- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 13 hours and 39 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audiobooks
- Audible.com Release Date: October 19, 2017
- Language: English
- ASIN: B075RMMYYK
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery
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Kelly juxtaposed his life onboard the ISS for the year-long mission with how he became an astronaut and the events leading up to the year-long mission. This was told in alternating chapters: the time on the International Space Station was written in present tense while his autobiographical part was past tense. I liked that the chapters alternated, because it prevented me from getting too bored or bogged down with one storyline. Both parts I found fascinating. To become an astronaut is immensely difficult and I have always been curious how that happens, both the selection process and the training, since astronauts are the crème de la crème. Add to that when you discover that Scott Kelly was a horrible student and aimless during his school years; how did this man end up obtaining one of the most difficult jobs ever? And that he and his twin brother were selected at the same time? The chapters about the ISS were equally interesting. Learning about the difficulties of space station life, from the everyday actions of eating and dressing and sleeping to the challenging duties required of the astronauts, was enlightening and made me appreciate my easy life a whole lot more. I was amazed by what he goes through for launches and landings. His whole story is very inspiring.
I gave a five star rating, but the book is not perfect. Overall I found it well written. However (and some of this may change since I did read an ARC after all) there was some repetition in stories or descriptions, though that didn't bother me too much. Also, the book was sprinkled with curse words and some talk of crude things (like diapers and toilets on the ISS). Not too much, but a bit more than I expected. Again, this didn't bother me but it might bother others, or be a bit much for young readers. And I viewed the crude stuff as okay because I realized that it's a part of the everyday challenges in space.
So that was the good part of the book, and why I recommend it. What I didn't like was the impression I was left with about Scott Kelly himself, and some personal choices he made in the book. I was pre-disposed to like him, but walked away not liking him (dislike might be strong). What bothered me were his comments about his first wife, and not wanting to marry her; as well as subsequent negative comments about her. True or not, it really wasn't necessary to share this -- it had no connection to the rest of the story, and wasn't necessary for explaining their eventual divorce. I could only think of his daughters -- who aren't that old (the oldest was a teenager during the narrative) -- reading this. It may be true, but not something you want to read in print about your parents along with a million other people. (And his attempts as times to make positive comments about her seem really forced -- you can't un-ring a bell.) So he chose to share all of that, but then the Lisa Nowak matter is weirdly handled -- or not handled. She was a classmate, coworker, and someone he knew for a long time. He makes a couple comments about her being obsessive, and getting her moved to another flight team. But the books skips over a big period of time and conveniently does not address her "trip to Florida." It also does not cover his public comments in the aftermath regarding alcohol use among astronauts. Even if for some reason he (or the editor, or legal) didn't want to go into the entire saga, it's weird to pretend like it didn't happen given everything else that was covered. At least an acknowledgement of some kind would have made sense. At any rate, while the editorial decision about the omission might have been someone else's, the editorial decision about including such negative comments about his first wife were his.
His astronaut twin-brother Mark was the one whose wife (Gabby Giffords, AZ Representative) got shot by the maniac in AZ. He covers that too. The fact that Mark and Scott are both astronauts (and twins) is stranger than fiction, and I loved reading about how Scott became an astronaut, a storyline that alternates between his progress from childhood, his lapse of focus, his inspiration to get on track—all beautifully interwoven with his more recent recollection of past missions. One can learn a lot from this book, as well as simply sating one's curiosity about the glitz and glamour of being an astronaut, along with the loneliness, the physical toll and the sheer distance from everyone you love. Highly recommended! Space geeks will love it, but everyone can be inspired by this man's life and experience to-date.
I've also read biographies about Neil Armstrong and Alan Shepard. Reading Buzz Aldrin and Chris Hadfield next!