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The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story

Average Rating 3.5
( 86 )
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5 Star

(26)

4 Star

(17)

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(18)

2 Star

(15)

1 Star

(10)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

25 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

This is a phenomenal book focusing on the wives of famous astron

This is a phenomenal book focusing on the wives of famous astronauts and their own leakage into the world of fame and high society. I really like Lily Koppel's writing style. She keeps the book moving at a quick pace with well developed characters. It was a sheer joy to...
This is a phenomenal book focusing on the wives of famous astronauts and their own leakage into the world of fame and high society. I really like Lily Koppel's writing style. She keeps the book moving at a quick pace with well developed characters. It was a sheer joy to read.

posted by JesseG1 on June 11, 2013

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Most Helpful Critical Review

15 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

Troubling Yet Readable. This is an

Troubling Yet Readable. This is an entertaining and fast read on a subject that needs to be explored. The women depicted here were--and are--inspiring. Their stories are full of heartbreak, determination, fear, incredible strength, strong ...
Troubling Yet Readable. This is an entertaining and fast read on a subject that needs to be explored. The women depicted here were--and are--inspiring. Their stories are full of heartbreak, determination, fear, incredible strength, strong friendships, and yes, some humor. What they had to go through in dealing with sudden fame, largely single parenting, dealing with the press, living facades of 'perfect' lives in the public eye, coping with astronaut groupies, infidelity...there is an amazing and important book to be written about these women. Sadly, this is not it. I am really stunned editors let this go the way it is. There are errors in it regarding historical events that should have been checked with a three click Google search; there is no established tone or perspective. The author does not seem able to pin down what tone or view she wants to take so for large chunks in the first half this is written in an almost cheesy way, with 'wink winks' to the reader and vastly annoying reliance on the juvenile exclamation point punctuation that, at times, makes the text read like a student essay. The first half of the book, which concentrates on the original Mercury wives, reads as much lighter (despite their experiences with tragedy and trauma) than the second half that seems to take a different tone: darker, more serious. At one point, the events are related through the perspective of Norman Mailer who had been assigned to interview the wives. There is no transition into this--it just happens. Lack of transitions is another stylistic problem; the text moves between more in depth descriptions and then, suddenly, more anecdotal tidbits. You could get whiplash from the leaping from story to story, tone to perspective. As there are ultimately dozens of people to keep up with, this lack of clear structure becomes a greater problem as our subjects become much harder to keep straight. There is no appendix; there is no documentation of who said what or when. Where did all this come from? The author's notes generally mention she had talked to some of the surviving wives; at least one did not take part--but the others 'shared their memories.' There are pages of quotes but whose memories are we reading? I am very surprised endnotes, internal documentation, footnotes--something--were not used to identify and verify research. Finally, the scope of this is WAY too big for a book under 300 pages. These stories and these women deserve their own 'Right Stuff' and for the first half of the book I thought the Mercury wives were going to get it. It is the most thorough and detailed. But once the author brings in the later generations of astronauts and wives...this either needed to be a much longer text or the scope needed to be narrowed to the original wives. If none of these inconsistencies and questions bothers you--this is a fast, entertaining and very beginning glimpse into these remarkable women's contributions. But the really definitive work has yet to be done, I think.

posted by irishclaireKG on June 17, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    This is a phenomenal book focusing on the wives of famous astron

    This is a phenomenal book focusing on the wives of famous astronauts and their own leakage into the world of fame and high society. I really like Lily Koppel's writing style. She keeps the book moving at a quick pace with well developed characters. It was a sheer joy to read.

    25 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 17, 2013

    Troubling Yet Readable. This is an

    Troubling Yet Readable. This is an entertaining and fast read on a subject that needs to be explored. The women depicted here were--and are--inspiring. Their stories are full of heartbreak, determination, fear, incredible strength, strong friendships, and yes, some humor. What they had to go through in dealing with sudden fame, largely single parenting, dealing with the press, living facades of 'perfect' lives in the public eye, coping with astronaut groupies, infidelity...there is an amazing and important book to be written about these women. Sadly, this is not it. I am really stunned editors let this go the way it is. There are errors in it regarding historical events that should have been checked with a three click Google search; there is no established tone or perspective. The author does not seem able to pin down what tone or view she wants to take so for large chunks in the first half this is written in an almost cheesy way, with 'wink winks' to the reader and vastly annoying reliance on the juvenile exclamation point punctuation that, at times, makes the text read like a student essay. The first half of the book, which concentrates on the original Mercury wives, reads as much lighter (despite their experiences with tragedy and trauma) than the second half that seems to take a different tone: darker, more serious. At one point, the events are related through the perspective of Norman Mailer who had been assigned to interview the wives. There is no transition into this--it just happens. Lack of transitions is another stylistic problem; the text moves between more in depth descriptions and then, suddenly, more anecdotal tidbits. You could get whiplash from the leaping from story to story, tone to perspective. As there are ultimately dozens of people to keep up with, this lack of clear structure becomes a greater problem as our subjects become much harder to keep straight. There is no appendix; there is no documentation of who said what or when. Where did all this come from? The author's notes generally mention she had talked to some of the surviving wives; at least one did not take part--but the others 'shared their memories.' There are pages of quotes but whose memories are we reading? I am very surprised endnotes, internal documentation, footnotes--something--were not used to identify and verify research. Finally, the scope of this is WAY too big for a book under 300 pages. These stories and these women deserve their own 'Right Stuff' and for the first half of the book I thought the Mercury wives were going to get it. It is the most thorough and detailed. But once the author brings in the later generations of astronauts and wives...this either needed to be a much longer text or the scope needed to be narrowed to the original wives. If none of these inconsistencies and questions bothers you--this is a fast, entertaining and very beginning glimpse into these remarkable women's contributions. But the really definitive work has yet to be done, I think.

    15 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2013

    Does not have the WRITE stuff...

    This book was not what I expected from a book featured on NPR. Not only is it poorly written and edited but the tone is misogynistic--not unlike Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff which, by comparison, at least made these women seem like human beings. Sad to think that a female "writer" would not take the time to develop these women's stories beyond some superficial research. Shameful that any editor or publisher would allow thiis to be published as it is and to waste readers' money.
    I lived at Edwards AFB during the early space program. My father was an Air Force engineer who worked on the program. These families were at times their neighbors. All of them were involved in something pretty amazing. This book glosses over their achievements and makes a mockery of the program, the astronauts and their wives. They may have been flawed and caught up in something out of their control, but like most military wives they did it with grace. The perks they received could never compensate for the risks they took on and the hard work involved.
    Bottom line: very bad book, pretty much a waste of time and money.

    14 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Once I started it, I couldn't put this book down. It is a real p

    Once I started it, I couldn't put this book down. It is a real page turner. I loved the rich characters and unique plot. Two thumbs up.

    11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2013

    Not sure about this

    I'm still reading this and really want to like it. However, I find myself irritated at the author's emphasis on the wives' appearance or perkiness.

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Disappointed in lack of depth

    I was looking forward to finding out more about a group of women that very little is known about. The book really did not enlighten me any more than I already was. The writing style is breezy and it is a quick, easy read, but the lack of depth was really disappointing.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    I loved this book. It tells the story of what goes on behind the

    I loved this book. It tells the story of what goes on behind the picture perfect image of an astronaut's wife. Very interesting to read. The narrative is easy to follow and filled with fun twists.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2013

    More synopsis than book

    I live in the NASA community and was rather disappointed with this rambling sketch of the lives and experiences of the astronaut wives. The author skips back and forth in time tothepoint of confusion. More time is spent on the Cape Cookies issue than on the character development of the main characters. The issue of faith was glanced over but never to any meaningful extent. Buzz aldrin took the sacraments of holy communion on the moon, something most people dont know because then,as now, it was not considered PC. I would have expected this profound act to have warrented at least a mention.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2013

    Outstanding read

    This outstanding book not only tells of the astronauts' wives' lives after fame hit but also how women lived during those time. What did the wives focus on? How did they present themselves to the public? How were they treated by the press? But it also looks at the pressures they lived under--it is hard enough being a military wife without having to be the perfect military wife. The stories are personal, the candid pictures are good, the press release pictures show a life that no one ever lived.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2013

    The Right Stuff 1.1

    If someone were to set out to write an addendum to Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" using his style, language, and sense of humor, Lily Koppel has done exactly that.

    Having grown up admiring the original Mercury astronauts when I was a teenager, I've enjoyed many of the stories written about them and that era of space exploration. The Astronaut Wives Club is the asterisk "*" on many of Tom Wolfe's stories, or even those in books authored by the astronauts themselves through the years. It includes very honest, informative, and often humorous-to-sorrowful insights to what the wives went through as their husbands had the world watching their every move. It answered questions on many things I've wondered through the years, but also left me curious about new topics that are touched on in this book, but not fully addressed.

    One plus, most books on our astronauts end with Apollo crew members. This one also includes those who flew the Space Shuttle.

    While I enjoyed reading it immensely, I am only giving it 4 stars because I would have liked for the author to have made it twice as long with twice the information. I sincerely wanted to know more from the astronauts wives, especially from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo families. But I support the privacy and respect on certain matters that Lily Koppel gave the families.

    Very well researched, very comfortable reading. If you're a baby boomer, chances are you'll really enjoy this book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2013

    The writing in this book is laughable. More like a high school

    The writing in this book is laughable. More like a high school paper than something written by a journalist. There are anecdotes apropos of nothing.
    This book is nothing if not amateurish. Too bad because I was really looking forward to some character development and really getting to know these women. Instead, they are all written as extensions of their husbands. I wonder if they were even interviewed.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2013

    Interedting and fairly quick read

    Really interesting accounts of the space race and surrounding time period from the homefront's perspective. As a military wife of a Navy pilot, there were some things i could relate to. I thought certain narratives or stories could have been better "fleshed out".

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2013

    I very much enjoyed the book, and would recommend it. That said

    I very much enjoyed the book, and would recommend it. That said... she concentrated on the Mercury 7, and a few members of the following groups. I started to feel that it was rushed as I neared the end. I don't know if there wasn't time or information for the later groups.

    There were some stories I would have liked to know more about... but I suppose time, and privacy, were factors. We don't need to know all the details of their personal lives.

    I wondered what happened to some of the widowed women, and the children. And, the families after it all ended. Interestingly, the women are excluded from wikipedia.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2013

    D Burns

    this is probably the most boring, poorly written book I have ever read. Bar none!! The characters cannot be followed, the plot is tedious, and it gives the reader nothing to look forward to. I rarely do not finish a book. Wish I could return it!!

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2013

    Informative, which is what I was looking for; but written like a

    Informative, which is what I was looking for; but written like a dime novel, which made it disappointing.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2013

    This could have been a wonderful read. I can't believe such a p

    This could have been a wonderful read. I can't believe such a poorly written book was actually published. The author changed subjects mid-paragraph and often left subjects or thoughts undeveloped.
    The wives were portrayed as one-dimensional and clearly weren't. What a disappointment. THere was a terrific story to be told and this book was superficial at best.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel, is to the Space Program

    The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel, is to the Space Program what Laura Hillenbrand and her book Seabiscuit is to horse racing. This book is a light and easy read. I pass it to all my girlfriends. A welcome change from the male "hero tale."

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    I'll just say that I loved this book. I remember the race to the

    I'll just say that I loved this book. I remember the race to the Moon growing up - it was such a part of our lives - but I had no idea about the fascinating story of the astronaut wives. The book brings it all to life as a time capsule that really captures how fabulous (and terrifying!) it was to have a husband picked to go up into space. Highly recommended. 

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2013

    Astronaut wives club

    Great source if historical information from the wives point of view. Interesting look into the women behind the men...

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2013

    This is a very interesting book. I was very young during the ea

    This is a very interesting book. I was very young during the early days of the space program, but I remember sitting at the black and white television when John Glenn orbited the Earth. I had no idea how much publicity these women had to endure. There was so much I didn't know about these first astronauts (especially Alan Shepherd). I felt like the book really captured the times....the role of the wives, the clothes, the visits to the White House, the prominence of Life Magazine, etc. Really enyoyed it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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