Alice George’s superbly written biography provides a fair, accurate, and insightful account of all John Glenn’s careers—as Marine pilot, astronaut, politician, and American hero.” —Michael J. Neufeld, curator at the National Air and Space Museum and author of Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War
“John H. Glenn Jr.—United States Marine, combat pilot, Mercury and shuttle astronaut, US senator from Ohio—a ‘Greatest Generation’ American and hero.” —Rudy deLeon, former Deputy Secretary of Defense
"Today, it seems, we cherish our cinema superheroes, forgetting that people like John Glenn used to walk among us—and probably still do." —Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist American Museum of Natural History, Author of Space Chronicles:Facing the Ultimate Frontier
“Alice George has the ‘Right Stuff’ to tell the amazing tale of this extraordinary fighter pilot, astronaut, and US senator.” —Ron Grimes, John Glenn’s Senate Legislative Director
"A well-informed biography that presents its subject in a golden light." —Kirkus Reviews
"Time’s “Colonel Wonderful” receives a new biographical treatment in The Last American Hero, which positions him as an adventurer, a statesman, and a role model." —Foreword Reviews
"George (Awaiting Armageddon, 2006) scrupulously details Glenn’s transformation from his Ohio farm upbringing." —Booklist
Along with Neil Armstrong, long revered as the first man on the moon, John H. Glenn, Jr. (1921–2016) is arguably one of the most famous and beloved astronauts. Historian George (The Assassination of John F. Kennedy) explores the fascinating life of Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth. From his Norman Rockwell childhood in Ohio, to his daring escapades as a marine fighter pilot during World War II, to his storied career as an astronaut, and to his four-term service as a U.S. senator, the stalwart and amiable husband and father proved time and again that he had the mettle and experience to take on a variety of challenges throughout his life. When he was chosen as part of the first group of astronauts—the Mercury 7—he captured the media spotlight and the public's imagination with his caring manner and his record-breaking space flight, hallmarks of his heroism. VERDICT While Glenn and Nick Taylor's biography John Glenn: A Memoir and Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff offer more details about NASA and Glenn's role in the Space Race, George provides interesting insights into the mark he left on American culture.—Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL
After the first manned orbital flight, an astronaut emerged as a star.
Although historian and news editor George says she does not aim to place astronaut and four-term senator John Glenn (1921-2016) “on a pedestal,” her admiring, often fawning, biography, drawn from oral histories with Glenn and his wife, among many other sources, portrays him unabashedly as an inspiring hero who “made Americans feel proud, honorable, invincible, united.” He was the hero, asserts the author, that the country needed to raise morale and inspire hope during the fractious 1960s. “His all-American good looks, his humility, and his virtuous outlook,” she writes, “combined to make him a heralded representation of clean living and American exceptionalism.” Born in a small town in Ohio, Glenn developed “a profound sense of right and wrong” that distinguished him from other young boys. In high school, “he embraced the ideal of public service,” and as a soldier in World War II, he saw himself as “a tough, self-sacrificing crusader for good in its holy war against evil.” The handsome aviator “who loved his wife, worshipped his God, and served his nation seemed perfect,” George writes, noting that other astronauts grew irritated with his “perfectly choreographed public appearances, his by-the-book behavior, and what they viewed as a ‘holier than thou’ attitude.” They called him “the Boy Scout.” The author recounts in (overly) dramatic detail Glenn’s first manned orbital flight, onlookers’ breathless responses, and the accolades that followed. Inspired by his friend Robert Kennedy, Glenn decided to enter politics, was elected to the Senate in 1974, was considered a possible running mate by Jimmy Carter and Michael Dukakis, and, in 1984, made a bid for the presidency. A weak, disorganized campaign ultimately failed. At the age of 77, he gained a seat on the space shuttle.
A well-informed biography that presents its subject in a golden light.