Overview

The Apollo lunar missions of the 1960s and 1970s have been called the last optimistic acts of the twentieth century. Twelve astronauts made this greatest of all journeys and were indelibly marked by it, for better or for worse. Journalist Andrew Smith tracks down the nine surviving members of this elite group to find their answers to the question "Where do you go after you've been to the Moon?"

A thrilling blend of history, reportage, and memoir, Moondust rekindles the hopeful ...

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Moondust

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Overview

The Apollo lunar missions of the 1960s and 1970s have been called the last optimistic acts of the twentieth century. Twelve astronauts made this greatest of all journeys and were indelibly marked by it, for better or for worse. Journalist Andrew Smith tracks down the nine surviving members of this elite group to find their answers to the question "Where do you go after you've been to the Moon?"

A thrilling blend of history, reportage, and memoir, Moondust rekindles the hopeful excitement of an incandescent hour in America's past and captures the bittersweet heroism of those who risked everything to hurl themselves out of the known world -- and who were never again quite able to accept its familiar bounds.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
"Where do you go after you've been to the moon?" For most of us, this question is purely hypothetical, but for 12 Americans, the conundrum was real. Journalist Andrew Smith has tracked down all 9 surviving Apollo lunar astronauts and quizzed them on their giant steps for mankind and the aftermath of this cosmic experience.
Clive Thompson
Historians typically explain Apollo as a simple matter of beating the Soviets and proving American technological superiority. But Smith argues, with some persuasiveness, that the moon shot was not nearly so rational or calculated. It was less a feat of exploration than an awesome piece of public theater, a gesture ''as primitive as song.'' The astronaut Joseph Allen once claimed that the most important part of going to the moon wasn't actually about the moon. It was the act of looking backward at the Earth -- a $24 billion moment of self-reflection, when we finally realized just how tiny our world was. The moment ''that nobody foresaw: a unique opportunity to look at ourselves,'' Smith writes. ''How madly, perfectly human.''
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Between 1969 and 1972, 12 men traveled a quarter-million miles to the moon and returned safely. In this powerful, intimate story, journalist Smith sets out to find these men and discover how that experience changed their lives. Smith, a boy living in a nondescript California subdivision at the time of the Apollo missions and caught up in the endless possibility of space flight, journeys to the halls of power in Washington, D.C., and the backwoods of Texas in search of these mythical figures of American know-how. He finds Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, still cool and confident, a plainspoken man who never let on how close that mission came to disaster. In Gene Cernan, the last man on the Moon, he finds an imperious, driven, highly successful businessman. If all of the men share one affliction, it's fame. Once at the center of the world's attention, these mostly ordinary men with some extraordinary gifts and luck have lived their lives being asked the same question-What was it like "up there"? In an artful blend of memoir and popular history, Smith makes flesh-and-blood people out of icons and reveals the tenderness of his own heart. Agent, Emma Parry. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
WORD magazine
“Moondust is an inspired idea, immaculately executed: witty, affectionate, completely captivating.”
Evening Standard
“A rich mix of cultural history, reportage and personal reflection.”
Sunday Telegraph
“A crisply dramatic account.”
New York Times
“Smith’s book succeeds…because he bungee-cords together so many intriguing digressions.”
Business Week
“Spellbinding…a provocative meditation on lunar travel and humanity’s relation to space.”
Richmond Times Dispatch
“A wild ride swerving between then and now.”
GQ
“Highly entertaining…[Smith’s] superb book is a fitting tribute to a unique band of 20th-century heroes.”
Time Out London
“Riveting...so vivid you can almost smell the suburban lawns.”
Daily Mail (London)
‘Utterly gripping. Smith is both sympathetic and bracingly unsentimental.”
The Observer
“A wonderful collective biography written with deftness, compassion and humour.”
Financial Times
‘Enthralling...Smith is an ideal narrator: sharp-eyed yet increasingly affectionate about his subjects.”
Arthur C. Clarke
“Splendid!”
J. G. Ballard
“Fascinating…We know what happened inside the Apollo, but what went on inside the astronauts’ minds? Extremely thought-provoking.”
Mail on Sunday
“[A] fascinating book… [Smith’s] humour is underpinned by a sense of extreme danger.”
The Guardian
“Forget flower power, the Beatles and Beach Boys…what made the 1960s an unforgettable decade was the conquest of space.”
Uncut (UK)
“An extraordinary book…as profoundly as any work of philosophy.”
GQ
“Highly entertaining…[Smith’s] superb book is a fitting tribute to a unique band of 20th-century heroes.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061909085
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/5/2009
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 762,556
  • File size: 555 KB

Meet the Author

Andrew Smith has worked as a critic and feature writer for the Sunday Times, the Guardian, The Observer, and The Face. He was born in the United States and lives in Norwich, England.

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Table of Contents

Prologue : then there were nine 1
1 Dreaming of a moonage 7
2 The hologram man 24
3 Then there's Buzz Aldrin! : (he can go to the moon, but he can't make coffee) 64
4 The life of Neil 108
5 Paint the dust red 143
6 The quiet stuff 173
7 Luna meets her match 208
8 Sons and lunar modules 234
9 Flight 270
Epilogue : moondust 300
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 26, 2012

    The best book on the meaning of Apollo

    This is a marvelous, soulful meditation on the meaning of Apollo. Author Andrew Smith was interviewing Charlie Duke when Duke received news of Pete Conrad's death in a motorcycle accident -- and suddenly there were only nine men left who walked on the moon. Smith was so moved by this experience that he set out to talk to as many of the surviving moonwalkers as he could. Moondust is the story of Smith's journey. It was a joy to read. Very personal and yet full of insight about Apollo and about the astronauts. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2006

    WAY TOO POLITICAL

    I read about the Apollo program because it makes me feel good about being an american and being a human from Earth. This book is not very informative about what it claims to be about, which i was under the impression it was a 'where are they now?' type of book. Also, the author apparently has an issue with the politics involved in the program. This is not a book about the Apollo program or the astronauts lives since their last missions. This is a book about someone trying to make a few bucks and preach his politics using the Apollo program as a tool to trick people into buying the book. If you enjoy reading about pre-shuttle NASA, i suggest you look elsewhere.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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