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Too Far From Home: A Story of Life and Death in Space Hardcover – March 6, 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When the space shuttle Columbia broke up during its re-entry into Earth's atmosphere in February 2003, two American astronauts were still aboard the International Space Station, along with a Russian flight engineer. With further NASA flights suspended for months, perhaps years, questions began to emerge not only about how to bring the three men back, but how to provide them with enough supplies while they remained in space. Jones first wrote about the Expedition 6 team in an award-winning article for Esquire (where he is a contributing editor), and his story combines gripping narrative and strongly defined characters. Though extensive accounts of the Americans' backgrounds seems at first to put the brakes on, it's a necessary counterweight to parallel passages about the little-understood Russian space program—essential information because the three eventually took "an accelerated, lung-crushing dive" in a Soyuz capsule. In addition to that adventure, Jones's reporting is filled with details of life aboard the space station, from the amazing beauty of a space walk to the more mundane problem of "taking a crap" in zero gravity. That sort of frank talk enhances readers' identification with the astronauts, making their drama all the more engrossing. (Mar. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In an up-close and personal style, with occasional Tom Wolfe-like flourishes, Jones depicts the life of the modern astronaut who boards the space shuttle and flies to the International Space Station (ISS). The experience of launch and living in orbit receive all-questions-answered coverage, from making wills to eating to using the toilet, given as preliminaries to Jones' main drama: telling of the predicament of two Americans and a Russian who were aboard the ISS when the space shuttle Columbia was destroyed in February 2003. Although not exactly stranded by the subsequent suspension of shuttle flights--the ISS had a Soyuz lifeboat--Kenneth Bowersox, Don Pettit, and Nikolai Budarin had to adapt operationally and emotionally to an extended mission until, after terrestrials debated and dismissed the idea of abandoning the ISS, the Russians could launch a replacement crew. Jones, who obtained the cooperation of Bowersox and his crewmates, captures their feelings of separation from Earth and delivers space travel's ever-present risk in a kinetic rendering of their harrowing return home. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (March 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385514654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385514651
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,001,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Terry Sunday TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As much as I try not to generalize from limited data, I must make the following observation: sportswriters should stick to writing books about things they know, i.e., sports. Sportswriters should NOT try to write about technical subjects like spaceflight. The prime example of a book that should never have been written is "For All Mankind," by sportswriter Harry Hurt--the hands-down, all-time, worst-written, least accurate, most-full-of-breathtaking-technical errors spaceflight book ever. "Too Far From Home," by Chris Jones (also a sportswriter), is not nearly as bad, but it is still clear that the author doesn't understand some of the things he wrote about.

By the time I was 50 pages into "Too Far From Home," I was reeling from Mr. Jones' jarring, bizarre and oversimplified descriptions of spaceflight technology. Here are a few examples. He portrays NASA's early spacecraft as "corrugated-tin capsules held together by hardware-store screws." What an injustice to the nationwide team of dedicated engineers and technicians who built what were, at the time, state-of-the-art vehicles. How about this one: during the final few seconds before a shuttle launch, "the three main engines began gimbeling [sic], testing their directional thrust...throwing off a little push with each pull of the trigger..." Huh? What trigger? Who's pulling a trigger? It's a pre-programmed computer-controlled sequence. Here's another one. Just as the shuttle enters orbit: "...a loud clang signaled that the external fuel tank had been blown loose and begun to come apart..." Jones seems to think that the ET blows up as soon as it separates from the Orbiter. It doesn't--it stays intact until it re-enters atmosphere and burns up (mostly) half a world away from its release point.
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Format: Hardcover
Felt like there was a little too much effort put into making this into a Manly Tale. Everything seems a little too exagerrated- the spicy language, the icy fear, the burning decisions. Maybe this style would have held up without question in a magazine, but at the novel's length, I kept wondering- "How do you know?" The little details started to feel like some of them were imagined or embellished; the writing was popping me out of being lost in the scene.

The endless background stories didn't seem like necessary set-ups to the main story, they seemed like padding. All the tales of the cowboy days of space travel made the main story a little beige.

This criticism doesn't have anything to do with the actual story subjects. I was very glad to learn what had happened to the crew (I had forgotten about them during that time just like everybody else). I would have probably enjoyed actual interviews and quotes from them more than this second or third-hand tale.
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Format: Hardcover
Only someone in total denial would be able to believe that space travel isn't risky or potentially dangerous..and, of course, there's been plenty of deaths among astronauts - before takeoff, while in the air, etc. Books have been written about those events. So what makes this one a standout?
Somehow, almost seamlessly, this particular author (Chris Jones) manages to create a book that breaks the mold and writes a gripping account of three astronauts who were left stranded in space when the unexpected happened and the Columbia exploded, leaving them literally "lost in space.", with no obvious ride home.
This book combines so many genres and melds them into one compelling read. It is part memoir/biography (with the lives of the astronauts and their background revealed), part gripping tale of what went wrong and also a revealing look at life in space, with the kind of details that people may not have known before. It all seems so IMMEDIATE, so real, so "you were there" in writing style. I could not put it down and I am not normally a fan of books about space or space travel.
So if you're looking for something different from what you usually read, pick this up - and then share it with a friend. It is truly an excellent and engrossing book, although at times I did have to put it down because it was so intense. But I couldn't put it down for long!
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Format: Hardcover
I am typically not a non-fiction reader. I bought the book for my husband and decided to read it first. I found myself quickly fascinated. The author takes some time to build a background of the astronauts that is essential to the story. In many instances the book reads like a novel, keeping me interested and focused. Pieces of history of the space program for the US and Russia are interspersed throughout, seamlessly blending with the story. The writing is beautiful. The author is able to spotlight the emotions of not only the astronauts who were "too far from home" but that of their wives as well. I highly recommended the book to anyone who loves stories about space and anyone else who just loves a good "story"!
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Format: Hardcover
It is somewhat hard to believe that in about a year, the first modules of the ISS will have spent 10 years in orbit. It is also a somewhat forgotten footnote that people have been living on the ISS for about 8 years as most of the world's population seems to be too caught up in things going on closer to home then to be concerned about the activities of a few individuals hurling around the Earth every 90 minutes. Chris Jones' book "Too Far From Home" has painted a most fascinating portrait of life aboard the ISS at a time of crisis for NASA, following the breakup of Columbia nearly 5 years ago.

Today we have some great autobiographical (and biographical) books being written about the shuttle program with Mike Mullane's "Riding Rockets" and "Sky Walking" written by Tom Jones. But "Too Far from Home" is the first I've read that covers life onboard the ISS itself as opposed to a shuttle mission to the ISS (such as the final mission that Tom Jones flew on when the Destiny Laboratory was delivered, chronicled in "Sky Walking"). Indeed as the station keeps growing in orbit, the experiences of future astronauts on that station will be similar, but in some ways probably uniquely different as the ISS adds new capabilities and needs. So this book makes a nice snapshot of life when the station was kept in something of a slightly mothballed state with supplies rationed to maintain the crew on smaller Russian Progress supply flights.

This book more then anything though is about three men, all with very different backgrounds. First up is Ken Bowersox, a military man, veteran of 5 shuttle flights as a pilot astronaut and later commander.
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