Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight

Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight

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Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
isniffbooks More than 1 year ago
Neil Armstrong was a very private person. And to the best of my knowledge, unlike many of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts, Neil did not personally author anything on his spaceflight experiences. He is also noticeably absent from the In the Shadow of the Moon documentary from 2007.  So this biography penned by Jay Barbree is a real treat, and not just for the subject matter alone, but for Barbree’s credentials. Barbree was a pilot, a close friend of Neil’s, and has a long, outstanding career in spaceflight news reporting. Barbree writes with a true insider’s point of view.  The story is about Neil, of course, but it’s also about the achievements of other test pilots, astronauts, and cosmonauts who paved the way for Neil to be the first man to step on the moon.  Overall, Barbree gives the reader a true sense of being a participant in the activities, whether in  training, up in space, in mission control, or with Neil’s friends and family. This book isn’t just for fans of Neil Armstrong or fans of spaceflight.  It’s for anyone who wants an exhilarating and emotional reading experience.  It’s for armchair explorers who want to relive the nail-biting nervousness and excitement of all those “firsts”  in early manned spaceflight. It’s for anyone who wants to cheer for the USA as NASA rallied to the challenge of Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of 1969.  NASA and its subcontractors accomplished the stuff dreams are made of — all of which culminated with three men leaving Earth in July 1969, traveling nearly 250,000 miles (one way!), and two of them  placing their feet on the moon!!!  If that’s not exciting, then I don’t know what is! I do have some quibbles.  And while my list seems long, my quibbles did not prevent me from enjoying the well-researched and action-packed narrative. 1.  John Glenn’s name is on the front cover as authoring the forward, but it is a half page at best. 2.  I noticed some grammatical errors, missing commas and periods, mainly in the first half of the book.   3.  I’m a huge spaceflight fan , so I didn’t have any problems understanding the lingo used in the book. But a short glossary of airflight and spaceflight terms would have been helpful for others. 5.  And likewise, I wish Barbree explained the importance and purpose of the Gemini program and why Armstrong and Scott’s docking event in Gemini 8 was so significant. 6.  I definitely would have liked more information about Neil’s teaching career, other work, and personal life after he retired from NASA shortly after Apollo 11.  I know the subtitle is “A life in flight,” but Neil was more than just an astronaut although that is how we tend to define him.  7.  In regards to the Challenger tragedy and discovering what went wrong, this chapter seems to focus more on the author’s role, rather than Neil’s. 8.  The book would have had such a stronger and more powerful finish if the narrative stopped at the top of page 349.   I didn’t think the viral e-mail anecdote (which I had never even heard of) added any value at all to the biography.  I don’t even  know why Barbree was motivated to include it since he alludes that the anecdote was an annoyance to Neil. isniffbooks[dot]wordpress[dot]com Disclosure:  I received a complimentary review copy from Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press under Macmillan Publishers.  The opinions are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't know who the author's intended audience was, but this book would be a reasonably entertaining read for un upper elementary - middle school student. It consistently fails to explore deeper issues in Armstrong's life and times. A famously private man, Armstrong seldom revealed much in public about himself. This supposed insider's reveal doesn't fill in any of the blanks, and leaves plenty of gaping holes. Don't bother if you're looking for anything beneath the surface.
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~Wolfpelt