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Off the Planet: Surviving Five Perilous Months Aboard the Space Station Mir Hardcover – 2000

3.9 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Imagine yourself in a decaying space station far away from the atmosphere you never realized you needed so badly, not knowing if the next malfunction would kill you or merely keep you busy. Dr. Jerry M. Linenger experienced just this and describes his harrowing but ennobling five months aboard Mir in Off the Planet, a memoir that evokes the excitement of living every day as a life-threatening adventure. Linenger's very personal writing style draws the reader into the story quickly, breezing through his childhood, Annapolis training, medical school, and selection as an astronaut, then moving quickly to the Mir assignment and its aftermath.

Linenger isn't shy about sharing his opinions. Chapter titles like "Broken Trust" and "An Attempted Coverup" show his feelings about the bizarre relationship between the crew and mission control that may have kept him and his Russian comrades in constant danger. He also heaps praise on his fellow crew members and family for their strength and perseverance throughout the mission--between communication difficulties, the cloud of doubt surrounding the station's systems, and problems like fires and toxic fumes, it's a wonder anyone survived with their sanity intact. The full-color pictures accompanying the text add further insight into life aboard Mir. --Rob Lightner


'Off The Planet: Surviving Five Perilous Months Aboard the Space Station Mir' by Jerry M. Linenger is one of the most readable. Off the Planet sheds new light on such present developments as the Russians' determination to continue the Mir after their repeated commitments to abandon it, combined with their commitments to the International Space Station. The book makes one think that perhaps the United States would be better off partnering in space with, say, Somalia or Lower Slobovia. Russian Psychologist, cure thyself and thy kindred. The Washington Times 20000305 The author, a NASA astronaut, orbited the earth more than two thousand times in the space station Mir and became the first American to spacewalk outside a foreign spacecraft. But he paid a high price for these distinctions. Inside, Mir was as mess, and several power failures lefts its inhabitants in total darkness. Worst of all, Linenger reports, was the lack of professionalism among their Russian handlers. "Mission control in Moscow became our enemy rather than our friend." he writes, "our nemesis rather than our support structure." Mission control threatened to cut the Russian astronauts pay if they performed poorly, and dangled bonuses for doing well. And mission control's propensity to micromanage was so extreme that the astronauts had their every activity programmed down to the minute. The Washington Post Book World 20000214

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 007136112X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071361125
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was wrong. I picked up Jerry Linenger's long-overdue book expecting it to be a somewhat bland account of an astronaut's existence aboard Mir. Instead I found it to be eminently readable, and a truly facinating tale, with enough intensely dramatic content to keep me reading beyond each chapter heading. Other reviewers have mentioned his account of the fire aboard Mir - a very harrowing description indeed, but I was fascinated by some of the smaller vignettes, such as his terror at standing on the end of a robotic arm, thrust out and away from the shuttle, feeling like he was in perpetual freefall off a cliff. I've read many books by and about a lot of space explorers, and it was nice to find a solid, human account of life as a recent NASA astronaut. All too often these days the astronauts just seem to be the same person going up on the same shuttle doing the same things, and little is known about them beyond their names. Thank you Jerry for humanising the shuttle-Mir program. But above all else I wish to congratulate him for a superb book written without the ubiquitous ghost-writer. The words are his own, and I feel he's crafted this book superbly. I certainly enjoyed it a great deal, and wish it every success.
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Format: Hardcover
Jerry Linenger gets rapped in Dragonfly as being a total egotist, and this book does nothing to dispell the notion. He makes sure to mention in great detail the number of advanced degrees he has, his skills as an athlete, the fact that he got a shuttle flight only two years after being chosen as an astronaut, and so on. (Dragonfly makes it clear that the only reason he got a flight was that the Russians forbade rookies aboard Mir, so he had to get a quick flight before reporting for Mir training. Linenger doesn't mention this, nor his mission commander's dissatisfaction with his performance on his one flight.) There's not a whole lot about anyone else in here, and even most of the photographs are of him and him alone. The quality of the writing also makes it clear that he wrote the book himself without the aid of a professional-not that it's bad, but that it could be better. Gene Kranz did the same, but in that case it seemed to work because one got the feeling that the words were coming straight from the heart.
That being said, this remains an interesting book. Linenger is one of only five American astronauts to spend time aboard Mir and the only one (so far) to write a book it. So hearing his thoughts on the preliminary training and the experience itself remain well worth reading, whatever his faults. The most gripping part is his account of the fire onboard Mir, which was far more dangerous than NASA was originally led to believe. He also provides something of the feel of that unique experience, spending five months in cramped and alien quarters with only intermittent contact with his family.
So, in short, Linenger is not someone I'd enjoy spending much time with, I don't think, but I did enjoy reading his book. Recommended for the space enthusiast or anyone interested in a first-person account of the space program.
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By A Customer on August 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
No Doubt that Jerry Linenger is a very brave very intelligent guy. But this book is 253 pages of self praise and I could barely get through it, particularly the first few chapters. "I am formally Dr.,Dr.,Dr.,Dr.,Dr. Jerry Linenger" "My name properly written is Jerry Michael Linenger, M.D, M.S.S.M.,M.P.H.,Ph.D." The words 'me,my, I' predominate. Other people in the book are glossed over and no one is as smart and clued in as Jerry. The sequence of events is also organized in a disjointed way, it leaps from the present to the future to the past all within one chapter, and there are 27 chapters. It reads like a collection of articles. And he states and restates the same facts over and over. The book does cover some interesting ground, but overall it was disapointing.
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By A Customer on February 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is easy to read and has lots of good pictures, so when I first thumbed through the pages I thought it was going to be another PR job for NASA. Much to my delight, when I actually "dug in" I discovered an original, candid and insightful discussion of US-Russian collaboration and of the author's experiences on Mir. Sure, Linenger comes off as a "right stuff" astronaut: after all, you can't earn a series of degrees and succeed as a military officer, as a physician, and a spacefarer unless you have outstanding qualifications and high self confidence. Despite the author's occasionally overbearing "can do" mentality, Linenger offers a balanced view of life aboard an aging Space Station. It is full of useful but usually tasteful detail on how people survive psychologically and relate to one another under prolonged isolation and confinement. The stories are interesting, and in the telling Linenger gives us insights into everything from interpersonal to international relations. I finished this book reminded that living and working in space is a complex, multifaceted endeavor that defies simple analysis. Dr. Linenger's book not only entertains, it increases our understanding of people in exotic and stressful environments. I have read at least two other major books about life on Mir, and still found this one engaging and informative.
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