- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: Apogee Books (May 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1894959213
- ISBN-13: 978-1894959216
- Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.6 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,311,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Real Space Cowboys, with Bonus DVD Video Disc
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The head of Space Camp (Buckbee) and a distinguished retired astronaut and raconteur tell the story of the American space program, through the moon landings. Originally conceived as a tribute to mutual friend Alan Shepard, the first American to orbit the earth, the book ends up providing capsule biographies of all of the Mercury Seven, the additional astronauts who landed on the moon, astronauts who didn't return safely, and nonastronauts who were key figures in getting into space, such as John F. Kennedy and Wernher von Braun. Buckbee and Schirra maintain a sense of proportion, and also of humor, about the perils, promises, frustrations, and failures of those days. They remind us that the Apollo pad fire that killed Gus Grissom and his crew nearly produced the degree of panic that the more recent shuttle crashes have--and that the space program keeps going. Schirra gets and takes the last chance to flavor the book by drawing on his matchless collection of anecdotes. Roland Green
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I checked this book out from the local public library and decided it was good enough (3.5 stars) to want to own a copy for myself. The book is an interesting read if you are really big-time into the early U.S. space program. The videos on the DVD are very dated, but considering the topic is the early days of space flight, what would you expect? The "Gotcha!" videos were probably hilarious to NASA employees in the early 60s, but fall short now.
I saved by buying "used - like new" from an Amazon Marketplace seller. I trust Amazon (and the Amazon Marketplace) for nearly ALL my book and video purchases.
WARNING: The DVD that I received with the "used" book was a single-sided DVD-R (recordable) rather than a commercially-produced double-sided DVD-ROM (like the book from the library contained). The content was the same (with a slightly different menu, of course), but by fitting it on a single-sided disc it probably suffered a little file compression (reduction in quality). Considering the age of the videos, this is probably not really an issue.
A BIGGER concern, however, is that some DVD players, particularly older ones, have trouble with DVD-R discs, and DVD-R discs are more easily damaged and have a shorter life-expectancy than standard commercially-produced DVD-ROM discs.
I don't know if all the Amazon Marketplace sellers' copies of this book have DVD-R discs or just the one I chose, or if the publisher has switched to DVD-R in later printings of the book, or whatever, but keep this in mind if you have compatibility issues with DVD-R discs. It was not really an issue for me, but it might be for you...
The book is still an interesting read. The videos are really just a nice plus. Enjoy! Keep the dream alive!
This is a timely book as you realize that only 3 of the 7 remain alive and they're not getting any younger.
Defintily worth reading and owning.
The attached disc is also good.
A darn good comfortable read, worth your time...
[...] They were the men who flew on our black-and-white TV sets in our homes and schools, majestic heroes exploring the last frontier. We knew them then from media reports, later from books like "The Right Stuff." (By the way, to a man, the Mercury 7 were irritated by the Hollywood-ization done to the movie version of the book.)
"The Real Space Cowboys" picks up where "The Right Stuff" left off. It's contemplative and insightful, as if only years later did these men appreciate the enormity of their accomplishments. It's a "Greatest Generation" sort of reflection on their part, through interviews, anecdotes and first-person accounts.
Along with the Mercury 7, there is another central character in the book, Dr. Wernher von Braun, the German rocket scientist whose skills in persuasion to get the space program launched and to motivate his teams of engineers and worker was matched only by his scientific genius.
"I liked that the book brought von Braun to the surface," Schirra said in an interview. "People didn't know much about him. He was a very gracious man who did some amazing things."
This is the ultimate insider book. Ed Buckbee, the author, worked with von Braun at Marshall Space Flight Center and as a NASA public affairs officer worked with all the astronauts who flew the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions.
He was selected by von Braun to create and manage the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., and was founder of the U.S. Space Camp and, along with the Mercury 7, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame near Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Schirra shrugged off his role here as "editing and verifying a lot of things." If that's not just mere modesty, he has to be the most accomplished fact-checker in publishing history, the only man to travel in Mercury, Gemini and Apollo flights.
Along with a gallery of photos displayed throughout, the book comes with a DVD that has save-for-your-grandchildren moments, like a mini-documentary on Shepard's first flight, as well as some whimsical moments with elaborate practical jokes. "Levity is lubricant of crises," Schirra said, explaining the astronauts' love of a good "gotcha."
The fun-loving side -- Shepard once borrowed an Indy 500 race car and drove it onto Johnson Space Center, just to trump Schirra's pride in a new Ferrari -- mixes wonderfully and entertainingly with the contemplative side in this book.
What Buckbee and Schirra proved conclusively in "The Real Space Cowboys" is there was plenty of fascinating stuff to write, years after "The Right Stuff."
-- Mark McCarter, columnist, The Huntsville (Ala.) Times