From Library Journal
Shepard and the late Slayton, two of the original Mercury astronauts, here team up with two veteran space reporters to produce a firsthand account of the space program's early days. The narrative is at its best when it focuses on the astronauts' flight experiences-Shepard's brief Mercury flight, his lunar landing mission ten years later, and Slayton's long-delayed trip into space aboard the last Apollo mission in 1975. On the down side, its use of re-created conversations that pass as exposition weaken the narrative, making it sound more like a screenplay prospectus than a space history. For example, it is doubtful that John Glenn had to explain to his fellow astronauts what the Saturn launch vehicle was. One comes away wishing for more insight into what it was like to walk on the moon and less about the astronauts' pranks and peccadillos. Still, with the book's publication timed to coincide with this July's 25th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing, this title may see some demand.
--Thomas Frieling, Bainbridge Coll., Ga.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
It's hard to believe, but most teens and people in their early twenties don't remember Americans walking on the moon. This book, written lovingly by two of the most respected astronauts in U.S. history, will remedy that. Journalists Jay Barbree and Howard Benedict organized the material, and they portray Shepard and Slayton as two close friends who shared the dream of many children of the 1960s: to fly in outer space. Sadly, Shepard, after becoming the first American in space in a mere hour's trip, developed inner ear problems that prevented him from going back, and Slayton's irregular heartbeat kept him from going at all. Meanwhile, President Kennedy escalated the space race to get a leg up on the Russians. Despite covering some of the same ground as Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff, Shepard and Slayton vividly portray the great bond uniting the original Mercury Seven. The most terrifying chapter describes the fire on the launchpad that killed three Apollo 1 astronauts, but problems on many flights (unbeknownst to TV viewers) were only solved by the skill of the astronauts as pilots. Shepard and Slayton are emphatic about environmental issues (having seen the Earth from a unique viewpoint), and Shepard's eventual moon shot is only topped by Slayton's emotional reaction to being cleared to fly the Apollo-Soyuz mission to dock with Russian cosmonauts, with whom he became fast friends. Expect much demand. Joe Collins
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