On July 20, 1969, the world stood still to watch 38-year-old American astronaut Neil A. Armstrong become the first person ever to step on the surface of another heavenly body. Perhaps no words in human history became better known than those few he uttered at that historic moment. Upon his return to earth, Armstrong was honored and celebrated for his monumental achievement. He was also -- as James R. Hansen reveals in this fascinating and important biography -- misunderstood. Armstrong's accomplishments as engineer, test ...
On July 20, 1969, the world stood still to watch 38-year-old American astronaut Neil A. Armstrong become the first person ever to step on the surface of another heavenly body. Perhaps no words in human history became better known than those few he uttered at that historic moment. Upon his return to earth, Armstrong was honored and celebrated for his monumental achievement. He was also -- as James R. Hansen reveals in this fascinating and important biography -- misunderstood. Armstrong's accomplishments as engineer, test pilot, and astronaut have long been a matter of record, but Hansen's unprecedented access to private documents and unpublished sources yield this first in-depth analysis of an elusive American celebrity still renowned the world over. In a penetrating exploration of American hero worship, Hansen addresses the complex legacy of the "First Man," as an astronaut and as an individual. In "First Man," the personal, technological, epic, and iconic blend to form this portrait of a great but reluctant hero who will forever be known as history's most famous space traveler.
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This book can almost be considered a technical manual with an occasional sentence thrown in to give it some story value. It really came through for me because I'm pretty much interested in ONLY the technical aspects. Neil was a man of very few words, whose sole interest was in performing his duty with ZERO interest in being famous - and thus, a story from his mouth can't be expected to be colorful - but in a masterpiece of understatement, his simple and direct explanations put you right in the pilot's seat during the second-by-second coverage of the final approach.
Some interesting facts come out; for instance they didn't even have time to look out at the new world until they went through a complete rehearsal of the takeoff procedure, etc. Nice book.
Jan 6, 2011
Good book, but nothing new
First Man is a typical book on the subject of the Apollo moon landings. It's especially good at presenting the unique challenges of the first moon landing.
The only reason to read this book is to get a little understanding into the life and mind of the first moonwalker. Unfortunately, Armstrong did not reveal as much as I would have liked. He has always been good at keeping his thoughts to himself and this book seems to leave more questions than it resolves. For instance, Hansen spent an entire chapter on the life of Armstrong's daughter, Karen, who I'd never heard about. Later in the book, he goes on for page after page discussing whether or not Armstrong took a souvenior of hers with him to the moon. That question is not answered in the book, so why even bring it up?
There are a lot of good things in this book, but it feels incomplete to me.
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