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Leap of Faith: An Astronaut's Journey into the Unknown Mass Market Paperback – January 8, 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this engaging memoir, Mercury 7 astronaut Cooper adds his compelling voice to the chorus of critics charging a U.S. governmental coverup of the UFO phenomenon. Written in the first person with Henderson (coauthor of And the Sea Will Tell), this book will challenge UFO skeptics and believers alike. On the one hand, Cooper states that, despite many reports to the contrary, neither he nor other astronauts saw UFOs in outer space. On the other hand, he reports that in 1951, as a young air force pilot based in Germany, he chased saucer-shaped UFOs, and that groups of UFOs passed over the base daily at speeds far superior to any manmade craft. In 1957, at Edwards Air Force Base in the California desert, Cooper was given photographs of a "classic saucer" that had reportedly landed at the top-secret military installation. He sent the photos to a Pentagon general, but never heard about the matter again. In the late 1970s, Cooper (who's now an aeronautical designer) unsuccessfully tried to launch a research company devoted to free worldwide energy transmission using Nikola Tesla's discoveries, as well as to advanced medical devices and other projects. His partner in this venture, Valerie Ransone, claims to receive scientifically useful telepathic transmissions from extraterrestrial sources. The story gets a lot weirder, as Cooper agrees to join Ransone in the Arizona desert for a telepathically arranged rendezvous with a UFO. Joining them at this alleged meeting (which was canceled) was Atlas missile aerospace engineer Dan Fry, who claims to have flown over Texas on board a UFO in 1950. On a more mundane level, Cooper's reminiscence offers an exciting insider's look at Projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, full of startling details about NASA's internal politics, disasters, glitches and close calls. 16 pages of color photos. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Although he is not, this autobiography of Cooper (youngest of the original seven Mercury astronauts) is slightly schizoid. Half of it recalls Cooper's distinguished career as an astronaut, which included the 22-orbit flight of Mercury Faith 7 and the record-breaking, trouble-plagued flight of Gemini 5 with the late Pete Conrad. Born and raised around aviation, Cooper left both the astronaut corps and the air force after the small-group politics of mission assignments led to his being denied an Apollo mission. He has devoted his life since, and devotes the rest of the book, to exploring the question of unidentified flying objects, in whose extraterrestrial origins he firmly believes, even if he isn't a UFO cultist. He draws on his background as an astronaut to bolster his persuasively argued position that, whatever UFO's may actually be, a policy of cover-up and obfuscation isn't going to help turn them into IFO's--identified flying objects. Full of tasty nuggets for space and ufology buffs and of portraits, not all of them kind, of his Mercury fellows, as well as his self-portrayal as an almost stereotypical fighter-jockey, Cooper's book attests that, when the time came, he boldly went where few had gone before, helping blaze the trail for the many who have followed. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch (January 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061098779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061098772
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,592,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As one of the "Original Seven", Gordon"Gordo" Cooper describes his unique life experiences such asbeing the last American to ever fly into space alone. From his youth in Shawnee, Oklahoma to being a fighter jock in Germany and Edwards Air Force Base in California, Cooper tells the story of his all American life and his eventual selection as one of the original seven American astronauts. Flying the concluding mission of the Mercury Program in May of 1963 aboard Faith 7, Cooper flew what many consider to be the best and most successful flight of Mercury. He made a pinpoint landing in the Pacific after all his electrical and cooling systems in his spacecraft started to die on him. He manually flew his spacecraft to a perfect splashdown. He later commanded Gemini 5 with Pete Conrad aboard which set an 8 day endurance record in space,a record at that time. Finally, Cooper reveals how he was shortchanged by two of his buddies Deke Slayton and Alan Shepard when they denied Cooper a shot at commanding a lunar landing so Shepard could get a shot. In Deke's book, he hints that Cooper had lost the edge and had not trained hard enough in a backup role to merit a lunar landing. Judging by Cooper's successful Mercury and Gemini flights, Slayton's statement seems self serving and a bunch of bull. Cooper was as good a pilot as the rest otherwise he would not have been chosen as one of the first seven astrounauts. The second part of the book deals with Cooper's reported sightings of UFO's from the cockpit of his fighter plane in Germany. He continues on and discusses his fascination and belief in UFO's and relates some of the activities he has been engaged in trying to heighten the awareness of the UFO phenomenon.Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Over the past few years I have rediscovered my fascination with the 1960s space race by reading several books by or about people connected with NASA back in those glory days. After reading "Leap of Faith" I have now read biographies of all the Mercury Seven astronauts. The good news is that Gordon Cooper's book is easily one of the most interesting. The bad news is that I don't exactly mean that as a compliment.

For about two thirds of this book Cooper recounts his days with NASA and here he is, pardon the expression, on solid ground. The passages feel a bit rushed and his interpretation of events differ from other viewpoints you may have read, but he's Gordon Cooper and he's earned the right to have his say.

Unfortunately, the NASA days are only part of Cooper's life story and it's the remaining one third of the book where he drives himself into the ditch. I knew from other sources that Cooper firmly believes flying saucers have visited the Earth and our government has conspired to keep the truth from us. I don't believe this myself, but again, he's Gordon Cooper and he has earned my respect. I was willing to listen to what he had to say.

A few UFO stories would have been fine, but Cooper shoots himself in the foot and destroys whatever credibility he had when he recounts his relationship with Valerie Ransone who he met in the late 70s. Ransone claimed to receive telepathic messages from space aliens and wanted to use the knowledge she was gaining to start something called the Advanced Technology Group. Of course, this group needed some funding to get itself going.

Rarely, if ever, have I read a book before where something becomes painfully obvious to the reader but of which the author remains blissfully unaware.
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Format: Hardcover
This man is one of the greatest heroes of the last half of the 20th century! If only for his tremendous flying abilities, which saved his life and maybe saved the space program when his Mercury capsule suffered a near-complete failure duing his mission. But there's much more to "Gordo" Cooper than just that incredible event. In this book he tells of his early days of flying, his remarkable test pilot experience, being chosen among the elite few for the space program, the testing and training regimen, the practice, practice, practice and then, finally, the exhilirating first lift-off and so much more, including chasing UFO's as a young Air Force pilot in Germany, and having a crew of photographers actually photograph a UFO at close range at Edwards Air Force base! Lots more fascinating stuff in this excellent book. Get it and read it, you'll like it! And you'll like him, too.
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Format: Hardcover
Holy cow! I thought this book would have been Gordo's reflections on being one of the Mercury Seven astronauts, similar to what John Glenn,Al Shepard, Deke Slayton, etc had written. In fact, only the first half of the book is about his Mercury days. The second half is a journey with Gordo into the world of the paranormal, as Cooper spends quite a lot of time with psychics, UFO fanatics, people who believe that they are being contacted by extraterrestrials, etc. Cooper is astonishingly accepting and uncritical of their stories. He says things like, "At first I was skeptical, but soon I started to believe that aliens were talking to her!" He never keys us into his thought process to show us how he was convinced and never lets us try to decide if these people were for real or just plain nuts (I assume the latter was the case).
At one point Cooper even thinks that, based on what one of these people has told him, that an alien ship is coming to take him on a trip. Honest! He goes so far as to pack a bag!
Overall, I would say to read the first half and forget about the rest. Both this book and Gene Cernan's "The Last Man on the Moon" serve to remind us that some of these astronauts, despite their good qualities, were very odd people.
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