Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon [NOOK Book]

Overview

Read Craig Nelson's posts on the Penguin Blog.










"Celebrates a bold era when voyaging beyond the Earth was deemed crucial to national security and pride."

-The Wall Street Journal


Restoring the drama, majesty, and sheer improbability of an
American triumph, this is award-winning historian Craig Nelson's definitive and thrilling story of man's first trip to the
moon. At 9:32 a.m. on July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 rocket launched in the presence of more than a million spectators
who had gathered to witness a truly historic event. Through interviews, 23,000 pages of NASA oral histories, and
declassified CIA documents on the space race, Rocket Men presents a vivid narrative of the moon mission,
taking readers on the journey to one of the last frontiers of the human imagination.



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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
"One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." Neil Armstrong's historic words stretched across hundreds of front pages worldwide in July 1969. The success of Apollo 11's lunar mission galvanized world attention as even wars and assassinations had not. Craig Nelson's Rocket Men utilizes a wealth of primary materials including 23,000 pages of NASA oral histories and recently declassified CIA documents to tell the full story of a 20th-century pilgrimage that changed our relationship with the universe.
Thomas Mallon
Among Nelson's achievements is the restoration of a certain grandeur to the moon itself…
—The New York Times
Joel Achenbach
…captures the drama and chaos of July 1969 and the almost unbearable tension of the moon landing…Nelson describes the landing so vividly that the engrossed reader isn't sure that Armstrong and crewmate Buzz Aldrin are going to make it.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, historian Nelson offers a compelling account of the Apollo 11 mission, creating such an authentic retelling that listeners will find themselves sweating the outcome right until the very moment that Neil Armstrong sets foot on the lunar surface. Richard McGonagle delivers a rich and layered performance as he navigates through the mix of interviews, anecdotes and declassified documents and renders the central figures as endearing and heroic as they were in their heyday. A fascinating and compulsive listening experience. A Viking hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 20). (June)
Library Journal

July marks the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. This exhaustively researched history by a history writer (The First Heros) reveals many little-known details about the mission and its astronauts. For example, a recurring problem for NASA was the strong, human-generated odors that permeated its space capsules. The book is also a collective biography of the mission's three astronauts—Neal Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins—and describes how the intensive press coverage affected their families. The mission changed their lives forever, but, later, the fame brought on problems like alcoholism and divorce. Nelson also devotes major sections to a discussion of the history of rocketry, human space flight, and the Space Race. He closes with a poignant, forward-looking analysis of human space exploration and Apollo 11's place in history. VERDICT Sure to appeal to serious space history fans. [See Prepub Alert, LJ3/15/09; out this month from Harmony is Aldrin's Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon.—Ed.]—Jeffrey Beall, Univ. of Colorado Lib., Denver


—Jeffrey Beall
Kirkus Reviews
A thorough recounting-as full in human terms as in scientific and technical detail-of NASA's first manned Moon landing. Ever since that day, Jul. 16, 1969, when the Apollo 11 mission put its lunar module on the surface of the Moon and astronaut Neil Armstrong took the last long step down its ladder, critics have argued the purpose and strategic value of that incredibly daunting, expensive and risky project. In the capable hands of Nelson (Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations, 2006, etc.), however, those arguments simply give way to inspirational history. The event seems strangely remote, something brief and shining-or, as the author quotes one NASA executive, "almost a kind of blip." The author's real achievement is the vivid re-creation of the atmosphere within the program, complete with unsolvable problems, oscillating team morale and serious career envy. For example, astronaut Buzz Aldrin was initially slotted to step first to the surface, but mission commander Armstrong exercised the privilege of rank. The result, the author calculates, negatively affected Aldrin for years afterward. (For more detailed information, see Aldrin's upcoming Magnificent Desolation, 2009.) Nelson also offers lucid insights into the gilded bureaucracy of the space program-NASA's tech-speak often served to isolate the press and public from the complexity of longer odds and much higher risks than outsiders suspected. Nelson capably decodes it as the tale unfolds. He quotes astronaut Michael Collins, who stayed in lunar orbit: "To me, the marvel is that it all worked like clockwork. I almost said, ‘magic.' There might be a little magic mixed up in the back of that big clocksomewhere. Because everything worked as it was supposed to, nobody messed up, and even I didn't make mistakes."The definitive account of a watershed in American history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101057735
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 6/25/2009
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 128,507
  • File size: 531 KB

Meet the Author

Craig Nelson
Craig Nelson is the author of four previous books, including The First Heroes and Let's Get Lost. His writings have appeared in Salon, The New England Review, Blender, Genre, and a host of other publications. He was an editor at HarperCollins, Hyperion, and Random House for almost twenty years and has been profiled by Variety, Interview, Manhattan, Inc., and Time Out.



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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An Interesting and Engaging Look at Apollo 11

    Craig Nelson's story of the first men on the moon is an engaging read. He provides the reader with a thorough background on the politics and Cold War aspects of the Space Race. He also makes a strong attempt to capture the personalities of those in NASA who were responsible for the America's landing on the moon. Nelson's dynamic account goes beyond the beginning, middle, and end of the moon landing. It finishes by asking some thought-provoking questions about why the Space program has not returned to the moon or explored beyond. Rocket Men is a good nonfiction read.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 13, 2009

    an epic achievement!

    "what is the purpose of going to the moon?"
    "what is the purpose of a new baby?" says wernherd von braun, cited in this spectacular book. "We find out in time."

    craig nelson, from the vantage point of the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, answers that question most eloquently and, along the way, evokes the historical, cultural, and scientific forces that made it possible (and even necessary). I was a teenager in 1969, and i well remember that breakthrough moment (and just as vividly, john glenn in space, which we watched on a grainy black-and-white TV in my elementary school classroom). But beyond those memories i've known almost nothing about the space program and its important place in American (and my own) history. Until now.
    Coming in 1969, when our nation was painfully culturally divided, Apollo 11 was probably the one achievement that could unite Americans in pride. (Sure, there were objections: Remember the Gil Scott Heron song deploring the state of our inner cities, punctuated by the refrain, "And whitey's on the moon"?) But looking back at the past four decades, has America done anything else to warrant the same swell of love and gratification from all bands of the political spectrum? I don't think so!
    Beyond reminding us of this greatness, Nelson shows us just how heroic the pioneers of space had to be. Certainly, until i read this book, i had no grasp of the tremendous human dramas that underlay these epic achievements. ROCKET MEN tells the stories of both the scientists and the astronauts of Apollo 11 in realistic (yet romantic) detail that filled me with long overdue admiration and gratitude.
    this book so blew me away that i was surprised to see some negative reviews on here. weirdly they come from scientists, who i'd expect to be glad to hear their usually unsung achievements lionized. how sad that these readers missed not only the forest (the great cultural sweep of this book) and also the trees (the heroes that animate it) because of their microscopic focus on a few blotches on the leaves (details that no average reader cares about AT ALL--in fact, the eyes of most of us glaze over at the technical parts. Too bad for them--and too bad that they're upholding the the UNFAIR stereotype of scientists as data-crunching geeks, aloof from life).
    I gave this book five stars because it is history that can grab you like fiction.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2009

    One of the best books of 2009

    Excellent in all respects, but it is best as a history of the relationship between the Space Race and the Cold War.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2013

    What it's like to shoot for the stars! There's tons of

    What it's like to shoot for the stars!
    There's tons of behind the scenes stuff here. There is plenty of human emoition in what is a "test pilot" world. It becomes easy to understand that there is a lot more going on then some guys flying a rocketship.
    Still, the story comes down to these amazing guys! Hindsight could be telling us we should have picked a different group. Instead, read about the guys we got for the job and you will know we got the absolute "right stuff"!
    Reads quick and keeps moving.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2012

    Good follow up if you liked "The Right Stuff"

    Focused mostly on what made Apollo 11 possible, the book not only explains the technical innovations, but also the political motivations that made the space race a priority for the US.

    Entertaining, reads like a train.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    WOW!!!What an enlightening and excellent read

    Despite needing a small bit of editing, this is one of the best books I have read. Simply put. The detail and research is there - and the writing is there. At times, I felt like I was there in the midst of all the happenings. Wonderful story and Nelson gives it good historical analysis and its just due.

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  • Posted December 23, 2009

    Interesting and enjoyable

    Great book. I enjoyed it from the first to the last page. Supposedly there are some technical errors... well, for the lay public, it's not relevent, and they're not easy to find. The book was well written and researched, and revealing; especially to those of us who only knew of the world that already had walked on the moon. I for one took it for granted, but always wondered why we haven't been back. Now I appreciate it... and still wonder why we haven't been back. As a student of aerospace engineering, I also found this inspiring, and a means of making a connection between my studies and my family, who generally don't follow such things. Made for great conversation on big and little topics with the family, as well as among friends.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2009

    Fantastic

    A fantastic, informative, detailed perspective on getting to the moon.

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  • Posted September 3, 2009

    The other side of the Moon.

    This is a wonderful book. I was so impressed by the 'back story'. I was just a chold when the walk on the moon happened. This book was educational and very interesting looking into the astronauts lives and the situations faced by all, including NASA.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2009

    Technical Errors

    This book has many technical errors, obviously not written by a scientist or engineer. In places,the text is hard to follow.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 15, 2009

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    Posted January 27, 2010

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    Posted January 13, 2010

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