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Wolfe's roots in New Journalism were intertwined with the nonfiction novel that Truman Capote had pioneered with In Cold Blood. As Capote did, Wolfe tells his story from a limited omniscient perspective, dropping into the lives of his "characters" as each in turn becomes a major player in the space program. After an opening chapter on the terror of being a test pilot's wife, the story cuts back to the late 1940s, when Americans were first attempting to break the sound barrier. Test pilots, we discover, are people who live fast lives with dangerous machines, not all of them airborne. Chuck Yeager was certainly among the fastest, and his determination to push through Mach 1--a feat that some had predicted would cause the destruction of any aircraft--makes him the book's guiding spirit.
Yet soon the focus shifts to the seven initial astronauts. Wolfe traces Alan Shepard's suborbital flight and Gus Grissom's embarrassing panic on the high seas (making the controversial claim that Grissom flooded his Liberty capsule by blowing the escape hatch too soon). The author also produces an admiring portrait of John Glenn's apple-pie heroism and selfless dedication. By the time Wolfe concludes with a return to Yeager and his late-career exploits, the narrative's epic proportions and literary merits are secure. Certainly The Right Stuff is the best, the funniest, and the most vivid book ever written about America's manned space program. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I've probably read over a thousand books - I just earned my MA in History and am a writer - and The Right Stuff, along with the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, are in my top 10. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Jim
This is it...the pinnacle, the best there is.
Even if you sincerely doubt that man ever stepped foot on the Moon (it's basically an impossibility)--this is still writing... Read more
The Right Stuff is the story of 7 men chosen for the Mercury space program and also about the life of Chuck Yeager, a very talented test pilot. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Colton
How did Tom Wolfe get the material for this amazing book? It is like a rocket itself, blasting into the dark blue sky on the incandescent heat of radiant language burning on pure,... Read morePublished 1 month ago by David Marshall
A great inside view of the Mercury program and our first men in space. Tom Wolfe is a delightful, funny and interesting writer.Published 2 months ago by Karen Harbour
I didn't see the movie until many years after it came out. When I did, the intentional mythologizing of history really grabbed me. I just had to read the book. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Henry Brown
The story soars for the first half and then, like a rocket running out of fuel, falls back to earth. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Fletcher
I vaguely remember scenes from the movie as a child. This text provides vivid context to the test-pilot/fighter-jock/astronaut culture in the midst of the Cold War era. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mark H. Gunther