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Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History Hardcover – July 12, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2011: In this true story of love and adventure, nothing can stop Thad Roberts from keeping a promise to his girlfriend Rebecca--not even NASA security. When he's in the lab, Roberts is a brilliant NASA co-op intern, but the other interns know him better for devising thrill-seeking activities, like cliff diving and sneaking into the shuttle simulator. When he realizes that scientists consider moon rocks worthless once they’ve been in experiments, Roberts starts to wonder… if they’re worthless, how could stealing them be wrong? Ben Mezrich, author of The Accidental Billionaires (which inspired the movie The Social Network), starts each section with excerpts of Roberts’s love letters to Rebecca from prison, providing a love-drunk context for Roberts’ journey as the moon rock heist balloons from idle fantasy to stark reality. Behind-the-scenes looks at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and thriller-like action that ranges from the U.S. to Belgium make for an enthralling read for anyone who ever dreamed about being an astronaut--or promised to give someone else the moon. --Malissa Kent

Review

"[M]ovie-worthy treatment to the guy who stole moon rocks from NASA"--The New York Daily News

"[An] in-depth look at Thad Roberts, who along with three other NASA interns, stole pieces of lunar rock to impress his girlfriend. Mezrich has done extensive research to recreate the story of how an aspiring astronaut ended up getting caught for stealing over 100 pieces of the moon."--The Atlantic Monthly

"[Mezrich is] a genius at using characters and dialogue....to turn nonfiction into something as compelling as any thriller."--The Chronicle Herald

"In Sex on the Moon, author Ben Mezrich details the riveting account of how one of the most improbable heists in history went down....a fast and furious read, powered along by Mezrich’s desire never to take his eyes off the story."
--Chicago Post-Tribune

"[A]n out-of-this-world heist"--USA Today

"Ben Mezrich’s latest straight-to-the-big-screen book....fascinating protagonist.....[Mezrich is] an accomplished storyteller.....a rollicking summertime page-turner crackling with sex, astronauts, stolen dinosaur bones and international cyber-intrigue"--The Miami Herald

"A breathless, credulous style....memorable supporting characters....adventure, sex, romance, a hero who is equal parts Clifford Irving from The Hoax, Frank Abagnale from Catch Me If You Can, and George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life,....entertaining"--The Boston Globe

" [A] thrilling account of space rock heist...fun, breezy action"--Tampa Tribune

"Eloquent prose and a direct view into the characters’ mind...the access to Roberts and re-creation of his motivation and personality are Sex On The Moon’s best qualities."
--The Onion

"[A] fascinating story....has the readability of popular fiction, a ripping story, and great characters....Another winner from an extremely talented writer"--Booklist, starred review

"Mezrich has uncovered another high-stakes, fascinating true story....part love story, part madcap caper, part astro-geekery, the book is one of the summer's most fun reads."--NPR

"Out of this world heist...one of the summer's most buzzed-about books"--CNN.com

"Page-turner....engaging read."--San Antonio Express-News

"Ben Mezrich, the gonzo-inspired biographer of Ivy League geeks.....[brings us a] stranger-than-fiction, true-life thriller of a man who went where no man has gone before....[the] story ticked all the boxes: a charismatic dreamer with a troubled past, a Romeo-and-Juliet love story, a geek-alicious high-tech setting, an ingenious Oceans 11-style heist—and perhaps the most boneheaded mistake any man ever made to impress a girl. Even better, it was a journalist’s Holy Grail: a truly uncovered story."--Book Page

"Deliciously readable"--Baltimore Jewish Times

"Ben Mezrich goes to incredible lengths to bring readers a story that is both accurate and spellbinding, honest and riveting"--Portsmouth Wire

"A pulse-pounding tale"--Patriot Ledger

"This is the incredible story of a crime truly out of this world, told with verve by Mezrich"--News of the World

"Compelling"--Atlanta Jewish Times

"[E]nthusiastically re-creates this oddball 2002 moon-rock heist"--Kirkus Reviews

Praise for The Accidental Billionaires, the basis of the Oscar-winning film The Social Network

“Uproarious . . . stimulating enough to keep even the un-medicated narcoleptic awake.”
Washington Times

“Mezrich’s prose has a cinematic flavor.”
Boston Globe

“You won’t be able to put the book down. The story’s far too compelling, and entirely too personal, to toss aside.”
Oregonian

“High-octane page-turners, replete with sex, skullduggery, and plot twists worthy of James Patterson.”
New York Times

“The book is better; you should read the book.”
—Alex Rodriguez

“You know you’re onto something when Hollywood calls before your book is even out.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Sizzling . . . Mezrich’s pop narrative reveals an American public greedy to read about the most intimate details of the sex, money, and betrayal in Facebook’s formative history . . . energetic.”
Telegraph

“Mezrich paints a story of backstabbing, wild sex, hard drinking, and, at one stage, feasting on roasted koala on a yacht owned by a Silicon Valley millionaire.”
Guardian

See all Editorial Reviews
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (July 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385533926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385533928
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #982,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Mezrich has created his own highly addictive genre of nonfiction, chronicling the amazing stories of young geniuses making tons of money on the edge of impossibility, ethics, and morality.

New York Times bestselling author of Bringing Down the House and The Accidental Billionaires tells his most incredible story yet: A true drama of obscene wealth, crime, rivalry, and betrayal from deep inside the world of billionaire Russian Oligarchs.

Meet two larger-than-life Russians: Boris Berezovsky, a former mathematician who got his start in a car-reselling business, moved into other more lucrative ventures as well as politics, and became known as the Godfather of the Kremlin. And Roman Abramovich, a dashing young entrepreneur who went from trading in plastic children's toys to building a multibillion- dollar empire of oil and aluminum.

After a chance meeting on a yacht in the Caribbean, these two men became locked in a complex partnership that would irrevocably change their lives. They surfed the waves of privatization after the fall of the Soviet regime, amassing megafortunes while also taking the reins of power in Russia. With Berezovsky serving as the younger entrepreneur's krysha-literally, his roof, his protector-they battled their way through the ''Wild East''of Russia.

A true-life thriller, this story reveals how Abramovich built one of Russia's largest oil companies from the ground up as Berezovsky's protégé-until their relationship soured after Berezovsky attacked President Vladimir Putin in the media. Dead bodies trailed Berezovsky's footsteps before and after his escape to London, where an associate of his died painfully of Polonium poisoning, creating an international furor. And as Abramovich continued to prosper, Berezovsky was found dead in a luxurious London town house, declared a suicide.

With unprecedented, exclusive first-person sourcing, Mezrich takes us inside a world of unimaginable wealth, power, and corruption to uncover the true story of Berezovsky and Abramovich, in one of the great epics of our time. Once Upon A Time in Russia will be brought to the silver screen by Warners Studio.

Mezrich has authored sixteen books, with a combined printing of over four million copies, including the wildly successful Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions, which spent sixty-three weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and sold over 2 million copies in fifteen languages. His book, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal - debuted at #4 on the New York Times list and spent 18 weeks in hardcover and paperback, as well as hit bestseller lists in over a dozen countries. The book was adapted into the movie The Social Network -written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher - and was #1 at the box office for two weeks, won Golden Globes for best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, best score, and was nominated for 8 Oscars, winning 3 including best Adapted Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin. Mezrich and Aaron Sorkin shared a prestigious Scripter Award for best adapted screenplay as well.

In addition to these prestigious awards, Mezrich currently has multiple movies and TV shows in production based on his books. Newline Studios is producing The 37th Parallel, Fox Studios is close to green lighting Seven Wonders, and FX and WBTV are producing the Ugly Americans TV Show.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

129 of 142 people found the following review helpful By Gary Schroeder on July 28, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a manuscript for a movie. In recent interviews Ben Mezrich has been very open about that. He writes books from the very beginning in the hopes that they will be optioned for movies. And it shows.

Mezrich, author of "The Accidental Billionaires," the book upon which the Facebook movie "The Social Network" was based, went in search of his next great true-story thriller. What he settled on was the tale of Thad Roberts, a student enrolled in NASA's Cooperative Education Program who turned thief and decided to steal moon rocks and sell them online for easy cash. The story behind "Sex on the Moon" (itself an awful title) is hyberbolically subtitled "the Most Audacious Heist in History." Roberts' theft is by no means entitled to such an exciting description. The heist itself was fairly uncomplicated and involved nothing more than a clever use of chemical dust to break an electronic combination lock and some elbow grease to drag a safe out of a room and into a car. The only thing remotely remarkable about the theft is that actual moon rocks are involved. Had Roberts stolen terrestrial gem stones, he would have warranted nothing more than a mention in the local news paper police blotter. Mezrich has to work hard -- very hard -- to fill this thin conceit with enough volume to fill a book.

And then there's the writing. Which is awful. This is some of the most hackneyed, rigid, trite prose I've ever read. Some examples: "she had given him her number. It had been like rocket fuel in his bathing-suit all the way home" or "sooner or later, the truth would be as clear as the tattoo on her thigh" or "Thad only knew for sure what he was feeling. Which was beyond anything he could remember feeling before" or "suddenly, reality hit him like a Saturn V rocket to the face." Ugh.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Michele Kingery on November 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
And Thad Roberts really needed one. He is one of those poor slobs for whom the magnetic pull of self-destruction is as irresistible as a Siren's song. (Darwin would have had a field day with that.). At least Odysseus had the smarts to order his sailors to lash him to the mast and stuff wax in their ears. Roberts wasn't nearly as prudent, though he was certainly smart.

Booted from the family fold for the unforgivable sin of engaging in pre-marital sex, Roberts claws his way up from the depths of despair to earn a prestigious internship at NASA only to blow it trying to pull off one of the most cockamamie scams in modern history; stealing moon rocks.

Really?

That Roberts even got to NASA in the first place was something of a miracle. How a broke, disenfranchised kid managed to rack up the pre-recs for a shot at the big time is one question I still had at the end of the book. Roberts takes courses in physics, geology, anthropology, Russian and Japanese. He obtains a pilot's license. He learns to scuba dive. He completes a charity bike ride for cystic fibrosis and raises $10,000. That accomplishment seems to be what cinches his entry into the Johnson Space Center at Houston, where he spends three semesters glad-handing his fellow interns and trolling in and out of various labs and simulators with the James Bond theme song playing in his head.

Ego issues? Possibly.

Roberts also has a wife back in Utah. Something he doesn't hide, but doesn't exactly advertise. It wouldn't mesh with the ultra-cool, geek-meets-Mission Impossible persona he's created, the same persona that attempts a ridiculous, bumbling moon rock heist that ultimately does earn him a dope slap from the universe in the form of an eight year prison sentence.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By C. Callahan on August 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
An inside look at NASA, stolen moon rocks, an international team working to recover the goods, sex, interns, prison....how did this story turn out to be boring? Whatever the reason, boring is how it turned out.

Maybe there just wasn't enough material to fill a book about this case. Plus, in spite of his desire to make himself into a larger-than-life character, Thad really isn't one. Instead he's more of a pathetic loser who throws away everything he worked for and disappoints so many people in an attempt to re-make himself.

Dull, slow, only occasionally interesting, and the only characters you really care for get treated badly.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on August 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This latest Mezrich book is a 308-page 'con-job' - the entire story can be, and should have been, told in one paragraph. Thad Roberts is an aspiring NASA astronaut with weak ethics. While at the University of Utah UofU) he steals some rocks, then gets accepted as a student researcher at NASA's Johnson Space Center where his marriage falls apart, he becomes enamored with two new lovelies and gets them to help him steal a 600+ lb. safe containing moon rocks being studied by his mentor, Dr. Robert Gibson. Predictably he's caught trying to sell the loot, loses his girlfriends (they're sentenced to probation), he does 8 1/2 years, and then receives a cool reception from the UofU upon asking to return and complete his studies.

The outcome is as predictable as tomorrow's sunrise, given that NASA is the only legitimate source of moon rocks and NASA doesn't sell or give them away. The outcome is even more predictable when Thad tries drumming up interest in his ill-gotten loot by emailing a reputable rock collector in Belgium who promptly notifies the FBI. All the rocks are recovered, though Roberts' mentor loses some 30 years of research notes. Dr. Gibson emerges as the second of the story's two 'stars,' showing his and NASA's gratitude for the Belgian rock collector's assistance by traveling to one of their club meetings and giving an expert presentation on moon rocks.

Final Score: Mezrich - 0, Roberts - 0, Dr. Gibson + 1, and the Belgian rock collector + 1.
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