Dr. James R. Hansen is Professor of History and Director of the Honors College at Auburn University in Alabama. An expert in the history of science and technology, Hansen has written books and articles covering a wide variety of topics ranging from the early days of aviation, first nuclear fusion reactors, and Moon landings, to the environmental impact of golf courses.
His most recent book, FIRST MAN (Simon & Schuster, 2005), the first and only authorized biography of Neil Armstrong, first man on the Moon, spent three weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list and garnered major book awards, including the American Astronautical Society's Prize for Astronautical Literature, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' Outstanding Book Award, and CHOICE magazine's Outstanding Academic Book of 2006. A two-volume Japanese translation of First Man has been published, with translations into German, Chinese, Turkish, French, and Croatian in progress.
In 1995 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration nominated his book SPACEFLIGHT REVOLUTION for a Pulitzer Prize, the only time NASA has ever made such a nomination. His book FROM THE GROUND UP(1988) won the History Book Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. His scholarship has also been honored with the Robert H. Goddard Award from the National Space Club and certificates of distinction from the Air Force Historical Foundation. His other recent books, THE BIRD IS ON THE WING(Texas A&M University Press) and THE WIND AND BEYOND (NASA) explore the role of aerodynamics in the progress of the airplane in America. The latter is a six-volume series prepared by Hansen and a team of his graduate students for NASA, volume three of which is due to appear in late 2009. In 2005 THE WIND AND BEYOND won the Society for the History of Technology's Eugene Ferguson Prize for Outstanding Reference Work. His newest book, TRUTH, LIES, AND O-RINGS: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE SPACE SHUTTLE CHALLENGER DISASTER was published in May 2009 by the University Press of Florida, with co-author Allan J. McDonald.
A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, he graduated summa cum laude and with Honors from Indiana University. He earned his Ph.D. at The Ohio State University in 1981.