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Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon Hardcover – May, 1994

4.1 out of 5 stars 143 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Shepard and the late Slayton, two of the original Mercury astronauts, here team up with two veteran space reporters to produce a firsthand account of the space program's early days. The narrative is at its best when it focuses on the astronauts' flight experiences-Shepard's brief Mercury flight, his lunar landing mission ten years later, and Slayton's long-delayed trip into space aboard the last Apollo mission in 1975. On the down side, its use of re-created conversations that pass as exposition weaken the narrative, making it sound more like a screenplay prospectus than a space history. For example, it is doubtful that John Glenn had to explain to his fellow astronauts what the Saturn launch vehicle was. One comes away wishing for more insight into what it was like to walk on the moon and less about the astronauts' pranks and peccadillos. Still, with the book's publication timed to coincide with this July's 25th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing, this title may see some demand.
--Thomas Frieling, Bainbridge Coll., Ga.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

It's hard to believe, but most teens and people in their early twenties don't remember Americans walking on the moon. This book, written lovingly by two of the most respected astronauts in U.S. history, will remedy that. Journalists Jay Barbree and Howard Benedict organized the material, and they portray Shepard and Slayton as two close friends who shared the dream of many children of the 1960s: to fly in outer space. Sadly, Shepard, after becoming the first American in space in a mere hour's trip, developed inner ear problems that prevented him from going back, and Slayton's irregular heartbeat kept him from going at all. Meanwhile, President Kennedy escalated the space race to get a leg up on the Russians. Despite covering some of the same ground as Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff, Shepard and Slayton vividly portray the great bond uniting the original Mercury Seven. The most terrifying chapter describes the fire on the launchpad that killed three Apollo 1 astronauts, but problems on many flights (unbeknownst to TV viewers) were only solved by the skill of the astronauts as pilots. Shepard and Slayton are emphatic about environmental issues (having seen the Earth from a unique viewpoint), and Shepard's eventual moon shot is only topped by Slayton's emotional reaction to being cleared to fly the Apollo-Soyuz mission to dock with Russian cosmonauts, with whom he became fast friends. Expect much demand. Joe Collins

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing; 1st edition (May 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1878685546
  • ISBN-13: 978-1878685544
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,212,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
First, so you know, I'm a lifelong fan of the space program. I was five years old when Apollo 11 landed, and, like many of that age, caught a feverish interest in space travel and the people who actually did what I dreamed of doing.
I'm not saying that to claim a special expertise on the topic, but to confess that I'm far from impartial when reviewing a book like this. The fact is, I'd probably find Frank Borman's grocery list or John Young's dog's veterinary records intensely fascinating.
More's the pity, since I can't say the same for Moon Shot. Other reviewers have noted that the authors seem to have been unable to make up their minds whether they were writing a history of the space program, or a joint autobiography. Because of this, it fails at both. The coverage of the space program is haphazard, focusing on the authors' accomplishments while ignoring many other significant people and events. As a biography, Moon Shot leaves much to be desired, giving little information on Shepard's or Slayton's backgrounds, reasons for becoming astronauts, etc. If you're looking for an astronaut autobiography and a detailed account of part of Project Apollo, Jim Lovell's book, Lost Moon, does a much better job of putting both in one package.
Moon Shot does not go in depth into what it does cover. Instead, the major parts of each event are duly recited, and the narrative goes no further. Worse, the book breaks no new ground, either. When I bought Moon Shot, I expected that, since I would be reading recollections of people who directly participated in Project Apollo, I would be treated to unusual viewpoints and to information not readily available elsewhere. But, at no time while reading the book was I surprised.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you only read one book about the moon program, make sure it's not this one.

Jay Barbree comes across as a tabloid hack who is more interested in sensationalism than facts. His method of simply inventing conversations and reactions borders on the ridiculous.

The book is not a step-by-step guide through Mercury/Gemini/Apollo, but it's also not an in-depth story on Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton. It's as though the authors couldn't decide which way to go with the book, and ended up meeting none of the objectives.

Having access to Shepard and Slayton SHOULD have resulted in a book that was the definitive story of the American space program from its inception. Unfortunately the opportunity was lost.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My father was an aeronautical engineer who had me take him to his last air show three weeks before he died. I was in first grade when Alan Shepard made his first flight into space, so I grew up with the space program. As an adult, I've had a number of close friends who worked for NASA or NASA contractors. I'm a huge fan of the space program. And I found this book a big disappointment.

For one thing, the writing style was too overblown; it sounded like a press release, and not even from NASA. ("Poets in spacesuits" indeed). There were lots of little copyediting problems: run-on sentences, bad punctuation, use of the wrong word or the wrong form of a word. As others have pointed out, Barbree recreates thoughts, conversations and reactions that he couldn't know first-hand and that are inappropriate in a work of nonfiction.

He spends far too much time on mechanics and far too little time on perspective. He goes over the countdown and launch sequence in detail several times; anyone who didn't already know about the water blanket that cools the pad as a rocket's engines start up will have several chances to read about it in this book. On the other hand, he gives short shrift to the astonishing technological developments that either came from or were accelerated by the space race and help shape our world today. He mentions virtually nothing learned from lunar exploration except some arcane geology.

The most disturbing problem with this book is its lack of direction. It purports to be a history of the moon race from the perspective of Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton, but the voice is strictly Barbree's. We never hear directly from Shepard or Slayton. Some space missions are covered in detail; some are glossed over.
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Format: Kindle Edition with Audio/Video Verified Purchase
So, having read and loved the first edition of this book that came out way back in 1994, I jumped when I saw the new release, hyped to include new A/V content. But was definitely disappointed to discover that the A/V content amounts to only six short video clips embedded in the text of the book. The content of the clips themselves was nice, but I was expecting more. On the positive side, it doesn't cost any more than the regular Kindle edition, and the actual text of the book works on both my iPad and my "regular" Kindle. (The traditional Kindle just doesn't display the A/V clips).

This still remains a wonderful book, which is why I give it four stars. Just don't expect a huge amount of A/V in this edition.
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By A Customer on June 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Deke Slayton and Al Shepard's book is a fine, well-written overview of the American space program. It unfortunately misses in several ways.
First, the book can't decide if it's an autobiography or not. It's "the inside story," but it concentrates on Shepard's two flights and Slayton's overrated Apollo-Soyuz mission. The plot is skewed towards the authors, which doesn't make sense considering it's written in the third person.
I found this third-person narrative approach irritating. I almost felt as if the ghostwriters chose to describe the events in this manner so they could feed the astronauts' egos further. Apollo books often come face-to-face with the astronauts' infamous cockiness, but this book makes no attempt to hide it. Shepard described himself as a "leading test pilot, astronaut, explorer, adventurer, master of wings and rocket fire, and hero to millions." All this may be true but you're not supposed to say it about yourself.
It also needs more character development. It doesn't go beyond saying that Slayton and Shepard were friends. I got tired of being told outright of the friendship. I wanted to be told about it, not of it. I felt like I wanted to know the authors better, especially since they were the focus. On top of that, several crucial people such as Ed Mitchell (Shepard's lunar module pilot) are just names here- they are not given any substance.
It also concocts stupid commentary for narrative purposes. For example, to get across a point the book may recount a "conversation" between Slayton and Shepard that is so corny as to be all but useless. This is a subtle, but unfortunate problem with this book.
The final downfall of this book is its unwillingness to discuss the other Apollo missions.
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