At a time when overwritten biographies arguably provide too much information about their subjects, astronaut-turned-politician-turned-astronaut John Glenn's breezy memoir is welcome. His life story is simply told, not terribly reflective but enormously compelling: an Ohio boy grows up to become the first American to orbit the earth, takes a shot at the presidency but misses, and triumphantly returns to outer space as a senior citizen and national hero. Following a section on his youth, Glenn describes being a fighter pilot in the Second World War and Korea (where he lived in the same Quonset hut as baseball legend Ted Williams), as well as a test pilot. The highlight of the book is Project Mercury, the early NASA effort that hurled Glenn 150 miles above the planet in a tiny capsule--"flying from one day into the next and back again." In less than five hours, Glenn observed three sunsets and sunrises. He also conducted a few basic experiments, such as "squeezing some applesauce from a toothpaste-like tube into my mouth to see if weightlessness interfered with swallowing. It didn't."
Upon his return to earth, Glenn made a few abortive runs for the Senate. He was finally elected in 1974 as a Democrat and served for 24 years. In 1984, he sought his party's presidential nomination, and it looked like he was the one candidate potentially capable of beating President Reagan. But he stumbled and had to quit. The final pages detail Glenn's 1998 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery at the age of 77. Just as his journeys riveted the nation, Glenn's memoir will grip its readers. --John J. Miller
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Could there be a more iconic American life than that of astronaut-turned-senator Glenn? The author's reading voice measured, plainspoken, imbued with honest conviction reinforces this sense of salt-of-the-earth patriotism. First, the listener hears of Glenn's halcyon Ohio childhood, how he married his childhood sweetheart and went off to fly for the navy in the World War II. It is only here, with Glenn's intricate technical descriptions of aircraft and heartfelt observations on the beauty of flight, that he comes across as really comfortable with himself. He goes on to tell of his hero days, first as a postwar test pilot, then as a solo astronaut in his famed Mercury capsule, "Friendship Seven." Though he has the grace of modesty in his descriptions, a genuine sense of the exhilaration of these times translates effectively. By contrast, Glenn's summation of his subsequent political career is admirable but unsurprising. It's only when he returns to space aboard a shuttle flight at age 77, and exuberantly radios to earth, "Zero-G, and I feel fine," that a feeling of his true spark returns. Based on the 1999 BDD hardcover. (Nov.)
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