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Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon Hardcover – June 25, 2009
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"The Black Presidency"
Rated by Vanity Fair as one of our most lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today, this book is a provocative and lively look into the meaning of America's first black presidency. Learn more
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More About the Author
His writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, Salon, The New England Review, Reader's Digest, The New York Observer, Popular Science, and a host of other publications; he has been profiled in Variety, Interview, Publishers Weekly, and Time Out.
Besides working at a zoo, in Hollywood, and being an Eagle Scout and a Fuller Brush Man, he was a vice president and executive editor of Harper & Row, Hyperion, and Random House, where he oversaw the publishing of twenty New York Times' bestsellers.
He lives in Greenwich Village.
photo: Helvio Faria
Top Customer Reviews
There are some good things about this book. It is an entertaining read. It provides context to events that is helpful. It also includes stories I hadn't heard before, which is refreshing. The problem is the book is full of errors, some showing a basic lack of understanding of the subject matter. It gets so bad I'm left wondering what in the book I can actually trust.
If you are new to the subject and want a good book to read, I recommend either Chris Kraft's or Gene Cernan's books.
I'll give it two stars since it is an enjoyable read.
Here is some errors I can think of off the top of my head. (I didn't want to put them in my main review.) It's not a complete list:
* Stating Gene Cernan was commander of Apollo 15, instead of 17
* A completely wrong description of what Max-Q is
* Confusing escape velocity and orbital speed.
* Calling the landing radar PGNS (which makes sense, since it is pronounced PINGS, but wrong)
* Stating that Armstrong used the Abort Guidance System to land, since he had to maneuver around some boulders. It wasn't.
That's just a few, and you may ask what the big deal with them is. The problem is that they are so pervasive it destroys the credibility of the author.
That begs the question: What basis does this sloppy approach give me for believing that anything else, including the non-technical, presented in this work as fact is accurately portrayed?
I agree that there are engaging passages, and sometimes an interesting and unusual slant on events, but if you want an engaging, ACCURATE account of Apollo 11, read Mike Collin's "Carrying the Fire" (he really is the most literate of the moon voyagers, and the most dryly humorous) , or for the project as a whole through the eyes of the astronauts, Andrew Chaikin's superb "A Man on the Moon". "Rocket Men" is for me an interesting approach that needs a major overhaul to become a decent book.
I can only say that after reading the other Amazon reviews here and doing a little thumbing through this book, my preliminary assessment is this author doesn't really know a damned thing about his subject.
One only has to read his account on page 194 of the first Saturn V launch (Apollo 4)to understand the absolute cluelessness that this author has for his subject.
And I quote: "Two F-1 rockets abruptly quit during liftoff, at which the stack pulled a U-turn and headed screaming back at the ground. But the guidance system righted the vehicle..."
The next sentence goes on to describe the equally "trouble-filled" Apollo 5 launch in which two engines on the three stage vehicle died.
There is so much wrong concentrated into these two sentences it's hard to know where to start to untangle the mess and inaccuracy the author packs in here:
1) The first Saturn V launch was virtually flawless. Two of its F-1 engines did NOT quit (no F-1 engine ever failed in any Saturn V launch--65 engines launched, 65 flawless performances over thirteen Saturn V launches).
2) No Saturn V could have made a "U-turn" in flight and come screaming back at the ground. If it had, the vehicle would have broken up under the aerodynamic stresses of doing a loop-de-loop.
3) Apollo 5 was also a perfect launch--it was a two stage Saturn 1B launch that placed an unmanned LEM into low earth orbit for testing. It was not, as the author states, a three stage vehcle, on which "two of its engines died...which would have carried the craft to the moon."
Apollo 5 was intended to test he LEM in low earth orbit, not the moon, and it did so as planned.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Having lived through this time period myself, I can say that the book captures the spirit of that era perfectly.Published 1 month ago by Scott Mathews
I'm listening to audio book version of this. I too notice glaring errors just at the beginning: Gene Cernan is said to be on Apollo 14 rather than 17. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Video Connoisseur
Very informative. Get the back story of the space race. Things most folks never knew.Published 6 months ago by Sheldon
I lived through this and growing up I found it fascinating interesting and factualPublished 8 months ago by Thomas J Schauer
The author is focused strongly on the Apollo 11 mission and is forced to rush through other important Gemini missions to keep the narrative flowing. Read morePublished 13 months ago by LFD
This book took me back to when I was 8 years old watching the lunar landing in awe. It also reminded me of what it takes to do great things in a great country. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Leland T White
The book was my husbands. He loved it and wants to read it all over again.
It is difficult for me to expand on it not having read it myself, but I know how much
He... Read more