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Schirra's Space (Bluejacket Books) Paperback – October, 1995

3.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Four 100-minute tapes. Unabridged. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

From AudioFile

Written as a conversational piece about the twenty-year career of Navy test pilot and astronaut Wally Schirra, this performance maintains the armchair tone and pace of what amounts to a collection of personal anecdotes. Richard Rohan handles the technical vocabulary well, making it seem as though the author himself were doing the narration. Schirra jumps around in time and space and repeats himself occasionally, but he convinces his fans that pilots work hard and play hard, and the casual stories of both his professional lives make interesting listening. Hear this book to learn what Commander Schirra said when President Kennedy asked him, "Wally, are you a turtle?" J.A.H. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Bluejacket Books
  • Paperback: 227 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (October 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557507929
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557507921
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,429,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas J. Burns VINE VOICE on April 22, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As much as I was a fan of Wally Schirra during his days in the space program, or perhaps because of that, I was mildly disappointed in his autobiography. This work strikes me as typical of a number of astronaut biographies and autobiographies rushed into print over the past generation or so, rather unremarkable in literary style and adding little to the historiography of this critical era of space travel.

Perhaps this should not be surprising. The author identifies himself as a technical man who throughout his military career kept his nose to the grind of precision flying and admits to little connectedness to the culture outside. No one should take up this work and expect to find Astronaut Schirra's opinion of "My Fair Lady." To the day of its publication the author through his book exudes continued pride in his association with other pilots of exceptional competence, and conversely, an avoidance of those who in his view are or were more form than substance. [Chuck Yeager, for example, will probably never grace the Schirra Thanksgiving table.] If Schirra is infected with hubris, it comes honorably.

Schirra is the antithesis of the joker and clown he was sometimes depicted as in, say, "The Right Stuff." It is within the world of test flying and space exploration that the reader will best connect with Schirra: learning, for example, that Schirra had little use for the extensive battery of medical tests to which all the early astronaut candidates were subjected. He was highly critical of the early conceptualization of Project Mercury. He was among those who considered early spaceflight "Spam in a Can" and lobbied extensively for pilot control in all of the various programs in which he served. His blunt talk, however, made sense as events would prove.
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Format: Paperback
I long have been a huge fan of Wally Schirra. I have always adored his keen sense of humor and wit. Furthermore, his impeccable aviator and astronaut careers always made me feel awe struck. Therefore, I greatly looked forward to reading Mr. Schirra's account of his career. My main interest was to get a real insiders look into the space program - which I believe the book did successfully on some major points. Mr. Schirra's wit pleasantly shined throughout the book - this made the reading more pallatable. Regretfully, the reason for my three star rating is the fact that the book would ramble. Without a moments notice, it would jump ahead in time and backward in time. I found this fact to be very irritating as I tried to stay focused and gain as much information as I could from my reading. I thought that maybe I was being too critical, but this sore spot was evident throughout the book. By the time that I had finished the book, I felt exaspirated from the time warps. Do not get me wrong, Mr. Wally Schirra is still a brilliant man in my eyes - I just found that the book was not a good representation of the the true great man that he is. All in all, for the average reader, I feel that this book has many good bits of information - as long as you are willing to sift through the minutia of time jumps.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a pretty good book. Wally is a very good story teller and I enjoyed his anecdotes about his time as an astronaut. It was really good to read about how the astronauts themselves felt about the program and how they contributed.

I did feel, however, that too much time was spent telling not-very-interesting stories about Wally's Navy days. But that's not my main gripe with the book, which is the poor editing and proofreading. Typos abound in this book, such as when Wally's wife is referred to as "Joe" (her name is Jo). Wally is worried about the Gemini's escape rocket, when in fact Gemini had no escape rocket. The date of the terrible Apollo 1 fire is given as January 27, 1966 (it was 1967). Obviously these and others are silly, obvious mistakes, but no one took the time to fix them, and they take away from the reading experience.

The one thing I hoped would be in the book that was not was Wally's reaction to NASA's grounding of the Apollo 7 crew after the flight. Because the astronauts had disagreements with Mission Control during the flight, neither Schirra, Cunningham, or Eisele ever flew again. Wally had already announced his retirement before the flight, but Cunningham and Eisele never got another chance to go into space. I'm sure Wally had some feelings about this, but they're not here. Strange, since throughout the book he's presented as a no-nonsense guy who speaks his mind.

I also would have liked more about Wally's days as a space commentator with Walter Cronkite. Only a few pages are devoted to that. A pity, since this is how many people got to know and remember Wally. Perhaps this was intentional--I think Wally wants us to know more about his flying days rather than overshadowing them with the TV days.

For both space aficionados and casual readers, Schirra's Space will entertain and inform. I enjoyed it a lot.
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Format: Paperback
Wally Schirra, perhaps more than all the other "Original Seven"

Mercury astronauts, embodies all the great strengths along

with the weaknesses of this group compared with the astronauts

who entered the space program after them.

It must be remembered that when the original astronauts were

chosen in 1959, manned spaceflight was a great unknown. In particular,

it was not known how the human body would responds to all the stresses

caused by the massive accelerations and decelerations of the spacecraft

in addition to the problems of prolonged "weightlessness". Thus,

those astronauts chosen were found to be able to withstand worst-case

scenarios for these things. Piloting skills were not as important

because the astronaut didn't really have much control of the Mercury


By the time Schirra flew on his Sigma 7 flight (the fifth of the series), it had been found that the psychological and physiological stresses were not that great. In addition, the flight before his, Aurora 7, by Scott Carpenter was a near disaster because he did a poor job doing what little

piloting he could. Thus Schirra was called on to show that, indeed, with

good piloting skills, precise maneuvers could be carried out. Using what

Schirra called "the light stuff", Schirra proved that a skilled pilot can

do what has to be done while conserving precious fuel.

By the time the much more advanced two-man Gemini spacecraft came to fly, it was now necessary to carry out far more sophisticated missions, involving rendezvous, docking and EVA.
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