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Splashdown!: NASA and the Navy Hardcover – July 1, 2004
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Where "Splashdown!" does excel is in Don Blair's personal accounts of being aboard for several recovery missions as a correspondent, including his presence aboard USS Hornet for the Apollo 11 recovery. His personal recollections, well-illustrated with photographs and memorabilia from his collection, tell stories that show the reader the human side of the space program, and let the reader know what it was like to be there as history was made. There are things in this book you won't find anywhere else. The hardcover version's price was a bit steep for what you get, but the more affordable paperback version makes it a worthwhile addition to the space enthusiast's library, and it's worth having to read Blair's entertaining recollections of those historic days. It's not definitive, but it's definitely enjoyable.
Don Blair was aboard the recovery ships and witnessed first-hand the recovery process. He had numerous interactions with key personnel responsible for the recoveries and broadcast 5 splashdowns. His book is really a personal memoir of his experiences, with wonderful personal photos, documents that include ship menus, and numerous other interesting artifacts. There are numerous rare personal photos including Neil Armstrong inside the MQF playing a ukulele following their historic mission. In addition, it is the first time a photo has ever been published of the prime UDT recovery team of Apollo 11 (UDT-11 and UDT-12). He also showcases numerous personnel often overlooked in the more commercial books on the Apollo Program. I would almost liken his book to browsing through a personal scrap book of photos, news clippings, and other memorabilia.
Don's book fills a historical gap too often passed over in a variety of books chronicling the Mercury-Gemini-Apollo missions. I think it is an excellent book and consider it required reading for those conducting a serious study of the history of manned spaceflight. I believe that most historians will agree that Don's book has a permanent place on the Apollo bookshelf.