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Apollo: The Race to the Moon

5.0 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0671611019
ISBN-10: 0671611011
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From Publishers Weekly

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon," said President Kennedy on May 25, 1961. Eight years and eight weeks later, astronaut Neil Armstrong took his "one small step for man, one giant step for mankind." Murray ( Losing Ground ) and Cox, his wife, tell the absorbing story of how that goal was reached, mostly from the point of view of the managers and scientists who made it happen. They trace the design and development of successive spacecraft and boosters, explain how liquid-fueled rocket engines, guidance systems and other components work, and reveal the managerial controversies and technical improvisations that enabled the program to proceed despite serious setbacks. The setbacks are covered in depth; for example, the 1967 ground-test fire in which Gus Grissom and two other astronauts were asphyxiated, and the crisis during Apollo 13's return from the moon when there was a possibility that the astronauts in the space capsule might orbit the earth forever, "a perpetual monument to the space program." Photos. Macmillan Book Clubs alternate.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 506 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (July 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671611011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671611019
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on November 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I've read most of the other "space" books and this one is the best by far. Most of these books are written from the astronaut's point of view, and while this is an exciting and interesting view point, it's pretty clear that there are thousands of people working behind the scenes for each astronaut out doing his job (his - this is Apollo - all of them were men).
After reading "Apollo" I have a new understanding for the amount of effort and love that went into the creation of the Apollo program. The men and women who helped put a man on the moon are every bit the heroes as the 12 who stood on the surface (as well as the seven, the nine, etc.).
If you really want to understand how America put a man on the moon, this is the book to read. After you finish, go back and watch Tom Hanks' "From the Earth to the Moon."
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Format: Hardcover
Murray and Cox wrote by far the single best book on Apollo. It covers the political decisions, the engineering, the people, and the history. The engineering is explained in a clear and non-condescending way that non-technical people can understand, and yet it's thorough enough to interest scientists and engineers as well. The detailed descriptions of the various technical and political debates, as well as the struggles between divisions of NASA and various contractors are well documented with many different sources consulted.
With the current resurgence of interest in Apollo and the reissue of a number of lesser books, it's a great pity this book has not been reissued.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is the true "diamond-in-the-rough". With so many re-issues of material from the manned space program and specifically Apollo, it's hard to imagine that this book isn't re-issued again and again! This book (along with Andrew Chaiken's Man on the Moon and Jim Lovell's Lost Moon) is by far the definitive account of the Apollo program. Not just a re-gurgitation of the Apollo history, this story is told from a Flight Controller/Engineering perspective and gives a truer picture of what the early and subsequent days of the program were like. Here, Apollo Program Manager Joe Shea comes alive and is portrayed as an heroic/brilliant manager, not the villian of the Apollo 1 fire as in other accounts. You're down in the "trench" in Mission Control for not only the Apollo 11 Moon landing, but also for the lesser known Apollo 6, the ill-fated second un-manned launch of the Saturn V. It may be hard to find this book, but the effort is well worth it...one of the top 5 books that I've ever read.
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Format: Hardcover
Perhaps saying this is the best book I've ever read is too much (although, honestly, it just might be the best), but I will say it is my favorite, including fiction works. I've read it six times, after which I had to hide it from myself. If I walk by my copy and just happen to pick it up to thumb through I'll read it again.
Many non-fiction books tend to become tangential, or will leave the reader wondering if anyone involved with the project ever heard of an editor. Not this book. There is scarcely a wasted word or waver in direction, to the point that even the footnotes are worthy.
The authors' pacing of the story and placement of the material and concepts are unsurpassed in my experience. They create a genuine excitement in the reader.
It's a mystery why the book has never been reissued, which has driven up the price of existing copies and so reduced access to such an enticing and, in my opinion, needed history. I would very much like to see the BBC or Tom Hanks latch on to this story -- it's worth a twelve-part series.
Update, 9-19-04 - I have learned from the most reliable source this book has been reissued. Go to [...] for details.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is the most surprising book in my
collection and also one of the very best books
I have ever read. The writing is superbly
understated, incisive, and the subject timeless.

The story is authentically paced as a gentle
crescendo: quickly building from a time in the
early 50's of steady aeronautical research by
dedicated, patient, men in the languid surroundings
of a NASA campus, to the titanic romance and
frenetic energy of the Apollo program which
captivated the entire country through the mid 70's.

The story is about the engineers - not the
astronauts - and we come to see the truth of their
transformation as the intensity of their passion
for their dream and the scale of their problem
inevitably leads them from the merely dedicated
into the achievements of the superhuman.

No human story every really ends in victory, and
sadly, those who dream great dreams and struggle
toward noble goals often cannot understand what is
happening to them, as their dreams slip away in
the very moment of their success.

Do not be afraid of this book. It is too rich to
be simply described. It is not sad - it is a
real story with the authenticity of life ringing
through every page. You will find it immensely
rewarding. Many of its stories are vivid and you
will find yourself retelling them over the years.

Because of the authors acuity and the subject
matter itself, the book also shows, in the natural
context of the story, the lessons of
how such programs can be managed, how teams are
formed, how conflicts are resolved, and what
motivates people to realize great dreams.
Read more ›
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