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The Unbroken Chain: Apogee Books Space Series 20 Hardcover – October 1, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-1896522845 ISBN-10: 189652284X Edition: Har/Cdr

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Product Details

  • Series: Apogee Books Space Series
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Collector's Guide Publishing, Inc.; Har/Cdr edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 189652284X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1896522845
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #662,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

American astronauts may have lived the dream of seeing space, but they never would have made it without Guenter Wendt. In The Unbroken Chain, this unsung hero tells his story, and he's got the right stuff. Wendt, who immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1949, got a job as a mechanical engineer for McDonnell Aircraft that launched his space career. He eventually became the man who supervised preparations for every mission from the Mercury program through the early shuttle flights. He was the last person the astronauts would see before they closed the hatch, and he became something of a legend at NASA. The Unbroken Chain features Wendt's accounts of his career highlights, good and bad, as well as behind-the scenes revelations about missions and personalities. Three sections of great photos accompany the text, and best of all, the accompanying CD-ROM features a tour of Cape Canaveral hosted by Wendt himself. A must-have for space buffs, and a great accompaniment to the NASA Mission Reports series, also from Apogee Books. --Therese Littleton

About the Author

Guenter is a former mechanical engineer for McDonnell Aircraft and the individual responsible for the spacecraft test, checkout, and launch operations for all the Mercury and Gemini manned flights conducted at Cape Canaveral. After the Apollo fire he worked with North American Rockwell and was responsible for all the manned Apollo, Skylab, and ASTP flights. Russell F. Still is an information technology analyst and the author of Relics of the Space Race.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 20 customer reviews
Once I started reading the book, I couldn't put it down.
J.E. Thompson
Wendts career in such a way its an easy read, yet methodically laid out for ease of understanding.
A. Hallonquist
Russell Still has done a wonderful job of relating Guenters story.
C. Whitney

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Space Program Veteran on November 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In his new book, 'The Unbroken Chain', Guenter Wendt, with co-author Russell Still, recounts his years working on the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and early Space Shuttle programs, capturing an aspect that other books have missed - the invaluable contributions of the army of workers "in the trenches," as he is fond to say.
Guenter's wonderful (and often hilarious) anecdotes and personal encounters only add to the interwoven theme of The Unbroken Chain - that it takes a 'chain' of tens of thousands of individuals to accomplish just one successful space mission.
'The Unbroken Chain' features an added bonus - alone worth the cover price - a CD-ROM disk that takes the reader on a virtual computer tour of the Cape Canaveral launch facilities, narrated by Guenter Wendt and filled with his colorful tales of the early days of space exploration. The disk also includes a 360-degree panoramic sweep of several historic launch pads as they appear today and an impressive collection of personal references from a veritable "Who's Who' of the Moon race.
'The Unbroken Chain' is a winner and a perfect addition to any library. It will bring a smile to the face of any reader even marginally interested in the Race to the Moon.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Peter Mackay on March 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The man at the top of the launch tower, the supervisor, the captain of the pad - Guenter Wendt was the boss man around the actual launch vehicle. His unique perspective is well reflected in this collection of stories about the first days of the space age.
In an astonishing odyssey, Guenter was there from the very first days of Mercury when they were still sending chimps up (and yes, he's got a few yarns about Ham and Enos) to the post-Challenger shuttle flights. His was the last face the crew saw before leaving earth and it must have given every astronaut the feeling that they were in safe hands.
Guenter was a hard man in a difficult job and he made a few enemies along the way, but he did it all in the name of safety. He enforced the rules and it didn't matter who was breaking them, they got short shrift from the pad leader. As it should be.
But he wasn't the unsmiling fuehrer some liked to portray him as. In this book his humour shines through on every page. He always had an eye for a practical joke and he could see the funny side of every situation.
This is a memoir of the space program that is more concerned with the men than the machines and systems. It's not that he doesn't describe the hardware and the missions, it's that he has a different take on it, a perspective focused up close and personal, rather than the view from Mission Control or one of the prime contractors in Long Island or California. He was there talking to the astronauts as their final straps were tightened and they reached out to clasp his hand before the hatch was sealed.
You know, I never get tired of hearing the grand story of Apollo, and Guenter's book fills in one of the empty corners very nicely. Not a book for those who love jargon and hardware and the voices of the heroes as they guide their craft through the void. Nor a book about goals and objectives and milestones and missions. No, this is a book about people, written by someone who cared.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on August 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Memoirs are in vogue for the pioneers of the space age. In the last few years memoirs have appeared by astronauts Gene Cernan, John Glenn, Gordon Cooper, Wally Schirra, Alan Bean, Deke Slayton, Alan Shepard, Gene Cernan, Jim Lovell, Apollo flight directors Gene Kranz and Chris Kraft, Marshall Space Flight Center engineer Homer Hickam, Jr., and Lunar Module designer Tom Kelly. This is another memoir from the heroic era of human space flight, but one from a unique vantagepoint. Guenter Wendt was the legendary "pad leader" for all of the human space launches from the first Mercury mission in 1961 through the last Apollo flights.
German born, with a rich accent that remains to the present, as a McDonnell and later North American Rockwell employee Guenter Wendt held responsibility for capsule test, checkout, and launch operations at America's spaceport at Cape Canaveral, Florida. In that capacity he crossed paths with every astronaut and many of NASA's senior officials in a career that ended with his retirement in 1989. This memoir, co-written with Russell Still, is filled with dozens of such stories about those interactions-some classic, many never revealed before, a few embarrassing, even more humorous-about the astronauts, technicians, engineers and other officials Wendt interacted with for three decades.
Wendt describes in this book a relentless pursuit of excellence, safety, and security both for his team and the mission under his care. Astronauts respectfully called him "Pad Fuhrer," a term not always used with affection. Wendt's emphasis on successfully completing the mission, ensuring the safety of the astronauts, and creatively sidestepping bureaucracy earned the admiration of many.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What can I say, except WOW!? This beauty is chock FULL of interesting stories and insider information that only someone like the author can provide. Guenter Wendt tells the story of the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle eras of NASA like no one else has, or could. Only he was there from the very beginning through to the Shuttle era, and he tells it like it was, with no sugar coating and plenty of new and fresh stories. His unique perspectives on the astronauts really brings their personalities out like nothing I've read before. There's so much new and interesting to read in this book that I will have to reread it several times to absorb it all. I met the author at a book signing in Los Angeles and he is a wonderful man. Later on, when I read the book, I couldn't help but feel like I was still at the book signing, listening to terrific tales of Mercury Gemini and Apollo. If you get a chance to meet him in person, you really must. If you can't meet him in person, you couldn't do any better than to buy this book, because he's in there, accent and all. Like other books by Apogee Press, this one comes with a CD-ROM which has awesome quicktime videos of Guenter giving a personal tour of the launch pads and other areas at the Cape! You can hear his stories in his own words! It's got lots of other goodies, like personal letters to Guenter from dozens of astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, Gus Grissom, Alan Shepard, John Glenn, John Young, Jim Irwin, and many more. What an incredible journal, documenting the fantastic voyages and voyagers of NASA. I rank it right up there with "Carrying The Fire" as a valuable and treasured insiders history of NASA. You won't be disappointed with this one, check it out at [...] too, for future events and signings.
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