The Russians and the Americans were like two brothers, always trying to outdo the other and come in first. At times, in their race to space, the Russians would pull ahead, only to have the Americans hot on their heels. On April 12, 1961 "Americans once again felt the sting of being second best" when Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth via his spaceship, Vostok. Projects Mercury and Gemini set the stage for the success of Project Apollo, but there were lists of things that had to be accomplished and the real race was on.
Gus Grissom, one of three astronauts slated to be on the "first manned Apollo flight," Apollo One, was becoming more and more frustrated with the "communication problems" the project was having. "How are we going to get to the moon if we can't talk between two buildings?" He had a point there. This ill-fated mission never got off the ground when a disastrous fire on the launchpad took the lives of the crew in a horrifying manner. The next five missions were unpiloted and everyone was cautious. Even the Russians lost Vladimir Komarov. Were we really ready to tempt fate and head to the moon?
The race was now on in earnest. This book covers each manned Apollo mission in a vibrant, thrilling manner touching on history while including the viewpoints as many people involved in the project as possible. The emotional cast of the book ranges from heartbreak to humor to ecstasy. In the front of the book there is an illustration and overview of the Apollo spacecraft. Early on there is a two-page spread on both the Mercury and Gemini Missions outlining the crew, the duration of the flight and their achievements.
This book is absolutely marvelous! The stunning full color art work by former Apollo 12 lunar module pilot, Alan Bean, will blow you away. The writing quickly draws the reader in. Even the most reluctant reader will make it to the end. Dozens of people were interviewed for this book, including Apollo astronauts, flight directors, controllers and many other people who played a part in the Apollo Project. There are numerous photographs, fantastic sidebars, an index and additional recommended book and web site resources. This is one book you definitely won't be able to resist buying!