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For Spacious Skies: The Uncommon Journey Of A Mercury Astronaut Paperback – January 6, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

M. Scott Carpenter was America's fourth man in space, his 1962 three-orbit mission in a tiny Mercury capsule closely paralleling that of John Glenn's previous mission. But that's where the similarities end: a malfunctioning navigational system caused Carpenter to splash down, dangerously, some 250 miles off-target, and Glenn's fame would somehow forever eclipse that of all seven of his fellow original astronauts combined. This memoir, penned in conjunction with Carpenter's daughter Kris, oddly distances itself from Carpenter's life through use of a third-person narrative (only the astronaut's calm account of his perilous mission is delivered directly in his voice), a device that ultimately echoes the more personal distances Carpenter endured in his own fateful, if troubled, journey toward the stars.

While Carpenter may have been able to trace his lineage back to the Plymouth colony of the 1630s, his immediate family seemed shattered. His research-chemist father was successful but absent, his mother often a bedridden invalid. Carpenter's journey to the Mercury program after a Rocky Mountain childhood and a stint on lumbering Naval patrol planes is one of the more unlikely of the original astronaut class, and he offers up his own perspectives on what has become a compelling body of American folklore (thanks largely to Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff and the memoirs of other participants). While the account of NASA's infancy seems quaint, its officialdom often comes off as nothing short of cutthroat, perhaps inspiring the pioneering spaceman to the book's final adventures exploring a distinctly different frontier--the bottom of the ocean--as part of the Navy's endurance-minded SeaLab program. --Jerry McCulley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Amid a flurry of recent accounts of the early days of the U.S. space program, astronaut Carpenter and Stoever, his daughter, weigh in with a biography (most of it written jarringly in the third person) of the fourth American in space. While a good deal of factual information about Carpenter's life is presented, there is very little probing beneath the surface. Perhaps the most controversial material is Carpenter's discussion of the specifics of his three-orbit flight on May 24, 1962, which ended with the American public not knowing for hours whether Carpenter and his Mercury capsule Aurora 7 had survived re-entry. His take is very different from that offered last year by Chris Kraft (Flight: My Life in Mission Control). While the former mission controller claims that Carpenter "malfunctioned," Carpenter argues that he fulfilled his tasks admirably despite a series of mechanical failures on board the capsule. The third person voice is lively if not compelling, and though there is not very much new information about the early days of NASA here, one can get a flavor of the times and a sense of the people responsible for bringing America into the space age. Pictures not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade (January 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451211057
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451211057
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,814,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By R. Glueck on January 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Scott Carpenter's autobiography, written with his daughter, Kris Stoever, is the last, long awaited testament from the Mercury astronauts. Along with Deke Slayton's and Mike Cassutt's "Deke!", it is possibly the most informative of these rememberances. The book is more accurately detailed than "Schirra's Space", better grounded in facts than Shepard's "Moon Shot", more interactive than John Glenn's memoir, and ...uh...let's say, far surpasses Cooper's "Keeping Faith".
Carpenter's book is footnoted throughout, and the authors have made many references to other credible manuscripts to support their recollections of the time. Personal recollections from Gene Kranz are referenced at least once, and both John Glenn and Wally Schirra proofread the manuscript prior to publication.
Scott Carpenter's life has been overall, a great experience tinged with personal losses. His parents lived apart, his mother suffered from t.b., his father's approval always needed to be earned. Marriage's have brought the promise of secure relationships, but have not lasted over time. One senses the deepest loss in his relationship with Rene, who documented much of his personal history and the contemporary truths of the Mercury years. The overall sense is that two sharply intellectual adults somehow outgrew each other, when they still complimented the other so well. Rene's journals, it is revealed, provided Tom Wolfe with a great deal of his impressions for "The Right Stuff", some of which was re-written as "the wrong stuff" according to Carpenter and Stoever.
Of course, the real meat of the book is Scott's recollection of the mission of "Aurora 7", and the keen disappointment in having to displace Deke Slayton in what should have been his moment of glory.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Colin Burgess on December 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
My interest in manned spacecraft was first piqued by the much-delayed Mercury flight of John Glenn, and I followed the subsequent 1962 mission of Scott Carpenter aboard his Aurora 7 spacecraft with even greater enthusiasm. As the decades passed and other Mercury astronauts wrote their autobiographies, I began to wonder if Scott Carpenter was ever going to tell his story, which I have always found to be far more exciting and multi-dimensional than those told by most of his colleagues. I was certainly not disappointed. "For Spacious Skies" is a truly wonderful and well written book, and gives an enjoyable background to a man about whom there has often been much speculation and interest - particularly in recent years when a certain NASA flight controller decided to vent his spleen on Carpenter and his Mercury mission in his own memoirs. This book is, in part, an obvious response to this criticism, and certainly clears the decks in many ways. Better written and far more readable than most of the other Mercury Seven astronaut biographies, this is a touching and often dramatic account of the life of a man who is regarded as one of the true pioneers and adventurers of spaceflight. Dealt many poor hands in life, he nevertheless seized his opportunities when they came along, and his resolve comes through loud and clear in this book. While many space enthusiasts and historians know that Scott Carpenter's story will, sadly, never be free of the controversies that attend his life and his single Mercury orbital mission, his flight should nevertheless be remembered as a very important and major contribution to the state of spaceflight knowledge in those early days, when brave men rode rockets that had a worrying reputation for blowing up.Read more ›
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Eric B. Smith on August 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Scott Carpenter has the worst reputation of the Mercury Seven. Chris Kraft's book "Flight" dedicates a complete chapter to attacking Carpenter. Using numerous footnotes, the book references many NASA reports which cite a mechanical failure which nearly doomed his mission.
The book seems to be a family history written by Carpenter's daughter, Kris Stoever. Thus, the reader must adjust to reading about Carpenter in the third person. Carpenter does take over in the chapters about his flight, writing in the first person. Adding to the difficulty reading the book, the writers assume that the reader can keep track of the year different events happened. However, the story is not chronilogical, so one must guess at the year when signifigant events (child birth, transfer to a new Navy base) occur. Too bad this book did not do a better job of completing the timeline for the reader. Particularly surprising his how Carpenter's last three marriages are summarized in a 6-line paragraph on the second to last page.
I recommend reading this book if you want to hear Carpenter's view of his flight. But be prepared to for a bumpy ride, as the book is not pulled together into the consistent story one would expect.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Dave English VINE VOICE on May 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love reading about flying in space. And this book by a real hero is good. But not great. It is mostly written by his daughter, in the third person. You don't get that 'up close' feel. You get slighty dry text. I did learn about an amazing time, an amazing journey, but would have liked a little more.

If you love this subject, then this is a must have book. But if are new to reading about the early space program, there are better books to start with. Follow some of the links, search a little, and then come back and get this book if you are hooked.
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