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I've listened to various books detailing the glory days of American space flight looking for the one that would tell the story of the Apollo missions with just the right balance of technical detail, human warmth and...awe. I know that the Apollo astronauts least favourite question was 'What was it like up there?' but of course, I still want to know - and Andrew Chaikin does a fantastic job of telling me.
If you're going to listen to this book here's a tip - search Google for 'Apollo Lunar Surface Journal' on your web browser while you do. It contains every picture from every mission plus word-for-word transcripts of the entire journey. Break out and immerse yourself there and in the full-length capsule recovery videos on YouTube...then come back to the book - you won't regret it!
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
If you have any interest in the History of the Apollo program this book is a must read. Very well researched and written I was disappointed to finish it so soon
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This book chronicles the full set of Apollo missions. It is very broad in scope, which is both a strength and weakness. There were many times that I wanted to know some of these astronauts more deeply as people, and other times I wanted more scientific detail. I realize, though, that the book that gave what I wanted might have been 2-3 times as long, and it already was more than 20 hours! Still, a number of the astronauts were profiled in depth, and this book is full of interesting scientific detail. It is cool that it covers the whole Apollo program. There were so many great parts, with even the slower moving pieces still interesting and easy to listen to. It is hard to write a great book which covers so much, and Chaikin did a pretty good job of it. I quit many audiobooks from boredom, but this had my interest throughout. One other flaw - it felt like the author tried to minimize anything negative about the astronauts, and it had a little bit of a sanitized feel to it. I didn't mind because these astronauts were pretty heroic. Overall, this book was interesting and uplifting, and had a great narrator. I will look at the moon differently now.
23 of 23 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts?
Chaikin's approach to the book, which isn't a straight history of Apollo. This is not a dry, dusty history, but rather a character-driven exploration of the program, with all of its brilliant successes and heart-breaking failures. Nor is it hagiography. The Apollo astronauts are real people, with all the flaws that that entails, and Chaikin does a great job of capturing their strengths as well as their weaknesses.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Though not a "character" in the literary sense: Pete Conrad. The chapter on Apollo 12 is my favorite.
What does Bronson Pinchot bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Superb inflection and a recreation of the astronaut's speaking styles. Pinchot's reading was very nicely done and he does a great job of capturing the personalities of the astronauts. He doesn't try to do impressions, though. It is his interpretation of the astronauts, but accurate ones if you've ever heard one speak.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Yes, but I'm a manned space flight nerd. Your mileage may vary.
41 of 42 people found this review helpful