A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts

  • by Andrew Chaikin
  • Narrated by Bronson Pinchot
  • 22 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award, History/Biography, 2016
This acclaimed portrait of heroism and ingenuity captures a watershed moment in human history. The astronauts themselves have called it the definitive account of their missions. On the night of July 20, 1969, our world changed forever when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Based on in-depth interviews with 23 of the 24 moon voyagers, as well as those who struggled to get the program moving, A Man on the Moon conveys every aspect of the Apollo missions with breathtaking immediacy and stunning detail.


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Customer Reviews

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Up and Down

This book is a fascinating fly-on-the-wall panorama of the extraordinary efforts made by NASA to land a man on the moon before the onset of the year 1970, and then the subsequent missions in the early 70s.

You look up at the big moon in the sky and it doesn’t look all that far away, but if the earth was a basketball, then the moon would be a baseball a distant 23 feet away, or a quarter of a million miles to full scale. And the technology available to get the astronauts there (and back) was fairly rudimentary by today’s standards; all foil, duct tape and steaming, simmering rocket fuel. The computer on board Apollo 11 contained less hardware than a pocket calculator, with a paltry 64 kilobytes of memory.

This book takes you through all the missions leading up to the 1969 moon landing (and beyond), and it becomes clear that the men inside the rockets were taking a very big risk every time they sat on those colossal vats of liquid hydrogen and got blasted into space. Manoeuvring out of earth orbit and then into lunar orbit required very precise burns of this rocket fuel to alter their speed and direction, and if these were miscalculated or if there was a malfunction, then they would have drifted into the blackness of space until their oxygen fizzled out, like Major Tom.

And the glamour of space flight loses some of its gloss when you hear the graphic descriptions of globules of urine, vomit and diarrhoea meandering randomly around the cabin. After several days cooped up inside the cabin the smell got so bad that one navy swimmer who released the astronauts from their command module in the Pacific Ocean wretched when he opened the hatch.

But there is also the sheer amazing exuberance of that first historic walk out onto the lunar surface. With Armstrong and Aldrin; two serious, highly intelligent and rigorously trained aviators bouncing around in the moon’s one sixth gravity like toddlers on a trampoline, and the surrealism of them being so ridiculously far away and so isolated, and yet being watched by 600 million viewers on live TV and having a phone chat with President Nixon. It’s so bizarre that it’s no wonder there are some cretins who think the whole thing was a hoax.

Like the moon, this story waxes and wanes in cycles of climax (the first moon landing and the Apollo 13 near-disaster) and anti-climax (Apollo 12, the second moon mission and Apollos 14-17, when moon geology becomes the main focus and the Apollo programme just gradually peters out). But despite these anti-climaxes, the audiobook tells the full story in rich detail, and you really feel as if you were there on the moon with those first pioneers. Recommended.
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- Mark "I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!"

The classic chronicle of the Apollo era

What did you love best about A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts?

Chaikin's approach to the book, which isn't a straight history of Apollo. This is not a dry, dusty history, but rather a character-driven exploration of the program, with all of its brilliant successes and heart-breaking failures. Nor is it hagiography. The Apollo astronauts are real people, with all the flaws that that entails, and Chaikin does a great job of capturing their strengths as well as their weaknesses.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Though not a "character" in the literary sense: Pete Conrad. The chapter on Apollo 12 is my favorite.

What does Bronson Pinchot bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Superb inflection and a recreation of the astronaut's speaking styles. Pinchot's reading was very nicely done and he does a great job of capturing the personalities of the astronauts. He doesn't try to do impressions, though. It is his interpretation of the astronauts, but accurate ones if you've ever heard one speak.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but I'm a manned space flight nerd. Your mileage may vary.

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- C. Ubik

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-13-2015
  • Publisher: Audiobooks.com