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Gus Grissom: The Lost Astronaut (Indiana Biography Series) Hardcover – September, 2004
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More About the Author
A native of Mishawaka, Indiana, Boomhower graduated from Indiana University in 1982 with degrees in journalism and political science. He received his master's degree in U.S. history from Indiana University, Indianapolis, in 1995. Before joining the Society staff, he worked in public relations for the Indiana State Museum and as a reporter for two Indiana daily newspapers, the Rensselaer Republican and the Anderson Herald.
In 1999 Boomhower received the Hoosier Historian award from the Indiana Historical Society. His book on Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Democratic presidential primary won the 2009 Best Books of Indiana competition in the nonfiction category sponsored by the Indiana Center for the Book, and his other works have been finalists in the annual Benjamin Franklin Awards from the Independent Book Publishers Association. In 2010 he was named as the winner of the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award in the regional category.
Top Customer Reviews
I have to remind myself over and over that it is nearly fifty years ago since Grissom and six other career military fighter pilots were selected by the fledgling NASA for Project Mercury, the United States' program to put a single astronaut in earth orbit. Many Americans have little or no idea of who this man was, let alone the success and controversy that swirled around his life and into the literature of nearly every retired astronaut's autobiography. If he is remembered by today's younger generations, it may be as a dim reference to "the fire" of 1967, in which Grissom and two other astronauts were killed during rehearsal for the maiden Project Apollo flight.
Author Ray E. Boomhower presents Grissom's life in a rather factual way. The reader does not get unduly bogged down in technology, the Cold War, or in the jocular astronaut life, aside from a few Wally Schirra stories. There is insightful and tasteful observation from Grissom's family and friends in Indiana, including Mrs. Betty Grissom. By rooting this work in Grissom's native community, the author conveys a sense that the hometown boy from the Midwest went off to school, war, and outer space, bringing pride to the folks back home. Boomhower has given us the story of Grissom's life, not Grissom's programs; Neal Thompson's recent biography of Alan B. Shepard has many of the same characteristics.Read more ›
The biography is thorough, and as far as I can tell generally quite accurate, although there is little to cross-reference it against. I found the story well written, but occasionally the pace bogged down, particularly in the sections dealing with early military service.
One thing I liked about the book is that it didn't focus exclusively on the space program or Apollo 1, but rather treated them in context with the rest of Grissom's life. I was pleased that the Gemini 3 mission was so thoroughly covered, and enjoyed learning about the interactions with the other astronauts, especially John Young and Wally Schirra. The book met the issue of the blown Mercury hatch head on, and by the end of the book it became clear that Grissom was not at fault for the incident.
The book fills a needed void in the history of space literature, and I am generally quite pleased with it. I give it four stars overall: I am glad we finally have a biography of Grissom, a true American hero.
If, however, you are knowledgeable about this era the book adds little insight into Gus Grissom that hasn't already been published. The best source for this insight, Betty Grissom, was interviewed for this book but it appears nothing new was brought to light. With that said, I understand and respect her right to keep certain aspects of his life private. BTW: Her book "Starfall" was outstanding - I learned much more about Gus Grissom from that than any other source. It's a shame it's out of print.
Regardless, I bought it, it's now in my collection and am glad that I did.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was drawn to this book in part because I was a huge fan of the Gemini and Apollo programs in my youth. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Scott Blake
my favorite astronaut and absolutely should have been the first man on the moon.Published 5 months ago by Alan C.
Great piece of work by author Boomhower. Some biographies can by dry, but Boomhower's prose is filled with details, well researched, and easily accessible. Recommended.Published 5 months ago by indygadgetguy
Love Gus, I never got to meet him ,but I did meet some of the others ,can't wait to be able to start reading about GusPublished 17 months ago by Patricia Ann Saporito-Murdock
A very engaging life story of one of America's greatest early space heroes who died in the Apollo 1 fire in 1967. Read morePublished on November 13, 2013 by Dr. Morbius