`We Seven' is a period piece. It was first published in 1962 and has been relatively hard to find for several years except as a used book. My one and only complaint about this reissue is that there is no new introduction - it is presented simply as it was published, which for some might be confusing; i.e. writing about the seven astronauts as if they were all still alive. There is an introduction by 'Life' and some black and white photographs and a detailed index. What it does show is all the hope and naiveté of the time and the men involved, the mind set of the military and NASA then and all the hope and pride that went with it. It is indeed interesting to read again or for the first time. There is much emphasis on John Glenn, he seems to give longer and more detailed interviews. That is also what is fascinating about this account, it is the astronaut's words themselves; although one should be aware if you cannot tell that these are the public interviews. There is none of the gossip of private lives or complaints of operational conditions. Even the stories of failures, Gus Grissom's loss of his space capsule is dealt with as a disappointing accident as it was presented at the time: "at least we did not hide information like the Russians did concerning their space program". Each of the seven tell of how they were chosen, how they worked together and were a team that brought America into space. These men, both the astronauts themselves and the NASA technicians that launched them are passing out of our lives. Only two of the original seven are left John Glenn and Scott Carpenter. (Oct. 2013...and now there is 1 ...Read more ›
I got this book from my dad, and he got it when it was first edited (the German version) in 1962. It was standing a long time untouched on my bookshelf but one day I took it out and started reading it. From the first moment I was fascinated. I think its the way the book is set up: Every different chapter is written by another astronaut of the mercury program. It gives a very good description of the mercury program, free worlds first manned step into space. But there is more: The astronauts not only describe the program, there is also a lot of information about the in-betweens, the personal relationships and characters of the seven. When you read the book you realy can feel the spirit and the atmosphere of that time. When I had the chance to visit the National Air and Space Museum I stayed there a whole day and at least 3 hours I used to inspect the two shown Mercury-capsules in the entrance. It was one of the most fascinating moments because when I looked at the space vehicles I always remembered things from the book.
This book has become a family heritage for me and when I will have children of my own one day I will of course give the book to them - to let them smell the spirit of these seven pioneers.
Excellent book! Very readable. I've read many space program books and there were things I learnt. This book provides a snapshot in time (post mercury, pre gemini?) that becomes more valuable as the years go by. It is also interesting reading between the lines regarding the group dynamic. Not the book for any hard-hitting revelations though. Recommended.
I purchased the paperback version of this best-seller when I was eleven years old and read it so much that it fell apart! There have been more recent and certainly more revealing books written by and about the original seven American astronauts and those they worked with, both in and out of the space program. Yet this book, written at the time of the Mercury orbital flights, takes you right inside the Mercury capsule (yes, it was a capsule then) and makes you feel as if you were riding in space with the Astronauts, or training alongside them, whether it be in a simulator in their training headquarters, in a classroom learning cutting-edge (then) astrophysics, in a survival course on the desert or in the jungle, or on a trip to a meeting with the contractors who built the hardware for the space program. Each astronaut reveals his motivation for joining the space program and his idea of how to go about his assignments; this alone disproves the notion that these men were all white male military test-pilot "peas in a pod". It's as if they were guests in your living room. With all due respect to Tom Wolfe, this is where you find the real "right stuff!"
I've read almost all the astronaut books. When I was a small boy the original 7 Mercury astronauts were my heroes.
This book is of great historical significance. Written in 1962 with stories by the actual astronauts themselves. Remember everything known about manned space was new then. Many scientists a decade before did not believe man could survive in space. Many believed the astronauts eyes would pull out or blindness would occur because of high Gs. Many believed the astronauts blood would boil because of changes in pressure or radiation would cook their insides. It was a time of great unknowns. These were the first Americans to go into space. Remember that many of the earlier Redstone and Atlas boosters exploded. These men were basically strapped in on top of a possible exploding bomb. They were ex test pilots and knew the risks. Such courage.
The new NASA handpicked these 7 men from many military test pilots. Due to spacecraft size restrictions the seven could be no taller than 5 ft 11 inches and weigh less than 180 pounds. Many difficult, strenuous and demeaning physical and mental tests were given to select the best of the best. NASA wanted level headed, courageous test pilots with engineering or equivalent college backgrounds for direct input on spacecraft features/design as well as the best possible pilots with lots of flying experience and being level headed in case of emergencies.
All 7 men... M Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, John H. Glenn, Virgil Grissom, Walter M. Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Donald Slayton were all very competitive and wanted to be the first American in space. Alan Shepard was the first American in space. While "Deke" Donald Slayton was the last of the seven to go into space.Read more ›