was on TV, so I stopped and watched (and didn't move again until it was finished). The movie was fascinating, and it really triggered an interest to know more about what actually happened. With the limited time format in a movie to convey the technical information and the science behind 'slingshotting'...
Published on September 14, 2002 by K. L Sadler

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting account let down by workmanlike writing
This is a good book for space fans but not the best introduction to Apollo or to the experience of being an Apollo astronaut.

It's good because it gives a much fuller (and obviously more accurate) account of the 13 mission than the famous (and fun to watch) movie. If you know a bit about the Apollo program already and can keep all the various mission control...
Published 18 months ago by Richard


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Movie whets appetite, book fills it!, September 14, 2002
It had been a long time since I first saw the Apollo 13 movie and it was on TV, so I stopped and watched (and didn't move again until it was finished). The movie was fascinating, and it really triggered an interest to know more about what actually happened. With the limited time format in a movie to convey the technical information and the science behind 'slingshotting' the Apollo spacecraft around the moon, it was difficult to the full impact of the immense effort to get these men back safely. So when I had an opportunity to get the book, I did.
I think this is the first time I've read a book and seen a movie that were both excellent. The movie did the best possible job in a limited time to convey the urgency. The book, which is filled with the conversations of the astronauts with NASA space center, as well as the innovation behind the scenes of all the men involved (and the companies) is absolute 'must' reading for anyone who wants to understand the science and engineering behind this almost-disaster. I beg to differ with the men who felt they had failed, including Lovell who did not get to land on the moon. Without the knowledge they gained from this flight, more people may have died...and it certainly advanced knowledge and understanding for space flight for the rest of us left on earth below.
This is an incredible story and an well-written book. I could hardly put the thing down, and this is not an area of expertise or interest for me usually. It's a little hard to keep the names and people straight, because so many were involved. But it is worth the effort. This is an excellent book to give to students interested in space or engineering. I could see requiring this book to be read in science classrooms, showing the movie, and then having the students get more involved in the actual science, such as calculations of distances...map/reliefs of why the moon for a slingshot effect, etc.
Great stuff, and for once, great men who truly can be called heroes (both on the earth and in space). A means of teaching that true heroes are those who use their minds and actually 'do' something that has an impact for good.
Karen Sadler,
Science Education,
University of Pittsburgh
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More remarkable than the movie�, October 18, 2000
This review is from: Apollo 13: Anniversary Edition (Hardcover)
Apollo 13 is one of History's great voyages regardless of how long one extends the time frame into the past. If the mission had transpired faultlessly, it still would have qualified for the astonishing, remarkable, achievement it would have been. With the malfunctions that cascaded upon the 3 crewmen, they, together with the men and women on the ground, created their own miracle when the splashdown with the 3 crewmembers was completed. The return, in spite of the overwhelming odds that were against them, places this trip in category of great human achievement, even as it is hoped it never need be repeated.
One fact helped to put the trip into perspective for me. If you have a hand held calculator nearby, pick it up. The chances are the computing power you hold in your hand surpasses that available to the crew in their effort to come home. The movie demonstrated this with slid rules and math completed with paper and pencil. The whole event is almost unimaginable.
The book is worth reading because as hard as it may be to fathom, the actual trip was even more hazardous, the problems even more numerous than the movie portrayed. I am not suggesting the movie was flawed, only that it was limited by time for telling the entire story.
I met Mr. John L. Swigert when I was quite young. My memories are limited but I have a picture that was taken with him that is a treasure. Several years ago I heard Mr. Jim Lovell speak, and his remarks confirmed that the actual trip held hazards the movie did not depict. As he related parts of the story the impression was of a man who was always in control, a leader, and utterly confident in the men he flew with, and those they relied so heavily with on the ground. There was nothing about him that gave the impression that what he did was special. He is part of that "Greatest Generation", and he represents that group faultlessly.
I was able to meet him after the dinner, and I had my photo of Mr. Swigert with me. He was as cordial as anyone could be. There was no artifice about him, no sense that he was special. He took time to chat both with me, and a young man who also was at the dinner.
Speaking and listening to him, you felt that you were in the presence of someone who was unique, not only for his remarkable career in the service of his Country, but for the man he was. He is a hero. I cannot describe the feeling of speaking with him, but I hope everyone has a chance to meet such a man. When you stand next to him, you stand next to History in all its splendor and modesty.
The book tells a story that happened only once, and cannot happen the same way again. If you were on the edge of your seat during the movie, the book is no different. If you feel lightheaded, it's because you have forgotten to breathe.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tying up loose ends..., November 26, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Apollo 13: Anniversary Edition (Hardcover)
Did you see the movie and wonder some things? Like what WAS that PC+2 burn they kept talking about in the movie? (A burn to speed up the ship that occured 2 hours after the craft reached the pericynthion of its orbit, or the closest point the craft came to the moon) Did that seat-of-the-pants burn that was shown actually occur? (Yes, it did, but only lasted 14 seconds instead of the 30 in the movie) Did Jim Lovell really tell his wife that they were not going to Acupulco (sic) but instead the moon? (Yes, but during Apollo 8)
Just as engaging as the (wonderful) movie and twice as informative (not that the movie WASN'T, just that the book lasts longer then the movie), this book is a great read even if you are not into the Apollo era. It is filled with ironic humor ("...Apollo 13, so the Houston guys now had it, would be coming home on the afternoon of April 17 - or perhaps on the evening of the seventeenth, or perhaps sometime on the eighteenth - and would be splashing down in the South Pacific - or perhaps the Indian Ocean, or perhaps the Atlantic.") and loads of information, which make the movie look like it tells you nothing. Information is included on the trans-lunar injection simply mentioned in the movie (which got Apollo 13 going towards the moon), the PC+2 burn, an explosion of one of the betteries in the LEM, yet another quick burn about 5 hours before reentry, and a description of why the explosion occured that is far more satisfying then what was offered in the movie.
See the movie, then read the book. Then see the movie again. And enjoy. :)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVED this book!, November 7, 2000
Let me start off by saying that I do NOT understand Orbital Mechanics and Quantum Physics or what Gimbal Lock is...however after reading 'Apollo 13' I felt as though I STILL didn't know... but could fake it if I had to. I have been utterly fascinated with the moon landings ever since watching TV in '69 and seeing the entire planet rivited on what a couple Americans were doing a quater-million miles away from earth. It STILL facinates me.

This story of the ONLY moon-shot that didn't make it is as dramatic as anything you could possibly read. I assume most everyone saw the movie (which SHOULD have won Ron Howard an Academy Award for Best Director) and as good as it was, they left out SO MUCH of what ELSE went wrong on that voyage. After reading I kept thinking, 'Is this an exercise in whatever CAN go wrong WILL go wrong?' I am SO amazed that these men made it back to earth despite being stuck in a crippled spacecraft with NO possible chance of a rescue mission. While Apollo 11 was considered one of the monumental accomplishments of humanity, I submit that bringing Apollo 13 successfully BACK home--especially after the devestating explosion it went through--was an even bigger miracle...possibly the greatest achievement of mankind.

It really was the collective efforts of hundreds of people that made it all happen. Despite the fact that these men did NOT land on the moon, it really was an incredible story of how a large group of people working together can truly do heroic things. I encourage ANYONE who found the movie interesting to pick this book up and get a chance to find out the WHOLE story...trust me, there was simply NO WAY to bring it all to the silver screen (not without making it a mini-series anyway) and do it justice. It's an inspiring and sometimes terrifying tale, even though you KNOW how it all ends. It gave me even more respect for those who not just gave their life for the chance to explore space, but made me proud to be an American--now I KNOW that sounds cliche, but it's the only way to describe how incredibly amazed I was at this fantastic story. They say truth IS stranger than fiction, and while this story WASN'T strange, I would have to say it was certainly a LOT more dramatic. Non-Fiction rarely (if ever) gets any more thrilling and dramatic than this.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Historical Text, December 1, 1999
I picked up this book thinking it would be more or less a synopsis of the events portrayed in the movie. Much to my enjoyment that was not the case at all. This book is a thorough history of the events surrounding the mission of Apollo 13. It contains a good bit of historical perspecive of the programs leading up to the Apollo missions themselves (Mercury and Gemini) as well as the "inner thoughts" of many involved with the space program. It is relatively even handed in its portrayal of NASA -- although at least partially penned by Jim Lovell, it is willing to point out the weaknesess in the program.
A very enjoyable story, as well as a look at our space program's history.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable --the mission commander's own account, March 22, 2006
By 
John (Southern California) - See all my reviews
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A History Channel interviewer asked Jim Lovell if the movie represented what really happened. Lovell politely answered in the affirmative, but this story of his is quite different. It also includes a protracted, horrible account of The Fire that was later named "Apollo 1" in deference to the deceased, his other lunar mission (Apollo 8), and more, with details not mentioned even in Andrew Chaikin's excellent tome A Man on the Moon. I found the book well-balanced in terms of how much technical detail to include. It is a good read.

While consulting for NASA I found an obscure little book written by an engineer that told more details of the mishap than the movie did (of course), but even his explanation of oxygen tank #2's explosion was not as complete as the one in the epilogue of this book. This is the most satisfactory and complete explanation I've seen. It made me realize that it was only a fluke that the explosion occurred when it did (there had already been two previous cryo-stirs in the flight); Lovell and Haise could have easily been stranded on the moon with Sweigart orbiting for eternity in his ghost ship. Lovell openly recounts his chance to have the O2 tank swapped out for a new one.

If I were to pick nits, I would pick only two: (1) although Jeff Kluger is a competent writer with the gift for finding the right word, he sometimes drops in an incongruous big word (like "brobdingnagian" --sheesh), and (2) instead of a photo of the Apollo 13 crew, the cover bears the countenance of the miscast actor who played Lovell in the movie. He's a good actor, but Jim Lovell he ain't; I suspect that's why Lovell said in the interview that it is hard to watch oneself being portrayed by an actor.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Updated General and Technical Detail About a Near-Disaster in Space, November 14, 2006
This review is from: Apollo 13: Anniversary Edition (Hardcover)
This reprint of LOST MOON contains an introduction that updates events that had taken place in space in the decades after Apollo 13 flew. There is discussion, for example, of the Challenger disaster in 1986.

As someone who has been fascinated with space flight since childhood, and who well remembers the real Apollo 13 from his teenage years, I found this book a fascinating reminder of history. However, this book is about much more than the aborted flight of Apollo 13. It includes historical flashbacks that involved astronaut James Lovell. One chapter describes Lovell's teenage years as he launched homemade rockets. Another summarizes the early years of space exploration in the wake of Sputnik 1. Still another describes the selection of Lovell as an astronaut in late 1962. There is also a chapter on the Apollo 1 fire. Some of Lovell's closest friends perished in that needless tragedy. There is a fine description of the historical flight of Apollo 8, that Christmas lunar orbit in 1968. It included a reading from the Book of Genesis.

Now let us consider the implications of the situation aboard Apollo 13. In preparations for potential in-space emergencies, no one had imagined the simultaneous loss of both main oxygen tanks and all three fuel cells. This left the Odyssey itself with only a few hours of remaining oxygen, water, and electricity. Lovell and Kluge note that mission rules forbid a lunar landing if only one fuel cell becomes inoperable, even if nothing else is wrong. But the "Can the moon landing be saved?" quickly gave way to "Can the astronaut's lives be saved?"

The initial belief was that a meteoroid must have hit the ship. This later was discounted when the blown-open side of the service module became visible shortly after being jettisoned prior to re-entry. Clearly, the explosion must have originated from within the service module itself. Later investigation pointed to a confluence of factors, none decisive in and of themselves, that had combined to precipitate the near-tragedy. To begin with, the wrong-power fuses were being used within the oxygen tanks. When overloaded, they simply melted, allowing the overload of electricity to pass through. During assembly, the oxygen tank had been dropped, damaging an exit tube. During launch-pad exercises, the liquid oxygen was drained past the damaged exit tube by applying extra heat to drive the oxygen out another way. The sensor was not designed to warn of overheating above 80 F. Meanwhile, this procedure had unknowingly raised the temperatures to impossible levels, burning the insulation off much of the wire inside the oxygen tank. The first two times the stirring fan was turned on in space, there was no problem. But the third time, a spark must have flown and ignited the damaged insulation in the pure-oxygen environment, causing the explosion. The explosion itself damaged a tube connected to the second oxygen tank, thus draining it.

The book provides good detail about the dangers and challenges associated with the abort procedure itself. The decision was made not to attempt to fire the service module engine in order to reverse the flight direction in a deep-space abort, if only because the damaged service module might be unable to take the strain of the engine's thrust. The first critical burn of the lunar module's descent engine, done some six hours after the explosion and designed to change the hybrid trajectory back into a free-return trajectory, would have caused the Apollo 13 to crash into the far side of the moon if done incorrectly. Without the burn, however, Apollo 13 would be stuck in a 40,000 by 240,000 mile elliptical orbit around the Earth. Thoughts were also entertained about jettisoning the useless service module and using the lunar module's descent engine to accelerate the ship considerably--returning it from the vicinity of the moon to Earth in only some 36 hours. But this was not done out of fear that exposure of the command module's heat shield to the temperature extremes of space might damage it.

Everything on the ship had to be powered down--a strategy that worked, just barely. The severe cold aboard the ship, a secondary consequence of the powering down of all nonessential equipment, is described. The astronauts had a frosty breath. Some got urinary infections. They had a hard time getting comfortable enough to sleep.

The astronauts were slowly being poisoned by their own carbon dioxide. This was solved by the jury-rigging of the lithium hydroxide "scrubbers" of the command module to get them to fit into the circulation system of the lunar module. Just before re-entry, there were the challenges of successfully reviving the systems aboard the command module, and jettisoning both the service and lunar modules in a completely unconventional manner.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, June 17, 2002
By 
Of course, this is going to be the definitive book on Apollo 13, written by James Lovell himself. I absolutely loved this book. It reads like a novel, instead of a dry technical briefing (ie Kranz's book, Tom Kelly's Lunar module book). Lovell was right to set the book in the third-person viewpoint, since that lends it to easily switch to Marilyn's role, and the flight controllers' roles in the flight of Apollo 13. Highly recommended for any closet astronaut such as myself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much different than other Apollo "tell-all" accounts..., April 26, 2001
Most of the other first person accounts from ex-astronauts are mearly a re-hashing of their careers, but I think that Jim Lovell must be the one true "story-teller" amoung the former Apollo astronauts. That virtue plus his inclusion of the Misiion Control transcripts from Apollo 13 make this story stand out from the rest (it also doesn't hurt to have an amazing story to tell like the near disaster of Apollo 13!). If you're like me and think that the people in Mission Control and their roles are as important as the astronouts, than you'll love this book. Read this before any of the other astronaut stories and I'll bet that you agree that this is the best one...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Kluger-Lovell Masterpiece, March 20, 2001
By 
Donn Weinberg (Owings Mills, MD USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I don't want to repeat all of the well-deserved accolades in the other reviews, but knowing how these kinds of co-authored books really are written, it appears that most of the credit for the marvelous, engrossing writing style of Apollo 13 goes to its co-author, Jeffrey Kluger. Astronaut Jim Lovell provides Mr. Kluger with lots of information and leads to information, but Kluger was the one who put it all together in this magnificent book. As one who has followed his other writings, too, I must say that Kluger deserves recognition as one of the best writers of our era, particularly in his facile ability to explain complicated scientific information to a lay audience. Read Kluger's later book, "Journey Beyond Selene" (being rereleased in paperback as "Moon Hunters"), and you will know even better what I mean.
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Apollo 13: Anniversary Edition
Apollo 13: Anniversary Edition by Jeffrey Kluger (Hardcover - April 11, 2000)
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