2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2002
It had been a long time since I first saw the Apollo 13 movie and it was on TV, so I stopped and watched (and didn't move again until it was finished). The movie was fascinating, and it really triggered an interest to know more about what actually happened. With the limited time format in a movie to convey the technical information and the science behind 'slingshotting' the Apollo spacecraft around the moon, it was difficult to the full impact of the immense effort to get these men back safely. So when I had an opportunity to get the book, I did.
I think this is the first time I've read a book and seen a movie that were both excellent. The movie did the best possible job in a limited time to convey the urgency. The book, which is filled with the conversations of the astronauts with NASA space center, as well as the innovation behind the scenes of all the men involved (and the companies) is absolute 'must' reading for anyone who wants to understand the science and engineering behind this almost-disaster. I beg to differ with the men who felt they had failed, including Lovell who did not get to land on the moon. Without the knowledge they gained from this flight, more people may have died...and it certainly advanced knowledge and understanding for space flight for the rest of us left on earth below.
This is an incredible story and an well-written book. I could hardly put the thing down, and this is not an area of expertise or interest for me usually. It's a little hard to keep the names and people straight, because so many were involved. But it is worth the effort. This is an excellent book to give to students interested in space or engineering. I could see requiring this book to be read in science classrooms, showing the movie, and then having the students get more involved in the actual science, such as calculations of distances...map/reliefs of why the moon for a slingshot effect, etc.
Great stuff, and for once, great men who truly can be called heroes (both on the earth and in space). A means of teaching that true heroes are those who use their minds and actually 'do' something that has an impact for good.
University of Pittsburgh
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2001
I don't want to repeat all of the well-deserved accolades in the other reviews, but knowing how these kinds of co-authored books really are written, it appears that most of the credit for the marvelous, engrossing writing style of Apollo 13 goes to its co-author, Jeffrey Kluger. Astronaut Jim Lovell provides Mr. Kluger with lots of information and leads to information, but Kluger was the one who put it all together in this magnificent book. As one who has followed his other writings, too, I must say that Kluger deserves recognition as one of the best writers of our era, particularly in his facile ability to explain complicated scientific information to a lay audience. Read Kluger's later book, "Journey Beyond Selene" (being rereleased in paperback as "Moon Hunters"), and you will know even better what I mean.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2001
Most of the other first person accounts from ex-astronauts are mearly a re-hashing of their careers, but I think that Jim Lovell must be the one true "story-teller" amoung the former Apollo astronauts. That virtue plus his inclusion of the Misiion Control transcripts from Apollo 13 make this story stand out from the rest (it also doesn't hurt to have an amazing story to tell like the near disaster of Apollo 13!). If you're like me and think that the people in Mission Control and their roles are as important as the astronouts, than you'll love this book. Read this before any of the other astronaut stories and I'll bet that you agree that this is the best one...
on November 26, 2000
Did you see the movie and wonder some things? Like what WAS that PC+2 burn they kept talking about in the movie? (A burn to speed up the ship that occured 2 hours after the craft reached the pericynthion of its orbit, or the closest point the craft came to the moon) Did that seat-of-the-pants burn that was shown actually occur? (Yes, it did, but only lasted 14 seconds instead of the 30 in the movie) Did Jim Lovell really tell his wife that they were not going to Acupulco (sic) but instead the moon? (Yes, but during Apollo 8)
Just as engaging as the (wonderful) movie and twice as informative (not that the movie WASN'T, just that the book lasts longer then the movie), this book is a great read even if you are not into the Apollo era. It is filled with ironic humor ("...Apollo 13, so the Houston guys now had it, would be coming home on the afternoon of April 17 - or perhaps on the evening of the seventeenth, or perhaps sometime on the eighteenth - and would be splashing down in the South Pacific - or perhaps the Indian Ocean, or perhaps the Atlantic.") and loads of information, which make the movie look like it tells you nothing. Information is included on the trans-lunar injection simply mentioned in the movie (which got Apollo 13 going towards the moon), the PC+2 burn, an explosion of one of the betteries in the LEM, yet another quick burn about 5 hours before reentry, and a description of why the explosion occured that is far more satisfying then what was offered in the movie.
See the movie, then read the book. Then see the movie again. And enjoy. :)
on November 7, 2000
Let me start off by saying that I do NOT understand Orbital Mechanics and Quantum Physics or what Gimbal Lock is...however after reading 'Apollo 13' I felt as though I STILL didn't know... but could fake it if I had to. I have been utterly facinated with the moon landings ever since watching TV in '69 and seeing the entire planet rivited on what a couple Americans were doing a quater-million miles away from earth. It STILL facinates me. This story of the ONLY moon-shot that didn't make it is as dramatic as anything you could possibly read. I assume most everyone saw the movie (which SHOULD have won Ron Howard an Academy Award for Best Director) and as good as it was, they left out SO MUCH of what ELSE went wrong on that voyage. After reading I kept thinking, 'Is this an exercise in whatever CAN go wrong WILL go wrong?' I am SO amazed that these men made it back to earth despite being stuck in a crippled spacecraft with NO possible chance of a rescue mission. It really was the collective efforts of hundreds of people that made it all happen. Despite the fact that these men did NOT land on the moon, it really was an incredible story of how a large group of people working together can truly do heroic things. I encourage ANYONE who found the movie interesting to pick this book up and get a chance to find out the WHOLE story...trust me, there was simply NO WAY to bring it all to the silver screen (not without making it a mini-series anyway) and do it justice. It's an inspiring and sometimes terrifying tale, even though you KNOW how it all ends. It gave me even more respect for those who not just gave their life for the chance to explore space, but made me proud to be an American--now I KNOW that sounds cliche, but it's the only way to describe how incredibly amazed I was at this fantastic story. They say truth IS stranger than fiction, and well this story WASN'T strange, it certainly WAS a LOT more dramatic.
on October 18, 2000
Apollo 13 is one of History's great voyages regardless of how long one extends the time frame into the past. If the mission had transpired faultlessly, it still would have qualified for the astonishing, remarkable, achievement it would have been. With the malfunctions that cascaded upon the 3 crewmen, they, together with the men and women on the ground, created their own miracle when the splashdown with the 3 crewmembers was completed. The return, in spite of the overwhelming odds that were against them, places this trip in category of great human achievement, even as it is hoped it never need be repeated.
One fact helped to put the trip into perspective for me. If you have a hand held calculator nearby, pick it up. The chances are the computing power you hold in your hand surpasses that available to the crew in their effort to come home. The movie demonstrated this with slid rules and math completed with paper and pencil. The whole event is almost unimaginable.
The book is worth reading because as hard as it may be to fathom, the actual trip was even more hazardous, the problems even more numerous than the movie portrayed. I am not suggesting the movie was flawed, only that it was limited by time for telling the entire story.
I met Mr. John L. Swigert when I was quite young. My memories are limited but I have a picture that was taken with him that is a treasure. Several years ago I heard Mr. Jim Lovell speak, and his remarks confirmed that the actual trip held hazards the movie did not depict. As he related parts of the story the impression was of a man who was always in control, a leader, and utterly confident in the men he flew with, and those they relied so heavily with on the ground. There was nothing about him that gave the impression that what he did was special. He is part of that "Greatest Generation", and he represents that group faultlessly.
I was able to meet him after the dinner, and I had my photo of Mr. Swigert with me. He was as cordial as anyone could be. There was no artifice about him, no sense that he was special. He took time to chat both with me, and a young man who also was at the dinner.
Speaking and listening to him, you felt that you were in the presence of someone who was unique, not only for his remarkable career in the service of his Country, but for the man he was. He is a hero. I cannot describe the feeling of speaking with him, but I hope everyone has a chance to meet such a man. When you stand next to him, you stand next to History in all its splendor and modesty.
The book tells a story that happened only once, and cannot happen the same way again. If you were on the edge of your seat during the movie, the book is no different. If you feel lightheaded, it's because you have forgotten to breathe.
on January 27, 2000
If you have not read this book, what are you waiting for? It is a fascinating look at America's space program - how it worked, what went wrong, and who was involved. If action is what you are looking for, READ IT! Do you love suspense? READ IT! Do you remember when it happened? READ IT! If you ever had a dream and saw it crash, READ THIS BOOK! Jim Lovell missed the moon and made history anyway. If you love a good book, READ IT! Reviewer: Daniel Krupnik from Tel Aviv , ISRAEL. April 5, 1999 In 1970 , jun lovell and his crew ware the team of Apollo 13, the third flight that we thot will land on the moon , and tried to do so. The crew of thie flight experincd a problem A MAJOR problem with apollo 13. This book will make you stay all night , thinking and trying to imagine what happend there , 29 years ago , up in space. It makes you think about all the Apollo program And wounder about all the apollo , moon and space prgram's. Thie book is full of informition and it will glue you to the seat. This is one of the best books I have ever read. It's written by an experienced astronaut who has been to space many times. The book is about Apollo 13 which was intended to land on Fra Mauro but in the evening on the first day in space the crew are assigned to "stir up their cryo tanks". Then it happens: The crew hear a large BANG and they tell Houston: -Houston, we've had a problem. They find out that they have a "Main B bus undervolt" and that they are venting something. Later they find out that it is the oxygen that is venting. The lunar module is built to keep two men alive for just two days, but now there are three men and four days home. The crew at Ground Control start to work on the problem. After a while they find that it will be to much carbon dioxide in the module so the crew on the ground control have to star working on that problem too. After a while they have built a filter that they want the crew in Apollo 13 to build. At least they succeed to keep themselves alive and they splash down in the Pacific Ocean. When they are onboard the ship they go for medical tests. It shows that Fred Haise has got a heavy fever. The crew are honored with the `Medal of Freedom`
on January 21, 1997
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It's written by an experienced astronaut who has been to space many times. The book is about Apollo 13 which was intended to land on Fra Mauro but in the evening on the first day in space the crew are assigned to "stir up their cryo tanks".
Then it happens: The crew hear a large BANG and they tell Houston:
-Houston, we've had a problem.
They find out that they have a "Main B bus undervolt"
and that they are venting something. Later they find out that it is the oxygen that is venting. The lunar module is built to keep two men alive for just two days, but now there are three men and four days home. The crew at Ground Control start to work on the problem. After a while they find that it will be to much carbon dioxide in the module so the crew on the ground control have to star working on that problem too. After a while they have built a filter that they want the crew in Apollo 13 to build. At least they succeed
to keep themselves alive and they splash down in the Pacific Ocean. When they are onboard the ship they go for medical tests. It shows that Fred Haise has got a heavy fever. The crew are honored with the `Medal of Freedom`
on April 19, 2003
I listened to the audio version (abridged) of this book. It is an incredible story, about incredible men, facing incredible odds. The chances of getting back to earth after Apollo 13 encountered her "problem" were very low. It was the brains of NASA ("work the problem people") and the cool demeanor of the three astronauts, who were under incredible stress, that made the successful return possible.
The audio version was incredible. The narrator was very good and they incorporated actual transmissions from Apollo 13 which gave the listening experience an authenic touch. Jim Lovell read certain parts of the book and that also gave the audio book a more personal touch. I think some of the more technical aspects of the book were easier to absorb in an audio format.
Overall, a great story of heroic achievment for the American space program. Apollo 13 may not have made it to the moon, but they made it home, when home seemed very far away.
on December 1, 1999
I picked up this book thinking it would be more or less a synopsis of the events portrayed in the movie. Much to my enjoyment that was not the case at all. This book is a thorough history of the events surrounding the mission of Apollo 13. It contains a good bit of historical perspecive of the programs leading up to the Apollo missions themselves (Mercury and Gemini) as well as the "inner thoughts" of many involved with the space program. It is relatively even handed in its portrayal of NASA -- although at least partially penned by Jim Lovell, it is willing to point out the weaknesess in the program.
A very enjoyable story, as well as a look at our space program's history.