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Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys Paperback – April 3, 2001

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Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys + Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond + A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Cooper Square Press (April 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081541028X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815410287
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,191,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Collins can write…. He is breezy, glib, collegiate, and frequently funny. There are marvelous things in Carrying the Fire that catch a reader unaware every few pages. (The New York Times)

Strikingly authentic. Collins is an extremely good writer, and his lean, forceful prose makes this an unusually readable memoir…. Written with vigor, humor, and unusual insight into men and machines, this is an outstanding book. (Library Journal)

About the Author

Michael Collins, a NASA astronaut, was the third American to walk in space (Gemini 10) and the pilot of the command module during Apollo 11's mission to the moon in July, 1969. Following his career as an astronaut, he served as the director of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. He has since retired and lives in Marco Island, Florida.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Collins displays a fine writing style and wry sense of humor.
Kevin Orrman-Rossiter
Michael Collins' "Carrying the Fire" is the best first-person account written by a Gemini/Apollo-era astronaut.
Allan Bourdius
If you are interested in the space program and space exploration in general, you must read this book.
Andre Hebra

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 102 people found the following review helpful By J. Dangelo on August 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I found this book by referral from other's reviews of lesser astronaut books. Several reviews said, in effect, "don't read this book but find yourself a copy of Carrying the Fire." So I did and now I know what they meant.
Michael Collins was the third astronaut on the famous Apollo 11 flight that landed on the moon in July, 1969. Unfortunately, because he wasn't one of the two in the Lunar Module, he isn't often mentioned. He stayed in lunar orbit as the Command Module Pilot. This book is Collins' telling of what it was like to be an astronaut, both in the Gemini and Apollo programs. He talks about the astronaut selection process, and what it was like to go through it. And he tells the story - from a very personal perspective, of what it was like, what he felt, what he worried about, what angered him, and get the idea - of preparing for and flying a Gemini and Apollo mission.
Because this is his story, and his first person telling of the story, there isn't really anything here about the lunar landing itself. Rather, he talks about what he was doing when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed and walked on the moon.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It often made me laugh out loud and I certainly believe that I now know how Collins felt during his tenure as one of America's Astronauts. I found the book both well-written and engaging. I also found, to my surprise, that this is a humble, revealing and candid story. Highly recommended if you are interested in the genre.
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61 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on April 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
There have been several excellent Apollo astronaut memoirs, especially Gene Cernan's "The Last Man on the Moon" and Jim Lovell's "Lost Moon," which was made into the feature film "Apollo 13." This one is still the most honest and reflective of them all. It extends a tradition of the aviator as litterateur into the age of space travel.
Collins had an illustrious career as an astronaut. Chosen in the third group of astronauts in 1963, he served as backup pilot for Gemini VII, pilot for Gemini X, and command module pilot for Apollo 11. On that last mission he became the loneliest man in the universe when his two crewmates, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, landed on the Moon while he remained in orbit around the Moon in the Command Module. In "Carrying the Fire" Collins writes of his solitude in lunar orbit in July 1969. As he disappeared on the backside of the Moon from Earth, he recalled, "I am alone now, truly alone, and absolutely isolated from any known life, I am it. If a count were taken, the score would be three billion plus two over on the other side of the moon, and one plus God only knows what on this side. I feel this powerfully-not as fear or loneliness-but as awareness, anticipation, satisfaction, confidence, almost exultation. I like the feeling. Outside my window I can see stars-and that is all. Where I know the moon to be, there is simply a black void, the moon's presence is defined solely by the absence of stars." He compared it to being in a skiff in the middle of the ocean with only the stars above and black water below. It proved a profoundly moving experience for him.
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Vaughn Davis on March 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I admit it, I took this book out from the school library when I was 12 and still have it 20 years later. Even at five cents a week, the overdue fees are not worth thinking about. As a schoolkid in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, not many of us dreamed we could ever be astronauts. After reading this book, I did. It didn't matter that by the early 1980s when I read Carrying the Fire there was no manned space programme to speak of. It didn't much matter that I didn't become an astronaut, just a military pilot.
What matters is that Colins's story touched, inspired and motivated me to believe I could do anything I put my mind to, and showed that there's more to success than glory, adulation or being the one kids can remember in history quizzes.
Good on you, Michael Collins. You're an inspiration. All you Amazonians out there who've leapt onto the space history band-chariot since Apollo 13/Earth to the Moon, take note. This is where it started. Find a copy and read it (just don't bother trying to get one from the Hutt Valley High School Library - it's out on loan right now.)
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "bcj222" on September 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
Michael Collins was command module pilot of the historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon in July 1969. Had he not forged such a distinguished record of achievement in the cockpits of exotic, out-of-this-world air & space craft, first as fighter jet test pilot and then as astronaut, Collins would have likely experienced noteworthy success at the keyboard as a writer. After seeing this book on a recent list of the "100 Greatest Adventure Stories," I decided to give it a read. Collins' brilliant narrative helped me rediscover those feelings of admiration, wonder and awe that I experienced as a young boy while watching the space launches and moon walks on B&W TV. This is a fascinating, revealing and oh so candid first person account of the pathway that took Collins to the moon and back--his early career as a fighter jet test pilot, selection and induction into the astronaut corps, preparation and training of an astronaut, the personalities of many of Collins' colleagues in the space program, the exquisite and intricate planning intended to minimize the risks to these brave explorers and ensure their success, his own anxieties and something of the impact on the families of the astronauts. All of technology's wonderous achievements of the last 20 years, e.g., laptop computers, cellular phones, internet, cable TV, etc. seem to pale in comparison to the marvel of sending man to the moon and bringing him home again...safely. While circling the moon in the command module Columbia, Collins needed to correctly press a sequence of computer buttons 850 times just to manage a successful rendezvous with his partners Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as they returned from the surface of the moon in the lunar module Eagle.Read more ›
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