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The Unbroken Chain: Apogee Books Space Series 20 Har/Cdr Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A must have. I am very sorry I did not buy it when first published.Published 2 months ago by Mark Lincoln
I cannot heap enough praise on this book. I have seen virtually every NASA documentary on the early space missions and yet this book revealed so much that I was unaware of. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Matthew David West
If you are looking for great literature or a detailed, footnoted, research book about NASA, this is NOT the book for you. Read morePublished 17 months ago by TF
It was a great loss to the NASA community and to those who followed the early NASA missions when Guenther recently passed away. Read morePublished on June 19, 2012 by Colin Brown
Great insight into how the U.S. space program was built from scratch from one of the men who helped build it.Published on May 1, 2011 by David C. Ekstrand
As an engineer who grew up on the back gate of NASA-JSC, I really enjoyed reading Guenter's Story. I enjoyed the easy to read format, the larger print, and the funny stories that... Read morePublished on July 4, 2003 by D. McSherry
I worked as an engineer on the Gemini and Apollo projects, with McDonnell in St. Louis and at the Cape, working for Boeing on Apollos 8 through 13. Read morePublished on February 11, 2003 by Delta Sigma
While I agree that a chapter about Guenter's pre-NASA life really would have been a Good Thing, this book is fabulous. Read morePublished on February 11, 2003