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Thirteen: The Apollo Flight That Failed [Kindle Edition]

Henry S. F. Cooper
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”

On the evening of April 13, 1970, the three astronauts aboard Apollo 13 were just hours from the third lunar landing in history. But as they soared through space, two hundred thousand miles from earth, an explosion badly damaged their spacecraft. With compromised engines and failing life-support systems, the crew was in incomparably grave danger. Faced with below-freezing temperatures, a seriously ill crew member, and a dwindling water supply, a safe return seemed unlikely.

 is the shocking, miraculous, and entirely true story of how the astronauts and ground crew guided Apollo 13 to a safe landing on earth. Expanding on dispatches written for the New Yorker, Henry S. F. Cooper Jr. brings readers unparalleled detail on the moment-by-moment developments of one of NASA’s most dramatic missions.

Editorial Reviews


“Cooper’s Thirteen is exciting. . . . Close to what may be an authentic poetry of our period.” —The New York Times

“Make no mistake about it. Thirteen tells a marvelous story. A lot of readers will take the book at a single gulp, unable to stop reading.” —The Washington Post

“[An] impressive piece of reportorial research . . . Compelling reading.” —Chicago Tribune

About the Author

Henry S. F. Cooper Jr. is the author of eight books about NASA and space exploration, and was a longtime staff writer for the New Yorker. He lives in Cooperstown, New York.

Product Details

  • File Size: 543 KB
  • Print Length: 122 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (December 31, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00H5KRG82
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,939 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for space flight nerds February 13, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
The review is based on the recently-released Kindle edition. I read some of the author's New Yorker articles at the time of Apollo 13, but not this book. Since then there have been excellent books on the subject including Failure Is Not an Option and Lost Moon.

My main problem with this book is the author appears to have decided on what story he was going to tell, and then didn't let the facts get in the way. A major part of his story is that the NASA staff was inattentive, bored and sloppy. For example he writes, "After two successful lunar landings, which had been preceded by two Apollo flights around the moon, no one at the Space Center was thinking in terms of accidents," and after the explosion, "No one believed that there could be any flaw in the craft itself."

Anyone who has been around any engineering project, much less one as dramatic and difficult as a moon shot, knows that cannot be true. If it were no one would survive a day, or get a rocket off the ground. The author's evidence is things like a flight controller sending word to the astronauts that they were, "putting us to sleep down here," and idle loop comments on the number of 13's that turned up in mission data. These are not evidence of inattention or sloppiness, they're the normal tension-diffusing banter of highly-trained people performing difficult and critical work.

Once people start doing things the author can understand, like issuing orders and making engineering changes, he portrays them as energetic and efficient.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The first detailed account of the Apollo 13 accident (this book originally came out in the early 70's) and one of the best (second only to Lovell's "Lost Moon"). Cooper tells the entire mission story and uses many of the Mission Control transcripts that (in my opinion) are the difference between a third person telling of a mission story or a feeling of actually being there. This book has been re-printed, so it's availability isn't an issue. Read this along with Lost Moon and you'll see the blatant errors in the movie "Apollo 13". Highly recommended.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly readable August 21, 2000
This is the Apollo 13 story almost exclusively from the Mission Control perspective. It very thorougly and completely details what went on in Houston from the moment of the "accident" to the recovery of the astronauts. This book helped me to understand how critical Mission Control is to space flights, how the astronauts are not necessarily piloting their spacecraft but that it is a joint effort. I was surpised by many facts given here such as that Mission Control had more information about the status of the spacecraft than the astronauts themselves. The author does an outstanding job of expalining the technicalities of what happened and why without making you feel like a dummy.
Through the lens of 25 years, it is very interesting to read this account and feel some of the respect and almost naivete the author and the public felt for NASA and the government at large that has long since been lost. I also enjoyed how the book was divided into three sections "Out" "Around" "Home".
I did feel the book suffered from its narrow focus on Mission Control only during the duration of the "event," and no pictures -- none and only one line diagram. These are small complaints, however. The book makes a wonderful companion to Jim Lovell's account.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
As a boy, I found this book in the public library and read
all about the ill-fated Apollo 13 spaceflight of April 1970.
I had lived through the experience as an 11-year-old, and I
remembered the drama of the real-life explosion aboard the
Apollo spacecraft as it made its way to the moon.
But it was not until I read this remarkable story, that I
gained true insights into what had happened and how NASA
flight crews and engineers were able to bring the crippled
ship home safely.
I read this book about 20 times as a kid, finding it again
in the libary and checking it out regularly.
I loved it so much that I always checked for it in used
bookstores, because it went out of print quickly.
Author Henry S.F. Cooper is a gifted science writer,
making complex matters simple and understandable, yet
he never underexplained what was happening.
I finally located it in the summer of 1991, in a used book
store in Cooperstown, N.Y., while on a visit to the Baseball
Hall of Fame. Remarkably, I had stumbled into a bookshop
in the very town where Henry S.F. Cooper's family lived,
and the store had used copies of several of his science
I bought one of each, including my beloved hardback copy
of ''13: The Flight That Failed'' (that was the original
I still re-read it from time to time, with the same awe and
love that I have had for it since I was little.
The film, ''Apollo 13,'' was a fine film narrative,
but Cooper's classic book should not be missed.
Give it to a 10-year-old you love. :)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A good book full of more technical details than what I ...
A good book full of more technical details than what I had seen before. I learned a lot more about the incident than I expected and it gave me a better understanding of what... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Anthony S. McComas
5.0 out of 5 stars An out of this world experience
An incredible story out of this world. Amazing how a combination of talent and human brains combines to successfully solve a seemingly impossible situation. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jeff
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much technical jargon for the layman
So glad they got back safely, but there was too much technical scientific stuff for non-NASA folk like me. I'd like for it to be told in layman's terms. Read more
Published 2 months ago by SamanthaG
4.0 out of 5 stars Technical and fun
Very technical description of the whole Apollo 13 mission.
Published 2 months ago by B. Walsh
5.0 out of 5 stars Thirteen: the Apollo flight that failed.
I was completely engrossed in the enormous amount of problem solving that went on.
The descriptions of all the players, and their reactions made me feel the stress and their... Read more
Published 2 months ago by J. McAdams
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 3 months ago by john kunze
3.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Technical and amazing
Although I did not understand much of the technical jargon, the story held my interest to the end. I think it was a miracle that they got the astronauts and craft back to earth. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Gardener
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Technical, but still very interesting!
Published 4 months ago by Annie
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
Very enjoyable read for the science/history nerd in all of us!
Published 4 months ago by Brandilyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An excellent book! It is mostly a technical, but highly readable account of the 'successful failure.
Published 4 months ago by cta
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