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The Right Stuff Paperback – March 4, 2008
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Wolfe's roots in New Journalism were intertwined with the nonfiction novel that Truman Capote had pioneered with In Cold Blood. As Capote did, Wolfe tells his story from a limited omniscient perspective, dropping into the lives of his "characters" as each in turn becomes a major player in the space program. After an opening chapter on the terror of being a test pilot's wife, the story cuts back to the late 1940s, when Americans were first attempting to break the sound barrier. Test pilots, we discover, are people who live fast lives with dangerous machines, not all of them airborne. Chuck Yeager was certainly among the fastest, and his determination to push through Mach 1--a feat that some had predicted would cause the destruction of any aircraft--makes him the book's guiding spirit.
Yet soon the focus shifts to the seven initial astronauts. Wolfe traces Alan Shepard's suborbital flight and Gus Grissom's embarrassing panic on the high seas (making the controversial claim that Grissom flooded his Liberty capsule by blowing the escape hatch too soon). The author also produces an admiring portrait of John Glenn's apple-pie heroism and selfless dedication. By the time Wolfe concludes with a return to Yeager and his late-career exploits, the narrative's epic proportions and literary merits are secure. Certainly The Right Stuff is the best, the funniest, and the most vivid book ever written about America's manned space program. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Technically accurate, learned, cheeky, risky, touching, tough, compassionate, nostalgic, worshipful, jingoistic . . . The Right Stuff is superb.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“One of the most romantic and thrilling books ever written about men who put themselves in peril.” ―The Boston Globe
“An exhilarating flight into fear, love, beauty, and fiery death . . . Magnificent.” ―People
“Absolutely first class . . . Improbable as some of Wolfe's tales seem, I know he's telling it like it was.” ―The Washington Post Book World
“Crammed with inside poop and racy incident . . . fast cars, booze, astro groupies, the envies and injuries of the military caste system . . . Wolfe lays it all out in brilliantly staged Op Lit scenes.” ―Time
“Splendid . . . It shows our propensity to manufacture heroes, and, just as quickly, to forget them; it shows how a scientific program was exploited for political advantage; it provides a revealing character study of seven exceptional Americans.” ―The Saturday Review
Top Customer Reviews
Wolfe has written an epic that spans from the early days of flight test through the beginning of the US manned space program. It will increase the heart rate of aviators, aviation buffs and armchair pilots/astornauts. I highly recommend that anyone remotely interested in aviation/space read this book. While it may not be accurate to the smallest detail, the overall scope and feel for a era gone by can never be or has ever been captured in the history books.
Regarding Gus Grissom, new facts are coming to light that will clear his reputation. Wolfe does hammer Gus in the book about what was known at the time Wolfe wrote "The Right Stuff". However, all the research and reading that I have done, Gus was probably the smartest engineer and best test pilot of the M-7 astronauts . He had a reputation of being a real nuts and bolts engineer and a hard nose pilot. He could handle any situation while flying experitmental aircraft or on the ground discussing craft/engine design with NASA's engineers. If any one has ever seen the old NASA films of the Apollo program, when Gus is doing the radio tests on that fateful day, he really gives the engineers hell from the capsule owing to poor communication on the radios "Jesus Christ, we can't talk between three building, how the hell are we going to talk on the moon." Classic Gus.Read more ›
To my disgust, the Kindle edition is abysmal - clearly, Amazon or whoever came up with it ran the print edition through a character-recognition software program and utterly failed to copy-edit it afterwards. The number of errors is alarming, and it is only because I've read the print version so many times that I was able to recognize what some of the errors meant in the text.
It's a shame, because this book is a fine, fine book and one of my all-time favorites. Shame on Amazon or the publisher or both for charging $10.00 for a flawed, poorly-edited copy.
This book epitomizes the bright and dark side of Wolfe's school of writing, too. Above all, Wolfe can be as riveting and as entertaining as you'll find -- "truth can be funnier than fiction." I have heard how Wolfe caught the essence of what someone wanted to say even better than the one who said it, and he sure puts you into the thick of the action. The author gives a legitimate and interesting perspective. Nevertheless, this style plays heavily on your emotions, with all the problems that can involve, and the book is not terribly objective -- a purely entertaining incident can assume more importance than it should.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author did an excellent job of telling each space event as it effected all the concerned parties which could be his wife, teammates or his superiors. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Mrsb
At the time of publishing, besides the official NASA press releases there was very little information available to the public about the early US astronaut program, and as such this... Read morePublished 18 days ago by Flying Photographer
Awesome but I question how the USA can barely manage shooting a man on little more than a ballistic arc into near space in 1961 yet 8 yrs later they have a team on the moon... Read morePublished 24 days ago by Jake McHugh
A very good read. I'd seen the movie, of course, but the book provided so much more narrative back round.Published 1 month ago by Lou Myers
This is one of favorite books with Tom Wolfe outlining Chuck Yeagar, the American pilot whom broker the sound barrier in the late 1940's and the subsequent space race against the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by kalad levy
Interesting chronology of the "first 7" astronauts. I would have liked a bit more in the way of facts and the experience of training for the space mission, but it did dwell... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Happy Traveler
This is a re read for me. I think I enjoyed it more this time than 20 or more years ago. I've been fascinated with aviation since childhood. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Cape Cod granny