Book Review: Rocket Men

I finished this book on the Brazil trip. It’s one of the few benefits of having 24 hours of travel one way. You can get a lot of reading in. (Or catch up on Burn Notice, Season 4. Which we did that as well.)

Craig Nelson’s Rocket Men is more focused on the particular men that first landed on the moon – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. This book really uncovers the layers of the two men, the conflict of who was supposed to get out first, the simulator crashes, the stress of being seconds away of aborting the landing and then life after the moon visit. It’s an easy read, an entertaining read as Craig Nelson knows how to tell a complicated story in a way that most will understand.

Kudos to him for that.

However, for the serious NASA buff…my hunch is that this book will be too full of “minor” discrepancies (errors?). The ones that I noticed were these:

Apollo 4 did NOT do a U-turn after launch and head for the ground, MR-2 and Ham did NOT hit 2,298 miles per SECOND and his discussion on the reliability of the Saturn rockets. The big rockets of Saturn were the most reliable NASA has ever seen. The secondary rockets was where they had their problems. Plus, I’m not sure how Armstrong logged 4,000 hrs in the X-15 in just 7 flights.

The funniest comment I can’t decide if it is an error or if he’s just trying to be funny. He claims that one of the reasons the astronaut wore gold-plated visors was just in case they ran into aliens. It would keep them from seeing their faces.

It was an entertaining read and I got more out of the back story of the men of Apollo 11 than anything else. If you are really interested in NASA and the Apollo missions, you must read Andrew Chaikin’s A Man On The Moon as well as Chris Kraft’s Flight: My Life In Mission Control. These are two of the best books ever on the subject.


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