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Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon Paperback – June 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; 1 Reprint edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030746346X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307463463
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Picking up the threads of his acclaimed 1973 autobiography, Return to Earth, Aldrin presents as no-holds-barred account of how his celebrity, career and human weaknesses nearly destroyed his life. On July 19, 1968, millions witnessed Neil Armstrong and Aldrin become the first two people on the moon; an instant American hero, Aldrin was "greeted with ticker-tape parades" and spent the next two years, along with his fellow astronauts, as public relations assets for NASA and the Nixon administration. With a PhD from MIT, Aldrin had not only spent eight years training for the mission, but also helped developed technology needed for the mission; upon returning home from his world tour as an "unofficial space ambassador," however, he found the doors at NASA "pretty much closed"; the moon-landing program had given way to the shuttle project. That homecoming would catapult Aldrin into a decades-long struggle with alcoholism and clinical depression (both his grandfather and mother committed suicide) that broke up two marriages before psychiatric treatment and rehab put him on the road to recovery. This inspiring story exhibits Aldrin as a different, perfectly human kind of hero, giving readers a sympathetic look at a man eclipsed by his own legend.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Buzz Aldrin relives the Magnificent Desolation of space, and the soul-sucking depression that awaited back home."
Vanity Fair, “Hot Type”

"An admirable account of an icon of the golden age of space flight."
Kirkus Reviews

“Space fans, in particular, will cheer.”
Booklist

“Aldrin presents a no-holds-barred account of how his celebrity, career and human weaknesses nearly destroyed his life….This inspiring story exhibits Aldrin as a different, perfectly human kind of hero, giving readers a sympathetic look at a man eclipsed by his own legend.”
Publishers Weekly

“Buzz Aldrin relives the Magnificent Desolation of space, and the soul-sucking depression that awaited back home."
Vanity Fair, “Hot Type”

“Riveting reading.”
The Economist

“Leads the field of new releases.The candid portrayal of his earthly battles—often written with great humor—make this a cut above the rest….Great holiday reading.”
New Scientist

“Captivating….an engaging first-hand account by one of history’s most important explorers.”
Alive East Bay


From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

I'm a fan of space history, and this book was a very interesting read.
BlueDiamond66
If you are healthy enough to do that, I don't see how he could have been medically depressed.
quoter
It made me wonder just how much input Aldrin really had in the writing of this book.
Delta Sigma

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Delta Sigma on July 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Having worked on Apollo at Kennedy, I am always eager to read the latest books about space history. While I realize that the bulk of this book has to do with Aldrin's problems he endured (and overcame) after the mission, I was quite surprised at the number and magnitude of the technical errors I noticed regarding the mission. It made me wonder just how much input Aldrin really had in the writing of this book. Surely he knows better.

A few examples: the book states that Alan Shepard's Freedom 7 reached an altitude of 62 miles (it went up 116 miles). The book repeatedly refers to multiple engines on the LM descent and ascent stages as well as on the Service Module; each of the 3 only had one engine. The book refers to the "dark side" of the moon; (there is no "dark" side, only a "far" or "back" side). Even the text on the LM commemoration plaque is misquoted. There are many more.

There is a photo whose caption states it is taken after Aldrin's Gemini 12 EVA. If this is true, who took it from outside the spacecraft? It is actually a photo (JSC image S66-59907) taken prior to liftoff. (The visor protective cover is still in place.)

All in all, I still enjoyed the book, but I am always suspect about the rest of the book when I am able to find so many errors in the parts I am familiar with. But these errors in no way detract from my admiration of the man.

UPDATE: Aldrin's secretary contacted me to discuss the errors I noticed and requested a copy of my list; hopefully they will make it into the next printing.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Erik Nielsen on December 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big fan of Buzz Aldrin and the space program in general, but I was disappointed by this book. The first part about the moon landing was interesting, and there were some interesting tidbits about how he felt during the whole thing.

The second part about his struggles back on Earth, and the end of his first marriage, are also interesting, although somewhat flat. That period of his life had to be deeply emotional for him, yet he relays the story as if he was reading the weather report. Mr. Aldrin is clearly an emotionally reserved man, which makes the fact that he even attempted this book something of an accomplishment. The story is interesting as far as it goes, but lacks any real depth.

The third part of the book, about his current wife Lois and his current jet-setting lifestyle, is the most disappointing. Buzz spends pages at a time essentially telling us about all of the celebrities he is close personal friends with, and how wonderful Lois is. However, he continues to break the cardinal rule of storytelling, in that he constantly tells us without really showing us. He keeps saying Lois is great, but never really gives us any real window into their lives together except to describe her apparent role as his business manager. His laundry list of celebrity acquaintances quickly becomes tedious, and comes across as bragging more than anything else. Buzz is an American hero in his own right, and it's puzzling why he feels the need to name drop to such a degree.

I think no less of Mr. Aldrin for attempting this book, but in the final analysis, it's so much less than it could have been.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Fuzzy Lizard on November 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book starts out with the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 and takes it from there. You read about how Mr. Aldrin dealt with depression and alcoholism in the years after the historic moon landing. The book is very interesting until about the halfway mark. Then it seems to be all about his wife, Lois and Mr. Aldrin just briefly touching on stuff he's doing(skiing, working on his Mars Cycler, making appearances in t.v. shows, etc.) The book kind of lost me there. It seemed to drag and I found myself skimming just to get to anything interesting and to finish the book.
"Magnificent Desolation" tells the reader nothing of Mr. Aldrin's growing up years and does not go into detail about him being a fighter pilot or how the selection process to him becoming an astronaut went down. I guess that is all covered in Mr. Aldrin's first book, "Return to Earth".
Overall, an ok read.
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Format: Hardcover
On July 20, 1969 man first walked on the moon. The second man who walked on the moon that day was the author Buzz Aldrin. The title of this book came from Buzz's description of what he saw on the moon. It also aptly describes what his life became when he returned to earth. In a perfect definition of the phrase... "BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!"... Buzz did not enjoy the adulation and hero worship which necessitated appearances and speeches in front of large crowds throughout the world. His life evolved into deep depression and uncontrollable alcoholism. There were times he wouldn't get out of bed for days. The author tends to call these periods his "BLUE FUNK. His mental and alcohol problems in the face of worldwide acclaim sounded eerily similar to that of Ira Hayes one of the five Marines who raised the American Flag at Iwo Jima. Luckily Buzz has now been sober for thirty years.

The first few chapters of the book lead the reader from Aldrin getting ready to board the Apollo 11 craft for the historic trip to the moon... the actual landing and "moon-walk"... and their return to earth. The insights shared with the reader are exhilarating and reinforce what an absolute marvel space flight is. "THE LIFTOFF FROM THE MOON WAS INTRINSICALLY A TENSE TIME FOR ALL OF US. THE ASCENT STAGE SIMPLY HAD TO WORK. THE ENGINES HAD TO FIRE, PROPELLING US UPWARD, LEAVING THE DESCENT STAGE OF THE LM STILL SITTING ON THE MOON. WE HAD NO MARGIN FOR ERROR, NO SECOND CHANCES, NO RESCUE PLANS IF THE LIFTOFF FAILED. THERE WOULD BE NO WAY FOR MIKE UP IN COLUMBIA TO RETRIEVE US. WE HAD NO PROVISION FOR ANOTHER TEAM TO RACE FROM EARTH TO PICK US UP IF THE EAGLE DID NOT SOAR. NOR DID WE HAVE FOOD, WATER, OR OXYGEN FOR MORE THAN A FEW HOURS."

Upon his return to earth... between meeting Presidents... Kings...
Read more ›
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