Customer Reviews


74 Reviews
5 star:
 (42)
4 star:
 (22)
3 star:
 (5)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read after reading all the astronauts' books.
Gene Kranz's book tells a similar story, as told in books by Eugene Cerman, Scott Carpenter, and Chris Kraft, without being dominated by the author's ego. The others wrote good books. But Kranz avoids using personal attacks to tell his tale. The antidotes differ from those in other stories, as Kranz does not have a Boy Scout image to preserve. However, Kranz covers...
Published on Feb. 4 2004 by Eric B. Smith

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Failure Is Not An Option
In Gene Krantz's book you do get an interesting depiction of life behind the scenes during all of NASA's spectacular successes and failures. His writing technique is the limiting factor that prevents this book from really grabbing the reader. The other problem is the alternative sources of information concerning the period particularly The Right Stuff and Apollo 13...
Published on May 24 2000 by Pablo E. Aguirre


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read after reading all the astronauts' books., Feb. 4 2004
By 
Eric B. Smith (NE Iowa) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond (Hardcover)
Gene Kranz's book tells a similar story, as told in books by Eugene Cerman, Scott Carpenter, and Chris Kraft, without being dominated by the author's ego. The others wrote good books. But Kranz avoids using personal attacks to tell his tale. The antidotes differ from those in other stories, as Kranz does not have a Boy Scout image to preserve. However, Kranz covers mission control only through Apollo 17.
This book is an excellent story of the space race from the ground.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Mercury to Apollo: the inside scoop on the US space program, Sept. 14 2003
By 
Govindan Nair (Vienna, VA United States) - See all my reviews
In my boyhoood, I collected news clippings of space flights like some others collected stamps. While I knew of the the complete or near-disasters of Apollo 1 and 13 which never escaped media attention, I could not imagine how many more instances of nervous questions there were on the ground at Mission Control Center (MCC) during many of the celebrated successful space shots.
Gene Kranz's book provides an insider's view into the inner workings of MCC, all the way from the Mercury program to the final Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Probably better suited than almost any one else to tell this story on how things looked from the ground, Kranz worked his career in NASA up to Flight Director, including for the memorable Apollo 11 and 13 flights which provide some of the most dramatic passages in the book. While the world savored the euphoria of the first men landing on the moon, Kranz tells of how he and his team were worrying about near fatal computer problems with the lunar lander. Most readers will be familiar with the Apollo 13 episode which was well enacted on the big screen with Tom Hanks , but Kranz's book provides some of the finer detail that the movie misses.
The book not only provides flight details of the manned spaced shots, but discuss some of the important management and technical issues which need to be resolved to move from Mercury through Gemini and Apollo. Kranz's epilogue concludes with some of his broader observatons and recommendations for future space policy.
Readers will be struck by the authoritarian and disciplined management style in the program, which Kranz does not easily hide. The author would probably have done well to use a ghostwriter or good editor. But apart from its prose which lacks elegance and an easy flow, this book provides an illuminating insight into how such a complex management feat was accomplished.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond, Aug. 7 2002
By A Customer
When the heroic American astronauts of the '60s and '70s inquired, "Houston, do you read?" it was often Krantz's team who answered from the ground. Veteran NASA flight controller Krantz (portrayed by Ed Harris in the film Apollo 13) has written a personable memoir, one that follows his and NASA's careers from the start of the space race through "the last lunar strike," Apollo 17 (1972-1973). Krantz's story opens in the world of the first U.S. space scientists, of exploding Mercury-Atlas rockets, flaming escape towers and "the first rule of flight control": "If you don't know what to do, don't do anything!" Its climax is Apollo 13, with Krantz serving as "lead flight director" and helping to save the trapped astronauts' lives. His account of that barely averted disaster evokes the adrenalized mood of the flight controllers and the technical problems ("gimbal lock," oxygen status, return trajectories) that had to be solved for the astronauts to survive. Elsewhere in these often-gripping pages we learn of the quarrels that almost derailed Gemini 9A's spacewalk; "the best leaders the program ever had," among them George Mueller, who revived NASA after a 1966 launchpad fire; the forest of internal acronyms and argot ("Go-NoGo," "all-up," EVA, the Trench, CSM, GNC, FIDO, RETRO, GUIDO); and the combination of teamwork and expertise that made the moon landings possible. Plenty of books (and several films) have already tried to depict the space program's excitement; few of their creators had the first-person experience or the attention to detail Krantz has, whose role as flight control "White" his readers will admire or even wish to emulate.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars This is the kind of book you want to like., July 11 2002
This review is from: Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond (Hardcover)
"They made it look easy," said a reviewer for another Apollo book, and it's true. When I was a kid, I loved to watch the space program - I realized it was dangerous - but the sheer amount of hard work needed to pull it off never dawned on me. This is a book by one of the guys who made it look easy.
The author seems pretty straight-up, dedicated, hard working, decent.
The topic is interesting, and the author well-placed to describe the inner workings of the space program.
I love that he wrote the book himself, without the polish of a ghostwriter. Seems like unabashed, unvarnished straight goods.
Perversely, the lack of polish is probably the book's biggest drawback.
However there are lots of interesting goodies about Mercury and Gemini, in addition to Apollo.
Also, I never realized how important a military background seemed to be in the program. It was a civilian program, but a good number of people seemed to have been ex-military. I found myself wondering how I would shape up.
I had a good chuckle with some of his comments on engineers - I'm sure I've given the same "non-answers" myself many times.
Some slight negatives:
I thought he might have described some of the background information better.
I was looking for some idea of how NASA was organized - how did they manage to pull off something so complex? The book doesn't spend a lot of time explaining job titles and such - which at first, seemed frustrating - but maybe that is the answer, that organizational charts and bureaucracy don't really matter - dedication and competency do matter.
Curiously, post-Apollo events get little coverage, but many other books have the same fault. I would look forward to seeing a post-Apollo book by the same author.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A great account from the inside. Super stuff!, July 8 2002
By 
Jack W. Crenshaw "bird lover" (Saint Johns, FL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
No one who saw "Apollo 13" can forget the heroic image of Ed Harris, as the man in the white vest, who held the team of Apollo controllers together and made the safe return of the three astronauts happen, against all odds. Now read the true account, written by the real hero, whose story is even more heroic than you dreamed.
I myself got in on the ground floor, joining NASA in 1959 to help send men to the Moon. It was my life's work for the next 10-12 years. But I had no idea what Chris Kraft and Gene Kranz were doing, and only the vaguest notion of the flight control center they helped to create. What they did was nothing less than to create a whole new engineering discipline: that of the space flight controller. It was a monumental achievement, one that changed history. It also took a level of dedication to excellence and to purpose that few humans in the history of mankind have ever experienced.
Everyone needs to read this book, if for no other reason than to understand the things mankind is capable of, when we set our minds to it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Unique perspective, Feb. 23 2002
By 
I have read a number of the "Moon" books. As for the actual writing style, I put it in the "middle" category, this book is unique in its perspective, as it focusses on the MCC Mission Control Center and the flight controllers, instead of the astronauts and the moon.
Kranz thankfully spares us long anecdotes about his upbringing or his personal life. Whether this is to keep it personal, or because he thinks we arent' interested, I don't know, but I appreciate it. A book like this, I don't want to be bogged down in background info.
Kranz was one of the very first controllers, brought in under Chris Kraft from day one. He worked in the control room from Mercury, Gemini, and the Apollo program. When he tells the stories of these missions, it's not all about the astronauts, or even necessarily about the mission. It's often about the problems they encountered, and how they solved them. This perspective is unique in the "moon books". It is most interesting in the Apollo 13 crisis, but also Apollo 1, John Glenn's Mercury mission, and even "routine" missions (is sending a human hurtling into outer space ever routine?) have glitches that he explains how they solve. It's engaging reading, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
By far the best coverage and most comprehensive analysis is of the solving of the Apollo 13 crisis. The title, Failure is Not an Option, was an apocryphal attribution to Kranz, but it is one that he still titles his book with, as it sums up his view of life in MCC. You will also get a better feel about the "behind the scenes" workings at NASA, and in the end, he gives his views how to revitalize that interest and get to Mars, and beyond.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Putting on the Vest, Feb. 3 2002
By 
Peter Mackay "surgeonsmate" (Campbell, ACT Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond (Hardcover)
Gene Krantz, that rock-solid, buzz-haired epitome of flight controllers has at last put down his stories of the most exciting decade of spaceflight ever. The decade when the USA went from being an also-ran to defining space travel for the world. And Gene Krantz was there from the time they poured the foundations of NASA's Houston complex to the moment that Neil Armstrong set foot upon the Moon.
And beyond. The Apollo 13 crisis is perhaps the flight that sums up Gene Krantz. Failure is not an option, he declared and for a week while the world sat on the edges of their seats and three astronauts soared on the edge of a lonely distant death, Gene Krantz and his team planned and struggled and worked to bring them home safely.
What a triumph that was when they finally splashed down, and Gene lit up his cigar, wearing his famous vest. There were tears of triumph in his eyes and mine as I relived those days and shared the emotions.
Triumph. That is the word that I associate with Gene.
His book is his essence distilled. Four-square, no-nonsense, straight up and down. He did his job, he will tell you. No more, no less. Yet if you read between the lines you will see an extraordinary dedication to his job. Even more extraordinary when you consider that dedication was the norm for a whole generation of aerospace engineers. Gene surpassed them all.
OK. Enough of the flag-waving. It's that sort of book, full of pride and emotion. It's also chock full of anecdotes, stories, character observations and behind-the scenes glimpses of the man who was Flight.
I'd give it five stars, but for the fact that it's a little dry, a little restrained, a little too straight up and down. But I don't think it's in Gene to be relaxed and laid back.
Highly recommended, in its own right as a great book on the space race, and as part of the Apollo story.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Missing It Is Not An Option, Oct. 20 2001
By 
BT (Atlanta, GA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond (Hardcover)
The critics say that Gene Kranz isn't a writer, he's an engineer.
The critics should stick to reading "The Right Stuff" if they want flowing prose and exciting stories about space without regard to accuracy.
Kranz is a character, to be sure. His personality looms large, even after the public's fascination with the space program has waned. His accounts of the events surrounding the early days of the space program, the moon landings, and the following steps of man's ventures into space are a must-read for anyone interested in an accurate account of the unparalleled achievements by NASA in its early days.
In addition to giving his viewpoint on several well-known and frequently retold events -- as so many books on the space program do -- Kranz gives some as-yet-untold perspective on key parts of the program that are often overlooked. In particular, Kranz shares the details that went into the development of the processes that were required to send men into space and return them safely to the earth. He relates just what a monumental task it was to create the mission rules, the flight plans, and the contingencies that made the program a success.
Also newly told was Kranz's recount of the scene in Mission Control as Apollo 11 approached a moon landing and program alarms began to sound in the lunar module -- and the role simulations played in saving the day.
"Failure Is Not An Option" is more of an historical account than a novel ... and it's much better that way.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Tour de Space, July 30 2001
By 
E. E Pofahl (HUNTINGTON, WV USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond (Hardcover)
Using his extensive files (over 7 file cabinets) and numerous sources, Gene Kranz reviews each launch and narrates his participation in the space program from Mercury through Apollo. An amazing amount of detail is given for the numerous difficulties that were encountered in each phase of the space program. The recognition of problems, troubleshooting them and quick resolution is the driving force in this text. Readers remember Apollo 13's fuel cell crisis and the excellent job done by both Mission Control and the crew to safely return the space craft home. However, while not as dramatic as Apollo 13's potential for astronauts being lost in space, several other incidents that could have resulted in tragedy are detailed along with the actions taken to overcome each difficulty.
The text is an account of Gene Kranz's career from procedure writer to Flight Director and details the history of the development of NASA's Mission Control organization. There being no previous experience, the book outlines how the Mission Control organization was developed from scratch. The text illustrates that in space, team work and training was mandatory to be able to evaluate a problem and initiate action often within 60 seconds. This required a high degree of commitment and competence for all persons involved.
Kranz's accounts of training through simulation is fascinating. Malfunctions were programmed into the training without prior knowledge of the persons in the training session. In one case the simulated collapse of the mission doctor was so real that after the training session others had to be told the doctor was fine. Such detailed and stressful training and the actual mission performance required a detailed knowledge of systems by each person for their area of responsibility plus knowledge of adjoining areas. This training frequently revealed problems where such knowledge later paid off in successful missions.
The author briefly outlines the background of each person as they appeared in the narration. They were basically a mix of young engineers and aviators some having test pilot experience. All parties had to live by a time line whether it was during planning, training, launch, flight or recovery. The text clearly states that participation in the space program demanded discipline, commitment and risk. Some readers may criticize Gene Kranz for his strict military attitude, discipline and unwavering commitment but the question must be asked what other alternatives would have worked in situations where decisions had to be made in seconds for malfunctions involving life and death? I am reminded of the old saying "A camel is a race horse designed by a committee." As the author clearly illustrates, in space there was no margin for error or time for debate.
Also covered are several non-flight activities such as upper management, debriefings and press conferences. Each debriefing was critical to the success of the next mission especially if critical malfunctions had to be addressed. The text states that the space program was covered by a dedicated, well-informed, and highly professional press corps who "....knew the difference between objective reporting of news and hyping things up to entertain the audience...." Kranz notes that "The press conference was almost as much of an ordeal as the mission" and further states "They asked the tough questions, but they respected us and the work we did as long as we didn't try to mislead them."
Flight directors worked rotating shifts. Gene Kranz was a flight director for Apollo 11 during the actual first lunar landing and later led the team that developed the program to recover Apollo 13 after it suffered the fuel cell explosion. The text gives much interesting information about both flights. The last moon landing was Apollo 17 where once again Kranz was a flight director.
The book concludes with the usual chapter Where They Are giving an update of the history for the major players.
The book provides a tremendous amount of information. Readability may be a minor weakness of this work, but a most helpful appendix Glossary of Terms defines the many acronyms used in the text and helps the reader to move ahead. While not difficult to read, at times it is slow reading unless the reader is just skimming.
While some may take issue with Gene Kranz's stern, disciplined, military approach to the challenges faced, the results confirm the effectiveness of this approach to life and death situations where decisions must be made in seconds and there is no turning back once a decision was made.
A must read for those interested in a time when the United States successfully met a major challenge.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Apollo as seen from Flight Operations..., May 17 2001
By 
Thomas Moody - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond (Hardcover)
This account from Gene Kranz should be considered one of the comprehensive mission operations viewpoints from Mission Control (the other being Murray/Cox "Apollo, the Race to the Moon")for the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo era...many new "insider" gems are presented here for the casual manned spaceflight reader or the spaceflight buff, all told in "rah-rah" patriotic prose. To say that Kranz's heart was and always will be in Mission Control is an understatement. After reading this, his whole life, it would appear, is centered around his role as Flight Director. And what a life it was! Uncommonly unique details of the mission planning, training and performance abound here...reading of the training for Apollo 11, how the 1201 and 1202 computer alarms while performing powered descent were simulated on the last training day prior to the mission were priceless...nowhere would you get this level of detail (unless another Flight Director [other than Chris Kraft] writes his memoirs) and the unique telling of it. Kranz's opinions of his controllers and Flight Director peers are also unique in that no-one else could submit what it was like working with these people and for this program day-to-day like him. This is a quick and easy read with lots of unique information that should be counted with the many existing accounts that are "required" manned spaceflight reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond
Used & New from: CDN$ 23.61
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews