Title: A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts
Author: Andrew Chaikin
Release Date: August 29, 2007
Genre: Non-Fiction, NASA/Space
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
One of the most comprehensive accounts of the Apollo program available today, Andrew Chaikin delivers the history of this awe-inspiring period and relates to the reader how the great feat of putting a man on the moon was accomplished. Chaikin presents the story as not only that of the astronauts who made the voyages, but also of those left behind, from the men in Mission Control to the engineers who worked tirelessly to ensure that our moonships were safe enough to ferry three men from the earth to the moon.
One of my favorite TV series ever produced is From the Earth to the Moon, a miniseries that focused on the Apollo program and our attempts to land men on the moon and return them safely to Earth. The acting is superb and the story told is so compelling and gripping, that I can happily watch this series again and again. One thing that always struck me about the series is the quality of the stories, the way it focused on unexpected issues like the difficulty in building the lunar module (LM) or the astronauts’ crash course in geology. Therefore, I decided that I needed to read the book the series was based on in order to see where Chaikin got his information as well as how broad his book was.
I must say, I was thoroughly impressed with A Man on the Moon. It’s clear Chaikin exhausted all the resources available to him. He spoke with dozens of astronauts; the astronauts themselves have called it the definitive account of the Apollo program, and having read many books on the subject, I certainly agree. Chaikin really gets under the surface of the program; he discusses every [possible aspect of he flights, rewarding the reader with inside stories and wonderful details to illustrate the humanity of the story. He never goes overboard and drags the reader down with useless information, a delicate but important balance
A Man on the Moon is told in a narrative non-fiction style, and it really doesn’t read like non-fiction. With a book of this size and the incredible scope it covers, readers might assume that the book, while rewarding, is dense and difficult to read. However, this is not the case at all. It is so easy to immerse yourself in Chaikin’s story. Not only does he tell it in an incredibly engaging way, but he gives the astronauts personalities and tries to let the reader get to know them. It’s incredibly well done and surprising, to say the least.
Interested readers might be daunted by the length of The Man on the Moon and while I certainly can’t blame them (it’s a large part of the reason t took me so long to pick up the book), I hope I have at least somewhat calmed their fears through this review. There’s a very good reason that this book is one of the most popular about America’s efforts to put a man on the moon; it’s brilliant, easy to read, and incredibly interesting. Whether you’re a seasoned Apollo program reader, like me, or just want a comprehensive introduction, this is an amazing book to pick up. I can’t recommend it highly enough.