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Chariots for Apollo:: The Untold Story Behind the Race to the Moon Paperback – June 8, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0380802616 ISBN-10: 0380802619 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Quill; First Edition edition (June 8, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380802619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380802616
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,286,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This is a readable, colorful book that should be approached with caution. The authors put Grumman Corporation, prime contractor for the lunar module, in center stage. While contractors often get less credit than they deserve, the emphasis here results in an unbalanced view. The resolution of major issues generally was much more complex than the narrative suggests. One might infer from the text that a Grumman executive singlehandedly convinced the White House to implement the Space Station program. Finally, the authors have re-created some of the correspondence and dialogue, a technique which is not always successful. Which parts are historically accurate and which are not? In spite of dramatic writing, use of historically significant material, and a number of interesting illustrations, this, by its nature, appears to be a rather subjective account. Roger E. Bilstein, History Dept., Univ. of HoustonClear Lake
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Dr. Charles Pellegrino is the author of twelve books, including Unearthing Atlantis and Her Name, Titanic. He is a paleontologist who designs robotic space probes and relativistic rockets. In his spare time, Pellegrino writes mindbending technothrillers. Jan de Bont, the director of Speed and Twister, has recently signed on to direct the film adaptation of Pellegrino's Dust. Dr. Pellegrino lives in New York.

Customer Reviews

This is the book to read when you want to dig deeper.
Ryan Ferguson
A good human story presenting insight into the engineers personalities and how they delt with the tremendous responsibility that was placed upon them.
Stephen A Haines
An indispensable book for any amateur historian of the space age.
John Rummel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
I saw this book listed after seaching for more books about the Apollo program. I have read Andrew Chaikin's book, and a book called "Angle of Attack." The excellent Apollo 13 movie and the Hanks series on HBO also whetted my interest. Although the astronaut stories are fascinating, and worthwhile, the astronauts were the tip of the iceberg. I wanted to read about the engineering aspects of the program. This book is not what I hoped it would be. The book is mostly about the Lunar Module. There is little discussion about the Command Module or the Service Module. There is no discussion of the Saturn rocket, or how the launch systems were designed. Personally, I find the crawler as incredible machine onto itself. I would love to know how the program was able to come together in so few years. The book hints that government studies had occurred going back to the mid-1950's discussing the feasibility of going to the moon. Thus, Kennedy's decision was not so rash as one may be led to believe by popular accounts. This book hints little at that subterfuge. Also, the book is incomplete in the discussion of Grumman's selection as the builder of the Apollo LM. There was an incredible rivalry between the large defense companies, and NASA, this is barely hinted at by the author. Overall, if you are interested in Apollo, this book is worth reading, but unfortunately, it only serves to make you want to write a book yourself on this subject because of the incompleteness, and your piqued curiosity, and your overwhelming desire to suddenly visit a certain landfill on Long Island with a shovel. However, this book also hints at the incredible frustration I feel with our country. We were probably never better as a civilization as we were during the Apollo years.Read more ›
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jim Kirk on February 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
Overall, this was a worthwhile read. As others have noted, the cover is misleading. This book is a detailed chronicle of the manufacture of the Lunar Module, and not a general history of the Apollo program. In fact, given the number of general apollo histories available, I think it would have sold better had it been more aptly titled. Although a tad melodramatic, the authors weave a cohesive narrative and truly convey the enormous complexity of designing and building the LM. It was nice to read a book that was not just about the astronauts but instead about those who actually put them into space. I would reccommend this book for serious space enthusiasts and not the casual reader. The best chapter is the last one, dealing with the end of the LM program and the fate of the lunar modules, both those that went to the moon and those that stayed on the earth.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Ferguson on October 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
Great book! There are many, many "Space Race" books out there with basically the same tale to tell. This is the book to read when you want to dig deeper. Detailed info, funny anecdotes, and incredibly interesting stories of the design and construction of the LM. I for am pleased that Pellegrino/Stoff chose to focus on one aspect of this often-told story, and tell it very well indeed. I will definitely be re-reading this one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is an entertaining account of the teams that designed and built the Lunar Module, one of the most complex and highly engineered craft in the history of space travel. Given the extreme requirements for light weight and efficiency, combined with zero tolerance for flaws, the elegant LM deserves its own book.
I'm not sure that this book does it justice, though. First of all, nothing on the cover of the book (illustrated with a crescent moon and a picture of Buzz, but no LM) indicates that it is devoted to the story of the LM. Furthermore, the sections and chapters are more like a buffet, with little morsels and anecdotes arranged in chronologic order. Worse, at times the writing seems self-conscious and overdone.
But oh, the story of the LM. Glorious. It IS fascinating. This reader came away from the book with a sense of just how incredibly exotic the vehicle was. From sheets of aluminum so thin you could see through them, to the ultra-toxic hypergolic fuel and its ultra-corrosive oxidizer, to a completely new welding technology using gold and microwaves, the LM was a cornucopia of innovation. The Grumman staff were no less remarkable in their dedication and emotional involvement in the program. They designed and built these spidery craft working 16-20+ hour days 7 days a week, for years fending off hostile NASA inspectors, risking and somethimes destroying their marriages. Many wept when Neil and Buzz landed safely on the moon.
"Chariots" is valuable because it is the only book that talks about the LM and does so in very human terms: obsession, pride, dedication, absolute attention to detail. It is a pity the authors couldn't have done a little better job at advertising the mission of the book on its cover. The LM and its creators deserve a lot more fanfare.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Harju on January 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
The awe-inspiring successes of the Apollo program have unfortunately served to hide the tireless efforts of the armies of technicians that made it happen. "Chariots for Apollo" serves to correct that oversight. The Grumman "Iron Works" on Long Island, NY was home to the astounding Lunar Excursion Module, the world's first (and still only) true manned "spacecraft", and this is the unabridged story of how it came to be.
Although many books about the space program trumpet its triumphs, the costly human side of this colossal technological initiative, the ultimate goal of which was to beat the Soviets to the moon, is revealed here. In reading this book, one gets a palpable sense of the almost unbelieveable stresses borne by the bold scientists and engineers who took this monster on and made the dream a reality, and that their staggering achievements were not without penalty in human lives. The book pulls no punches in discussing the psychological costs to those involved in terms of broken families, alcoholism, suicide, and even cases where people literally died of exhaustion.
Interesting, easy-to-read technical anecdotes about how the the most revolutionary craft since the Wright Flyer was made, and how huge technical obstacles were surmounted with ingenuity, will interest and at times amuse the reader. In sum, the book covers both the technical and the personal well, but doesn't overwhelm with jargon, and leaves the reader feeling a glow of pride in their achievement. Highly recommended.
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