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Countdown: An Autobiography

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The exciting account included here of Borman's NASA years (he took part in the Gemini 7 and Apollo 8 spaceflights, and also served as a troubleshooter and project manager) augments Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff with details, dialogue and perceptions that will interest admirers of that bestseller. In 1970, Borman went to work for Eastern Airlines, a company "riddled with inept management and uncaring unions," to eventually take over as president and CEO. His most difficult task: cutting labor costs. The book describes Eastern's prolonged, bitter struggle to remain independent, a management/labor fight Borman lost in 1986 when Eastern became part of Texas Air. The most impressive section of this highly readable autobiography, coauthored with novelist Sterling ( The President's Plane Is Missing ), is the depiction of Borman's confrontations with intransigent labor leaders and the dynamics of their negotiations. Also memorable is the tribute to Susan Borman's poignant struggle to be "the Perfect Wife married to the Perfect Husband who was the Perfect Astronaut in a Perfect American Family raising Perfect Children." Borman is now an aviation consultant. Photos.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company (October 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 5552106857
  • ISBN-13: 978-5552106851
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,019,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have yet to see a better and more credible depiction of the upside/downside of astronaut persona. In his modest and understated way Frank Borman describes his career through the military, the astronaut program, and the private business sector. A genuinely honest man who embodied the best values of middle America, Borman commanded two of the most visible and critical flights of the early manned space program: the epic endurance flight Gemini 7 in 1965 and the stunning circumlunar Apollo 8 adventure of Christmas Eve 1968. Widely respected in NASA and government circles, he was selected to lead the investigation of the Apollo fire which killed his comrades Grissom, White, and Chafee. He was, in every respect, an upright military man who embraced the challenge of the space race with dogged tenacity.
So why, with every page, does the reader feel like he is moving inexorably toward a train wreck? Perhaps because Borman's candor compels him to chronicle the downside of his single-minded determination and doggedness. It is hard to say if the author intended to give us this psychological two-edged sword, or whether it is simply the fruit of honesty. In either case the clues are there: with every career choice, with every renewed commitment to NASA, Borman etched his name on the honor roll of American space heroes. And, in the process, insulated himself from family and society, with painful consequences.
Borman's personal world begins to unravel, ironically, at the time of his greatest triumph, the Apollo 8 mission to the moon. His wife Susan, already stretched thin by years as a dutiful military wife in the spotlight and totally unnerved by the Apollo 1 fire, drifted into the murky world of alcoholism.
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Format: Hardcover
No nonsense Frank Borman has written a fantastic book on his two lives as an astronaut and President of Eastern Airlines. In this book, Mr. Borman goes into great depth explaining his Gemini 7 and the Apollo 8 mission which many regard as the greatest flight of Apollo. Those two flights would be accomplishments that would satisfy most people, but it was only the beginning for Frank Borman. Mr. Borman reveals the same intensity and tenacity at Eastern Airlines that endeared him with NASA officials such as Bob Gilruth, Deke Slayton and Chris Kraft. Frank Borman has lived a life of achievment that most people can only dream about. The book reveals Mr. Borman to be a man of solid character and true dedication to his family and country. Afterall, Mr. Borman could have been the first to walk on the moon, but retired from NASA after Apollo 8 to spend more time with a family that had become secondary to his astronaut duties. By the time the book is finished, the reader wishes that America had more people like Frank Borman. Frank Borman has been accused of being a tightly wound and no nonsense individual. If the book is any indicator, Mr. Borman is a man with a great sense of humor. Like the other reviewers, I loved this book. It is out of print now, but if you can get your hands on it, read it. It is a prized book in my library that I have read many times over. If anyone has an interest in Apollo or Gemini, this is a book that you will need. Thank you Mr. Borman. I don't know you and probably never will, but I really admire you for what you have done. A great book!
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Format: Hardcover
One reason I picked up Countdown at Half-Price Books was because I remember Frank Borman doing commercials for Eastern Airlines when I was a kid. Although I expected more of his book to be about the Apollo days, I was by no means disappointed. This book is actually three books: One about Borman at West Point, the other about Borman in the Air Force, and the one about Borman at Eastern Airlines. The one I liked the best was about Eastern Airlines.
Like Frank Borman, I am an engineer myself (I grew up on NASA's back gate) and I really enjoyed his "tell it like it is" and get "back to basics approach" at Eastern. When Borman became President of Eastern in 1975, he got rid of the private jets, the fancy cars, the plush office furniture, and said "get to work." He also streamlined the middle-management and got rid of the "deadwood" and implemented a lot more "common sense." He thought Eastern buying SST's would be ludricrous on the Miami to New York route (because they would have to begin descent too soon), got rid of planes that were fuel inefficient (especially after looking at maintenance logs and finding that repairs were costing three times of what new planes were), and I don't know of any corporate president that had enough class to negiotiate leasing four Airbus aircraft at no cost. Leasing Airbuses was an awesome and risky move that paid off. Several airlines today use Airbus (Northwest, USAir, United) and Borman helped pave the way for America to buy these. Being a pilot and an engineer, Borman would even fly some of these planes himself. These are three examples of why engineers today are needed in higher management positions.
Borman also made the people of Eastern unite after he became President.
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