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Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys
Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys
by Michael Collins
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.91
77 used & new from $0.53

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You Intend to Loan This Book Out, Be Prepared to Buy Two, October 2, 2002
I hate reviews that alternatively gush or are entirely critical of an author's work. Such reviews could be boiled down to a simple "buy the book" or "don't buy the book". Having got that out of the way, this is the best autobiography I have ever read. Period.
Michael Collins has produced what should be the definitive text for any writing class and for any history class dealing with the latter half of the 20th Century. The writing is clear and concise. The technical subject matter does not overwhelm the human story. Humor is woven throughout (Collins alone in the bar telling the bartender that he's going "up there" - which earns him considerable distance from the bartender and no more drinks after the first). For someone who was literally one of the chosen few and came out on top in a competition among the "best of the best", the self-deprecating style is delightful and, quite frankly, refreshing. Nothing can be better than an important story, well told. This is it.
Three sad points, however. First, I am unaware that Michael Collins ever wrote another completely unique book (his second outing was a somewhat simplified version of this book). We are all poorer off as a result. Using this work as an example, I would buy a book on the pros and cons of wet socks if it was written by Michael Collins.
Second, while men like Michael Collins are probably still around, I am not sure that we are giving them the opportunity to show us the greatness we can achieve when we put our minds to it. This book reminds us that real heroes aren't judged on what their latest movie did at the box office or what their latest baseball contract is worth. Men like Collins signed on to risk their lives as part of a group accomplishing something that was truly exciting and worthwhile. Can any of us even name one astronaut from the latest shuttle or ISS mission (not including kid singers who want to buy a ride - or have others buy it for them)? The fact that times have changed so much from Collins' heydays is sad.
Third, this is the second copy of this book that I have had to purchase. Against my better judgment, I loaned my first copy to a friend (just who I can't now recall) and never saw it again. I'm telling the next guy who asks to borrow this one to go out and buy his own. I suggest you do the same.
And oh yeah - buy the book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 15, 2013 2:19 PM PST

Once Upon a Wartime: A Canadian Who Survived the Devil's Brigade
Once Upon a Wartime: A Canadian Who Survived the Devil's Brigade
by Peter Layton Cottingham
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from $33.41

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Valuable and Personal History, April 10, 2002
Having read almost every available book and text published about the First Special Service Force, this book is not only one which I found hard to put down but is also one of the few that I look forward to re-reading.
Mr. Cottingham's recollections are obviously the product of a sharp mind and are doubly valuable when recounted through his clear and concise writing style. The historical events described are obviously important in and of themselves, but the reader becomes much more engaged by the fact that Mr. Cottingham and his fellow Forcemen are sympathetic men rising to face the extraordinarily difficult demands made of them.
This is not a "blood and guts" book thrusting the subject before the reader and attempting to impress by grandious "war stories". Rather, this is a personal recollection presented in a self-deprecating style that allows readers to come to their own conclusions that these men were true heroes at a time in our history when they were needed.
We should be thankful for the wartime contributions of the men of the First Special Service Force and grateful to Mr. Cottingham for this historically valuable, well-written contribution to the topic.

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