- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: Cooper Square Press (April 3, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 081541028X
- ISBN-13: 978-0815410287
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,191,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys Paperback – April 3, 2001
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Collins can write…. He is breezy, glib, collegiate, and frequently funny. There are marvelous things in Carrying the Fire that catch a reader unaware every few pages. (The New York Times)
Strikingly authentic. Collins is an extremely good writer, and his lean, forceful prose makes this an unusually readable memoir…. Written with vigor, humor, and unusual insight into men and machines, this is an outstanding book. (Library Journal)
About the Author
Michael Collins, a NASA astronaut, was the third American to walk in space (Gemini 10) and the pilot of the command module during Apollo 11's mission to the moon in July, 1969. Following his career as an astronaut, he served as the director of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. He has since retired and lives in Marco Island, Florida.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book has a reputation for being the best of the Apollo astronaut's books, and I can see why. It is also one of the best non-fiction books I've ever read! Collins has a way of putting you right there with him in the cockpit as a test pilot, in the Gemini capsule, walking in space or aboard Apollo 11--and there are some real white-knuckle moments he went through!
Highly recommend for those wanting to know more about the Apollo program & Apollo 11, or those too young to remember, who wish to know what it was all about.
What was I waiting for? This is an outstanding book. Collins has written a fantastic book that in many ways relates the inner thoughts of someone who participated in this extraordinary venture. I believe this was the first and frankly, probably the best book on the subject from the astronauts. Having seen some extended interviews he has done in recent years, the immediate realization is that the book is exactly like the person. The cadence and wry sense of humor. Fantastic. Honest. Frank.
The book is lengthy and is about as much of a page-turner such a book is going to get in this context. I enjoyed the account very much, including the foreword buy Charles Lindbergh. This explained much of what was going on with Apollo 11, but also Gemini as well.
He somehow resists the urge to turn his story into self-adulation, bully pulpit, or tedium; an urge that seemingly overpowered many of his fellow astronauts when they 'wrote' their own books. His 'reporter's eye' and droll wit is especially surprising in someone that is a military academy graduate, career officer (he retired with great distinction as a lieutenant general), and a trained engineer.
Collin's description of the training and flight of Gemini 10 with 'Corned Beef' John Young is vivid and arresting. His narration of his space walk is so entrancing that it settled the question -- at least, for me -- what it was truly like 'up there'.
Apollo 11, the Big Enchilada, is one of the book's finest segments. Collins gives readers such a sense of belonging to the mission themselves that it is irresistible. He describes the training in the simulators, the torture in the 'Vomit Comet' and the 'G-Wheel', and how it was to work with Armstrong and Aldrin. In this last, he is frank and candid. As he notes, it is difficult to have so many 'overachieving sons of overachievers' working together without some friction. He relates a small flare between the other two, after a 'crash' on the lunar surface during simulator training. This incident later appeared, nearly verbatim in the magnificent Tom Hanks 'From Earth to Moon' series.
Collins also takes particular care to pay homage and respect to the most unappreciated and neglected of the astronaut's support system -- his wife, Patricia. By the way, he and Patricia are still married (to each other), for about a half century, having been married at Chambley, France, which happens to be where I was born. Although I doubt that the two events are related. At least, one hopes so.
This book also has the advantage of giving color and life to other books about the space program, particularly Andrew Chaikin's wonderful 'A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts', and Gene Kranz's 'Failure Is Not An Option'.
Collins has that most difficult-to-exercise gift of the writer -- what to leave on the cutting room floor. I always found myself feeling, as I do with a great actor, of wanting just a little more. He never over-explains, and his description, even of the most prosaic and mundane things, is terse, apt, and still vibrant and vivid. I believe that he could write a pilot's checklist and make it absorbing. This is one of the books that I buy in bulk, and give away. Not only is it a record of a fascinating time in history, but it is a fine example of how such a tale should be written.
A small aside about the humor in the book; there is a footnote regarding radio procedures among fighter pilots that is simply one of the funniest things that I've ever read. How many footnotes have ever made you laugh aloud? I read the book (in one sitting, I might add, and yes -- it's that good) while occupying a booth next to a plate-glass window in a tavern during an afternoon of mixed thundershowers and blasting sunlight. When I read that particular bon mot, I roared, causing the other customers to stare and the waitress to bring me a glass of water and ask if I were all right.
I also owe a personal debt to Michael Collins. My brilliant and beautiful wife, Diane, are getting ready to retire. When our financial adviser asked me to describe my goals for a perfect retirement, I thought for a moment, and paraphrased something that Collins had said in his magnificent book: "Sitting on the porch in the evening, and talking to my wife."
Mike has a great style of writing and his humour comes across excellently in the book. He leaves no stone unturned and one of the most entertaining and unabashed passages in the book is when he is detailing his thoughts on the other astronauts.
This book is often quoted and any NASA or Apollo buff has at least 1 copy sitting in his collection. Even if you are not a NASA or Apollo buff but just want a good read, then this book comes very highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have read and enjoyed a number of astronaut autobiographies.Read more