Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8


Circling the moon at 3,700 miles an hour, a quarter of a million miles from Earth, the captain opened the Bible and began to read. "In the beginning God created heaven and earth..." Sweeping past the three astronauts was a stark black and white terrain, cold and forbidding. Unseen but listening intently was an audience of more than a billion people.

It was Christmas Eve, 1968. And the astronauts of Apollo 8 -- Captain Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders -- were ...

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Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8

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Circling the moon at 3,700 miles an hour, a quarter of a million miles from Earth, the captain opened the Bible and began to read. "In the beginning God created heaven and earth..." Sweeping past the three astronauts was a stark black and white terrain, cold and forbidding. Unseen but listening intently was an audience of more than a billion people.

It was Christmas Eve, 1968. And the astronauts of Apollo 8 -- Captain Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders -- were participants in a mission that took them farther (500,000 miles) and faster (24,000 miles an hour) than any human had ever traveled. Of the 27 previous manned launches, none had ever ventured higher than 850 miles in altitude. Apollo 8 was the mission that broke humanity's bond to the earth: it was the first manned vehicle to leave the earth's orbit. Although it did not land there, Apollo 8 was the first craft to orbit the moon.

Confined within a tiny 11x13-foot spaceship -- the size of the interior of a 15-passenger van -- the astronauts were aided in their journey by a computer less powerful than the least sophisticated handheld calculator available today. The mission ended flawlesly. It was a triumph for America and its space agency, and assured the public's continued interest in exploring space. Genesis is thr true story of human character at its most inspiring.

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Editorial Reviews

Americans living in the late 1960s went through the most exciting days of space exploration. Astronauts were more famous than rock stars, and the world eagerly followed each venture beyond the Earth's atmosphere. Apollo 11 was the logical climax to the great Space Race, and Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin certainly deserve their immortality as the first humans ever to walk the surface of the Moon. An earlier mission, however, generated fully as much excitement, and is remembered even more fondly. When Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders splashed down safely after circling the Moon in December 1968, they provided an upbeat ending to a ghastly year of assassinations, riots, and social unrest. More importantly, their flight marked the first time that humans had ever escaped from the Earth's gravity well. All of mankind seemed to hold its breath during the long minutes while the spacecraft was out of contact beyond the far side of the Moon. The three astronauts not only proved that a manned landing on the Moon was possible, but also brought back the first photographs showing Earth in its true perspective: a lovely blue marble in the black immensity of outer space. It was Frank Borman, however, who gave the world its most unforgettable moment when, on Christmas Eve, he slowly began to read: "In the beginning" Robert Zimmerman is a filmmaker who has written extensively on space and astronomy subjects. He has done an excellent job here, giving us a richly anecdotal account of the mission that nicely balances rocket science with the human element. He never lets the story get bogged down in melodrama, however, and is skilled in making all of the engineering and technologyunderstandable to the average reader. Best of all, he puts the story of Apollo 8 into the perspective of the times. This is probably the best writing on the space program since Michael Collins' Carrying the Fire. KLIATT Codes: JSA*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1998, Dell, 350p, 18cm, illus, notes, bibliog, index, $6.99. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Raymond L. Puffer; Ph.D., Historian, Edwards Air Force Base, CA, May 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 3)
Library Journal
Zimmerman, who writes for the Sciences, Astronomy, and the Wall Street Journal, tells the story of the three astronauts involved in the "first manned flight to another world" as we approach its 30th anniversary. The story is well told in the astronauts' own words and through interviews with their wives and children. The sections covering selected events and personages of the Cold War and the 1960s provide a unique perspective; the role of religion in the astronauts' lives is an important theme not found elsewhere. While Apollo 8 is included in many other books on the Apollo program, Zimmerman's work is the first to cover this flight alone and to stress its monumental significance as the most important Apollo mission. A strong purchase for all academic and public libraries.--Dale Ebersole, Carlson Lib., Univ. of Toledo, OH
An account of the 1968 Apollo 8 mission to the moon, weaving details of the mission into the saga of the three astronauts' careers, family lives, and the emotional and spiritual after-effects of their historic journey. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
The year 1968 is memorable for any number of reasons, science writer Zimmerman reminds us, not the least of which was the historic flight of Apollo 8, the first manned space flight to slip out of Earth's gravitational tethers. Apollo 8, with Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders aboard, blasted off in late December of 1968, its intention to journey beyond Earth's orbit, slip into a lunar orbit, then escape again, and return. Its success was a momentous occasion—-the frontiers of space had been effectively pushed out, way out—-although it was overshadowed six months later by the actual lunar landing. Zimmerman, a science and technology writer who has contributed to American Heritage, the Sciences, and other publications, has chosen two aspects of the Apollo 8 mission to emphasize. First, he depicts a space program then still the venue of the hero/ace pilot who, sacrificing family priorities and personal safety, was the Cold Warrior nonpareil. In relating this, Zimmerman situates the flight within the context of that electrifying and appalling year the Tet Offensive, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, student uprisings, the Chicago Democratic convention, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, when more than a spacecraft appeared to be spinning out of orbit. Zimmerman keeps in check this potentially hyperbolic drama, giving it a nice steady rhythm, but he loses that touch when he goes after his second theme, attempting to infuse the event with righteousness. It showed the world, Zimmerman claims, an "American vision of moral individuality, religious tolerance and mutual respect," though it's difficult to see the space race as an expression ofsuch respect or to decipher the meaning of "moral individuality" in this context.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440235569
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/2000
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 4.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction xi
Timeline xv
1. "Get a Picture of It." 1
2. "We Will Bury You!" 21
3. "That Earth Is Sure Looking Small." 57
4. "We Stand for Freedom." 82
5. "Welcome to the Moon's Sphere." 105
6. Hugging the Coast 119
7. "Hey, I Got the Moon!" 147
8. "Settle This by Nightfall." 165
Apollo 1
Soyuz 1
Saturn 5
9. "There's a Beautiful Earth Out There." 190
10. "Why Don't You Begin at the Beginning?" 212
Apollo 8
11. Pilgrims to the Moon 238
12. "American Cheese" 250
13. That Was Then 271
The Squares
14. This Is Now 290
Notes 309
Editorial Minutiae and Glossary 322
Bibliography 325
Index 337
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2004

    Space history at its best!

    In Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8: The First Manned Flight to Another World by Robert Zimmerman, the reader comes to understand the comprehensive and far ranging significance, importance, value, and necessity of space exploration, development, and travel. Space is many things to many people, ranging from a government program, to excitement and adventure, to scientific exploration, to business opportunities and more. In Genesis, Zimmerman shows us how Apollo 8 paved the way for all humanity to learn from its history and begin the process of moving off Earth. The author accurately reports on the significance of the timing and the Cold War influences of Apollo 8 . While most space history books reporting on Apollo 8 do so factually and accurately, Zimmerman goes much deeper. He correctly identifies Apollo 8's broad ranging impact on our space program, society, and our nation's history. Zimmerman properly reports on the historical nature of the flight and the Christmas reading/message of the Apollo 8 crew . Zimmerman also recognizes the power represented by the actions of the Apollo crew that Christmas eve in 1968. That subtle power has contributed to our humanity, national space program, and our movement towards becoming a space-faring society. While some may be uncomfortable with Zimmerman's multi-dimensional and historical assessment of Apollo 8, I find his approach to this unique historical event in all history to be compelling! Reading Genesis has certainly enabled me to connect our place in space with our worldliness and spirituality. I see no reason to separate this historical event from these personal relationships and our future. This is an excellent book which I strongly recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2003

    The history of the time of Apollo 13

    This book help me learn more about what the times where like at the time of Apollo's launch, and how the complicated the world was at the time. It also gave me a closer look at my choosen future profession, being an astronuat and how those three man were cramed into a small capsule for almost five months. This book was a little confuseing at times, but mainly it gave great insights of the three men.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2000

    good but not great!

    this is a good story but not great! I am very interested in this type of storyline. It was amazing.

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