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Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11

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For the 50th anniversary, the epic story of Apollo 11 and the astronauts, flight controllers, and engineers who made it happen, by the author of the bestselling A Terrible Glory and The Blood of Heroes. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon, a moment forever ingrained in history. Perhaps the world's greatest technologic For the 50th anniversary, the epic story of Apollo 11 and the astronauts, flight controllers, and engineers who made it happen, by the author of the bestselling A Terrible Glory and The Blood of Heroes. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon, a moment forever ingrained in history. Perhaps the world's greatest technological achievement-and a triumph of American spirit and ingenuity-the Apollo 11 mission, and the entire Apollo program, was a mammoth undertaking involving more than 410,000 men and women dedicated to putting a man on the Moon and winning the Space Race against the Soviets. Seen through the eyes of the those who lived it, Shoot for the Moon reveals the dangers, the challenges, and the sheer determination that defined not only Apollo 11, but also the Mercury and Gemini missions that made it possible. Both sweeping and intimate, and based on exhaustive research and dozens of fresh interviews, bestselling author James Donovan's Shoot for the Moon is the definitive and thrilling account of one of humankind's most extraordinary feats of exploration.


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For the 50th anniversary, the epic story of Apollo 11 and the astronauts, flight controllers, and engineers who made it happen, by the author of the bestselling A Terrible Glory and The Blood of Heroes. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon, a moment forever ingrained in history. Perhaps the world's greatest technologic For the 50th anniversary, the epic story of Apollo 11 and the astronauts, flight controllers, and engineers who made it happen, by the author of the bestselling A Terrible Glory and The Blood of Heroes. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon, a moment forever ingrained in history. Perhaps the world's greatest technological achievement-and a triumph of American spirit and ingenuity-the Apollo 11 mission, and the entire Apollo program, was a mammoth undertaking involving more than 410,000 men and women dedicated to putting a man on the Moon and winning the Space Race against the Soviets. Seen through the eyes of the those who lived it, Shoot for the Moon reveals the dangers, the challenges, and the sheer determination that defined not only Apollo 11, but also the Mercury and Gemini missions that made it possible. Both sweeping and intimate, and based on exhaustive research and dozens of fresh interviews, bestselling author James Donovan's Shoot for the Moon is the definitive and thrilling account of one of humankind's most extraordinary feats of exploration.

30 review for Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    2.5 Stars. I'm that person who devours any book written about the space program. When I saw this, I had to have it. Going into this, I thought that the bulk of the book was going to focus on Apollo 11. There have been multiple books written about single missions, and they’ve been very good (Apollo 8, Apollo 13). I didn’t realize that this book was going to give you an almost complete history of the space age. I thought it odd that a book that was supposed to focus on Apollo 11 doesn’t really star 2.5 Stars. I'm that person who devours any book written about the space program. When I saw this, I had to have it. Going into this, I thought that the bulk of the book was going to focus on Apollo 11. There have been multiple books written about single missions, and they’ve been very good (Apollo 8, Apollo 13). I didn’t realize that this book was going to give you an almost complete history of the space age. I thought it odd that a book that was supposed to focus on Apollo 11 doesn’t really start focusing on that mission until page 300. Is it really the extraordinary story of Apollo 11 when it only takes 95-ish pages? I didn’t find the sections leading up to Apollo 11 to be bad at all, I just wasn’t expecting them. The author writes well and likes to sprinkle his narrative with unattributed anecdotes. I didn’t mind this so much, until one of them directly contradicted established history. Page 220 recounts a story, apparently taken from an interview with Chuck Friedlander, where he takes Grissom’s parents to Cape Canaveral: “A few months before the Apollo 204 fire, Grissom’s parents had come up from Indiana to visit. Gus asked Chuck Friedlander to give them a tour of Cape Kennedy. . . Friedlander took Gus’s parents up the elevator to level eight and walked them over to the command module.” The gist of this story is that Grissom’s parents visited the capsule high atop Launch Complex 34 a few months before the launch. This would not have happened. The capsule was not installed at LC-34 until January 3, 1967, which is only 24 days before the fire. Hardly a “few months” before the fire. The Apollo 1 capsule arrived at KSC in August of 1966, and spent time in an altitude chamber before arriving at LC-34. I’m not doubting that Grissom’s parents may have toured the Cape with Mr. Friedman, but I suggest that if they did visit the capsule, it would not have been at level 8, on the gantry at LC-34. I’m also quite annoyed with the author for misquoting Grissom’s last few statements before the fire. On page 214, the author lists Grissom as saying "I said, Jesus Christ, if we can't communicate across three miles, how the hell are we going to communicate when we're on the moon." Here is what he really said: "How are we going to get to the moon if we can't talk between 3 buildings? Jesus Christ. I said how are we gonna get to the moon if we can't talk between two or three buildings?" It may not seem like a big difference, but it is different. Transcripts of the audio (or the audio itself) can be found online. I think there was no reason for the author to misquote Grissom here. It may seem close enough, but imagine if we only remembered the close enough version other iconic statements. This may seem like nitpicking, but I’m very touchy about Apollo 1. There was no excuse for this in a situation where the author had some really awesome resources at his disposal while writing this book. In the end, I was disappointed. Finding inaccuracies like these make me suspicious about errors I may not have noticed. I appreciate that the author wanted to write about the space program, but I’ve honestly read this same book a dozen times. It has been done before. Even though Apollo 11 has been covered before, I think that a fresh version for the 50th anniversary would have been great. I don't think this quite fits the bill. I’m not going to discourage anyone from reading the book, but I think there are better examples already out there. But who am I to disagree with Michael Collins?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Byron

    What a thrilling book! Even though I knew the outcome from the beginning, having lived the early space years as a youth, I could not put this book down, making up excuses to drive my car so I could listen to the next chapter. Donovan details the history of the race to the moon, including a lot of material that has come to light in the years since, especially about the Soviet space efforts. He chronicles the selection of the astronauts and the factors that affected the selection of the men and cr What a thrilling book! Even though I knew the outcome from the beginning, having lived the early space years as a youth, I could not put this book down, making up excuses to drive my car so I could listen to the next chapter. Donovan details the history of the race to the moon, including a lot of material that has come to light in the years since, especially about the Soviet space efforts. He chronicles the selection of the astronauts and the factors that affected the selection of the men and crews for the Gemini and Apollo missions. While many of us have been captivated by Tom Hanks as James Lovell in Apollo 13, the near catastrophe, the successful story of Apollo 11 is equally compelling, as the unknowns and dangers involved in the mission were significant. Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were aware of the risks and rated their chances of a successful landing and return at 50-50, not good odds for most of life's ventures. But the story of the moon landing is a story that goes far beyond the astronauts, and Donovan makes us very aware of many of the people who contributed to this achievement, such as the flight controllers, and the various specialist who worked on the myriad of problems that had to be resolved in order to make this flight possible. (One major omission was that he did not mention the ladies from Hidden Figures, so I am curious as to how that should fit into his story.) He also talks extensively by the contributions of Wernher von Braun, the remarkable figure who, after helping Hitler in WWII, became a foundational cornerstone of the space program, achieving a significant level of celebrity during the space years. Of course, the space program began in a pre-60's America, where the modus operandi was white, male, and for the most part, cigarette smoking, corvette driving, and hard-drinking. That is a sad reality, and though I am of the impression that NASA has become more culturally appropriate in the decades since the moon landing, that is an issue for another day. Donovan's tells the stories of the tragedies encountered, not just the Apollo 1 fire that killed Grissom, White and Chafee, but he told me something I did not know, that an astronaut named Clifton Williams, who never flew in space, crashed his test plane not far from where I live in Tallahassee in 1967, before I came to FSU.

  3. 4 out of 5

    WendyB

    I enjoyed reading this but had thought most of it would be about Apollo 11 and it really wasn't. I did like the part about the Gemini missions as they often get overlooked in books about the space race.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Curt Evoy

    An enjoyable read documenting the history of manned space flight from the beginning through the Apollo 11 moon landing. The book covers many facets of the successful mission to land man on the moon. The author covers the Astronauts and the support team in Houston who supported their efforts.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sal

    Good historic look at the space race, I might even have it on my re-read list. That being said, I still loved First Man a bit more

  6. 5 out of 5

    John

    I'm a sucker for most anything about the 1960's NASA missions, and therefore easily lured in by this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not too technical, and sprinkled with plenty of great anecdotes.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lissa

    I have read several books on the early days of the space travel and I am almost always exited by the history. This is more of an overview of the missions and people leading up to the moon landing. This is well researched and has interesting andecdotes. While not the most riveting of accounts, I still found this a great overview of the beginning of NASA and the early excitement surrounding the space program. I received a digital ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    J.J.

    Highly recommend the audio version of this one. Even though I knew most of the history, still kept me on the edge of my seat listening to the narrative.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bob Kuster

    Fifty years later, the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space program remain as interesting as ever. Even though we know how the story ends, James Donovan makes us sweat through some very tense moments.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11 by James Donovan is a truly riveting book. I read it out loud to one of my sisters and we were both pretty glued to it. We read it over the space (no pun intended) of about three or four days. We have never really read a book about the race to space and this book was a good introduction to it all. As the title implies, it details the space race between the Russians and Americans to get someone into space, and on the moon Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11 by James Donovan is a truly riveting book. I read it out loud to one of my sisters and we were both pretty glued to it. We read it over the space (no pun intended) of about three or four days. We have never really read a book about the race to space and this book was a good introduction to it all. As the title implies, it details the space race between the Russians and Americans to get someone into space, and on the moon, first and thus doing it as fast as possible. The timeline is a little mixed up, but it works. Generally speaking, the account is heading toward the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. But first, you are going to learn how this all got started. You learn how NASA came into being and the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, and details about the efforts of both the Russians and the Americans just to get out of our planet's atmosphere. It is quite intense at times. The author writes very well, and, as I already mentioned, he really pulled my sister and I into the history. Even the little details and challenges faced were fascinating to learn. I'll give several of them here: For instance, part of the problem faced by the designers of the first space crafts to exit our atmosphere was how to return them to earth safely without them burning up in the descent. Part of what helped them was noticing what type of meteors made it all the way through the earth's atmosphere to the earth, "So when two of Faget's colleagues, Harvey Allen and Alfred Eggers, pointed out that meteors with rounded noses were aerodynamically stable and survived the searing heat of the plunge - they had been studying the concept for years…" And another one: I'd never really considered that they had to use military/battlefield rockets to get into space. It makes sense of course now. And because the astronauts, upon reentry might end up landing anywhere on earth, they had to have survival training in a variety of environments. I'll give one last interesting detail, while on their way to the moon they would put their spaceship into a rotation, essentially, spinning their way to the moon. Why? Because the side facing the sun was too hot and could cause damage to the craft, but the side facing away from the sun was too cold and could also be a hazard, so in order to even it out they would put it into a spin. Along the way, you are introduced to various people who took part in this grand mission to get a man on the moon. Donovan vividly portrays this large mix of individuals with, sometimes vastly, different backgrounds (one of the important men involved was a former SS officer who ended up on some Disney television presentations!), all using their various skills to work together to achieve one goal. All in all, I really liked this book. It really keeps the attention and interest all of the way through.* It really did almost seem as though we'd travelled back in time, as it were, to these historic events. One more note. It is fascinating for me to mull over the thought that, though God stopped people thousands of years ago from building the Tower of Babel, yet in the past hundred years, He has allowed us to go to the Moon. When you learn that the Apollo 8 astronauts were the first to leave earth's orbit and go around the moon, it almost gives me chills to think that, when they looked out of the window and saw the earth looking so small, they were the first humans God allowed to see it from that perspective. Many thanks to the folks at Little Brown and Company for sending me a free advanced review copy of this book. My review did not have to be favorable. - Because I received an advanced copy of the book, some of the content may be different in the final publication *You may want to know that there is some vulgar language and topics, also some swearing) in the book. Most of it was in actual quotations of the people in question. Also there were some awkward historical details. This was all stuff that I didn't care to know of so I just scribbled it out and didn't read those parts out loud. And, I want to note that my liking this book does not mean that I agree with all of the author's political, moral, or scientific perspectives.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    The moon landing occurred a decade before I was born, so I appreciated learning all the details of the mission and everything involving the American space program that preceded it in this comprehensive book. From the beginning of the Space Race, the ultimate objective was to beat the Russians in space “firsts.” Initially, the Russians dominated, and they were quick to flaunt their successes, but would keep their failures secret from the world for years. The determination and ingenuity of NASA an The moon landing occurred a decade before I was born, so I appreciated learning all the details of the mission and everything involving the American space program that preceded it in this comprehensive book. From the beginning of the Space Race, the ultimate objective was to beat the Russians in space “firsts.” Initially, the Russians dominated, and they were quick to flaunt their successes, but would keep their failures secret from the world for years. The determination and ingenuity of NASA and the brilliant minds involved allowed the USA to surpass its Cold War adversary. The Mercury and Gemini programs were stepping stones for Apollo, and they were significant in their own ways. I had to share one of the funniest anecdotes from one Gemini mission in particular: “Gemini 7 dropped into the Pacific… its two occupants weary, sore, and extremely fragrant – but healthy. Two of the three frogmen who attached the floatation collar to the command module after splashdown vomited when the hatch opened and they got a direct blast of fourteen-day-old air and the men who had lived in it.” I was constantly jotting down fascinating tidbits. I didn’t know Gemini was named after the constellation and the two stars comprising it (Castor and Pollux) because it would have a two-man crew. Mission control shifts were designated a color by its flight director (Gene Kranz as white) and that color would be retired when that flight director left. The “complexity” regarding “orbital mechanics and rendezvous maneuvers” was mind boggling. And I think I have a retro-crush on Mike Collins – he appreciates, wine, literature, and gardening, his favorite cocktail is a martini, and he has “a self-deprecating wit.” Even though I obviously knew Apollo 11 would be successful, reading about it was still suspenseful. Nowadays, we may take for granted all the risks involved, and these guys faced the unknown every time they left the earth’s surface. The entire episode regarding Apollo 1’s fatal fire and the chapters dealing with it were devastating, and those men were still on terra firma. This was a riveting and informative book that detailed all the specifics of the space program without being too technical. Considering how many genius minds were involved in achieving one of mankind’s greatest achievements, I would say this book was incredibly successful in in its accessibility, scope, and ability to evoke awe-inspiring wonder. I received a complimentary copy of this book via Goodreads First Reads.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Williams

    I have previously read numerous books about the space race and Apollo 11. At first, this book appeared to be one of those that rehashed everything that I had learned previously with no new information or insights. However, James Donovan really did his homework and gave key insights to the men of Apollo 11, including the technicians and flight controllers (not just the astronauts), which took me by surprise. Additionally, he put together a seamless narrative from Operation Paperclip through Apoll I have previously read numerous books about the space race and Apollo 11. At first, this book appeared to be one of those that rehashed everything that I had learned previously with no new information or insights. However, James Donovan really did his homework and gave key insights to the men of Apollo 11, including the technicians and flight controllers (not just the astronauts), which took me by surprise. Additionally, he put together a seamless narrative from Operation Paperclip through Apollo 11 focusing on the previous missions and knowledge that led up to the successful moon landing. While he kept his focus mainly on Apollo 11, the fact that he brought so much more into the mix, it really is a well told history of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. Unfortunately, because he stops at Apollo 11, the subsequent moonlanding missions, which were just as important, came across as an after thought in the epilogue. It would have been nice for those crews to not get overlooked in this book like they get overlooked everywhere else. That was the biggest disappointment. Nonetheless, this is a very well done book. If you aren't a space junkie like me, this would be a good starting point to understand the complexities and the context behind the space race. He gets technical enough for you to "get it" without bogging down the text with an overload of acronyms and a treatise on orbital mechanics. This alone makes it one of the better reads of space race material in the marketplace. Job well done.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Dick

    I love reading books and watching documentaries on the early years of NASA (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs). When I saw that Michael Collins (command module pilot of Apollo 11) said that this was the best book written on Apollo, it told me that I would not be wasting my time reading this book. I was correct. Overall, this is a well-written and balanced book. Even with having considerable amount of knowledge on this period, there was still an abundance of items that I learned. If you are a NA I love reading books and watching documentaries on the early years of NASA (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs). When I saw that Michael Collins (command module pilot of Apollo 11) said that this was the best book written on Apollo, it told me that I would not be wasting my time reading this book. I was correct. Overall, this is a well-written and balanced book. Even with having considerable amount of knowledge on this period, there was still an abundance of items that I learned. If you are a NASA nerd, reading this will not be redundancy. Donovan covers multiple facets: Von Braun and his group of rocket scientists from WWII Germany, the astronauts, the NASA administrators and politics surrounding the programs, the guys in Mission Control, the engineering behind the spacecrafts and even a brief history of the Soviet space program layered throughout. Even in covering these facets, the pace of the book is not too fast or choppy. The only potential warning I would give is that there is science and engineering explanation throughout the book. They are basic explanations and do not dive into any advanced level though. I believe it adds to the story and helps the reader understand what NASA was up against in being tasked to land a man on the moon. If you are reading for just a story of people and places, you may not find that part enjoyable. For anyone wanting to read about the first 15 years of NASA, THIS would be the book I would recommend.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Hall

    This is clearly a well-researched book, full of fun little facts about NASA, the men behind mission control, and the astronauts, all to celebrate the fact that we are coming up to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. I think a book like this, which covers so much ground, can easily fall into the trap of being too science-heavy and therefore unapproachable or boring by readers who aren't familiar with terminology. However, I think Donovan did an excellent job making this accessible for all r This is clearly a well-researched book, full of fun little facts about NASA, the men behind mission control, and the astronauts, all to celebrate the fact that we are coming up to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. I think a book like this, which covers so much ground, can easily fall into the trap of being too science-heavy and therefore unapproachable or boring by readers who aren't familiar with terminology. However, I think Donovan did an excellent job making this accessible for all readers and keeping the story engaging with a good mix of human anecdotes mixed with science. The best part was hands-down the chapter when Armstrong and Aldrin were landing the LM on the moon. I already knew how the story ended, but I still found myself on the edge of my seat, waiting for something catastrophic to happen. That was truly great writing on Donovan's part. The only problem I had was that I thought there would be more focus on the actual Apollo 11 voyage, but that was actually only the very last portion of the book, which I think the blurb is not very clear about. It's definitely more about the race that led to the moon landing and the initial creation of NASA, as well as the Mercury and Gemini missions. This is more a criticism on the way the book is advertised, rather than the book itself, because those parts were still very interesting. My review is based on an ARC I received from the publisher.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I learned as I read this book that I pretty much knew nothing about the space race or NASA or the flight to the moon. I was nominally familiar with a few small bits and pieces of it --Sputnik started it all, von Braun was the guy that built rockets, JFK gave a speech with a deadline, and Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon on July 20th, 1969--but that was about it. So not only did I learn a lot from this book, but I liked how it provided the context and the process for getting to the moon. I also I learned as I read this book that I pretty much knew nothing about the space race or NASA or the flight to the moon. I was nominally familiar with a few small bits and pieces of it --Sputnik started it all, von Braun was the guy that built rockets, JFK gave a speech with a deadline, and Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon on July 20th, 1969--but that was about it. So not only did I learn a lot from this book, but I liked how it provided the context and the process for getting to the moon. I also really liked how after explaining each step of the progressing missions from Mercury through Gemini to Apollo, the author summarized what the engineers and astronauts at NASA learned and how it helped them move on to the next task. Unexpectedly, the part about the actual Apollo 11 mission to the moon was less interesting to me than the rest of the book. It seemed like more of a checklist (they did this and then they did that...) and less like the narrative of the first 3/4 of the book. I kind of wish I had read this before I saw the documentary Apollo 11 because then I would have understood more of what I saw. Though having already seen the documentary I probably picked up on more in the book than I would have otherwise.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I received a free copy of this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. Shoot for the Moon is the historical narrative of Apollo 11, the mission to get to the moon, and the Space Race that led up to it. This is the first book I have read on this topic so I don't know how it compares to others. However, in my opinion Donovan does a great job at laying out the history in a way that is never dry or overly complicated and actually quite easy to understand for someone with pretty much no prior knowledge I received a free copy of this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. Shoot for the Moon is the historical narrative of Apollo 11, the mission to get to the moon, and the Space Race that led up to it. This is the first book I have read on this topic so I don't know how it compares to others. However, in my opinion Donovan does a great job at laying out the history in a way that is never dry or overly complicated and actually quite easy to understand for someone with pretty much no prior knowledge on the subject. The pacing is not as slow as I thought it would be, it isn't fast but I think it is just right for the amount of information conveyed. It was very easy for me to just sit and become completely absorbed in the narrative being told. Something that stood out to me were the many small personal anecdotes strewn throughout the book that provided a bit of relief from the original scientific and political account taking place. I'm sure that if they hadn't been included the experience would have been much less enjoyable. Overall I would gladly recommend this book to others with an interest in the origins of NASA; the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions; and the role of astronauts in the missions they take part in.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Having grown up in the Sixties, I was an eager follower of any and all coverage of the space race, and since then I have read every book I could find to relive those days. So I was delighted when I was selected as one of the winners of this giveaway. This book is an excellent overview of the U. S. manned space program from Mercury through Apollo 11. For those just starting to learn about this amazing effort, it is a great starting point. Sadly, as time goes on, there are fewer and fewer of us who Having grown up in the Sixties, I was an eager follower of any and all coverage of the space race, and since then I have read every book I could find to relive those days. So I was delighted when I was selected as one of the winners of this giveaway. This book is an excellent overview of the U. S. manned space program from Mercury through Apollo 11. For those just starting to learn about this amazing effort, it is a great starting point. Sadly, as time goes on, there are fewer and fewer of us who remember those times, but Mr. Donovans' book will be a great starting point to introduce future generations to this amazing adventure. While I did not expect to see anything new to me in the book, there were several occasions where I stopped and thought "I didn't know that". The book was also a good introduction to many of the key people who help bring this about, including many mission planners, designers, flight controllers, project managers, NASA executives and politicians, and of course the astronauts. I would highly recommend it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    What were the dangers and challenges of the Apollo 11 mission? Were they different from those of the Mercury and Gemini missions that defined America’s first steps away from their home planet? Combining in-depth research with new interviews, the author offers an overview of the American space program, including the historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon. A wide selection of well-chosen photographs accompanies the narrative; extensive notes and bibliographic information follow the text. Although What were the dangers and challenges of the Apollo 11 mission? Were they different from those of the Mercury and Gemini missions that defined America’s first steps away from their home planet? Combining in-depth research with new interviews, the author offers an overview of the American space program, including the historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon. A wide selection of well-chosen photographs accompanies the narrative; extensive notes and bibliographic information follow the text. Although eminently readable and notably enthusiastic, similar narratives have included most of the information related here. Unfortunately, several inconsistencies and errors both with quotations and with recounting of events, while seemingly insignificant in the overall picture of the space program, are certain to be a stumbling block for readers who grew up reading about the space program in the daily newspaper and watching Walter Cronkite’s space reports on the evening news. Recommended.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Patrick DiJusto

    Let's face it, you know what it's like with me and books about the Apollo space program. I love them all, and I'm also super critical of them all. That's just the way it is. This Book is no different. Clearly written to capitalize on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, this book takes a look at the entire American Space Program from before the beginning to just after the Apollo 11 crew return to Earth safely. Clearly, it was written for people who didn't know much about the Apollo Let's face it, you know what it's like with me and books about the Apollo space program. I love them all, and I'm also super critical of them all. That's just the way it is. This Book is no different. Clearly written to capitalize on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, this book takes a look at the entire American Space Program from before the beginning to just after the Apollo 11 crew return to Earth safely. Clearly, it was written for people who didn't know much about the Apollo program before this year, and want to catch up on what all the excitement was about. But of course, try as they might, no writer about the space program can't escape my scrutiny. The book is loaded with tiny little insignificant errors, most of which me nothing, but which nonetheless drive me up the wall because after all, they're WRONG. But really, that's my problem, not yours. Whatever tiny errors exist in the book don't detract from the books relevance; you're still going to learn a lot of valuable information about the Golden Age of the US Space Program.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Shoot for the Moon is a fantastically authored recounting of the space race between the Soviets and Americans leading up to and concluding with the successful Apollo 11 mission. Donovan does a stellar job of recounting this period of exploration in a way that's easily readable for just about anyone, avoiding unfamiliar industry specific jargon or sounding overly technical, and manages to give insight to the America astronauts, Soviet cosmonauts, their support staff and the leadership of their co Shoot for the Moon is a fantastically authored recounting of the space race between the Soviets and Americans leading up to and concluding with the successful Apollo 11 mission. Donovan does a stellar job of recounting this period of exploration in a way that's easily readable for just about anyone, avoiding unfamiliar industry specific jargon or sounding overly technical, and manages to give insight to the America astronauts, Soviet cosmonauts, their support staff and the leadership of their countries that humanizes individuals without coming off as biased. He also starts the book at what is in many ways the beginning of space travel, with the advancement of rocketry during World War II. The only thing I wish it had was a longer epilogue that went into greater detail about space travel since Apollo 11 and future plans. I love astronomy and space travel, and this is not the first book I've read on the subject matter, but is definitely the best.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Read Ng

    I was a youngster during the moon landings (so you have a clue as to my current age). I am biased regarding the subject matter. I did hold childhood fantasies of myself exploring space. In fact I still hold some of those fantasies. Perhaps that is why I am such a "hard science" type of person. This was a great read. One feels the pressure to succeed and the tragic consequences of fatal errors. This telling adds background regarding historic figures and events as they lead up to the moon landing e I was a youngster during the moon landings (so you have a clue as to my current age). I am biased regarding the subject matter. I did hold childhood fantasies of myself exploring space. In fact I still hold some of those fantasies. Perhaps that is why I am such a "hard science" type of person. This was a great read. One feels the pressure to succeed and the tragic consequences of fatal errors. This telling adds background regarding historic figures and events as they lead up to the moon landing efforts. History that I lived through, but was too young to appreciate. There is a great sense of the gravity of the decision process. I could feel the tension in the air related to many of the critical turning points. I will be adding Donovan to my list of authors to read. This was a great GoodReads. Go read it yourself.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    I received a free copy of "Shoot for the Moon" by James Donovan, through the "Good Reads First Giveaway." I was attracted to this book because my family and I experienced the moon landing of Apollo 11 live in 1969. Unfortunately we did not know that this was a mission involving very risky situations and brave astronauts. The book gives multiple names and events and is somewhat overwhelming as a light read, but is more of a reference book to the actual events leading to this wonderful historic happ I received a free copy of "Shoot for the Moon" by James Donovan, through the "Good Reads First Giveaway." I was attracted to this book because my family and I experienced the moon landing of Apollo 11 live in 1969. Unfortunately we did not know that this was a mission involving very risky situations and brave astronauts. The book gives multiple names and events and is somewhat overwhelming as a light read, but is more of a reference book to the actual events leading to this wonderful historic happening. I enjoyed it although it demands the reader to make a commitment to that time in history. It is readable but very detailed. I think every American should be exposed to this book and I hope to pass it on to my grandson.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I really want to give this one 5 stars & I was fascinated by many aspects of the story, but I was disappointed that the process of doing the math to get the rockets there (& the role that Katherine Johnson especially played) wasn't acknowledged at all. Other than that complaint this book was a fascinating history of NASA - extremely comprehensive. I enjoyed that the book delved in to the complex relationship of the flight crews and the time table of the process - along with an explanatio I really want to give this one 5 stars & I was fascinated by many aspects of the story, but I was disappointed that the process of doing the math to get the rockets there (& the role that Katherine Johnson especially played) wasn't acknowledged at all. Other than that complaint this book was a fascinating history of NASA - extremely comprehensive. I enjoyed that the book delved in to the complex relationship of the flight crews and the time table of the process - along with an explanation of the Space Race. Definitely a must read for anyone who ever dreamed of being an astronaut - and probably lots of people who didn't.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Barry Davidoff

    If Michael Collins thought that this book "was the best one written on the Apollo 11 mission" how can I not rate it five stars. It is an excellent book on the entire history of the space race with about 20% devoted to Apollo 11. It provides a general synopsis of the missions before Apollo 11 without delving too long into any aspects of the space race. It is an interesting venture into the historiography of space exploration. It benefits greatly from the 50 years of writing that followed Apollo 11 If Michael Collins thought that this book "was the best one written on the Apollo 11 mission" how can I not rate it five stars. It is an excellent book on the entire history of the space race with about 20% devoted to Apollo 11. It provides a general synopsis of the missions before Apollo 11 without delving too long into any aspects of the space race. It is an interesting venture into the historiography of space exploration. It benefits greatly from the 50 years of writing that followed Apollo 11 and especially the autobiographies of the major participants. The book too often focuses on the flaws of prior missions and not that they were highly successful building blocks. The book is highly annotated with references to the familiar tomes of the space race. The section on the actual of the Eagle to the lunar surface is thrilling. It combines the knife edge of engineering confidence and trepidation that marked the landing. The role of Steve Bales, the 26 year old guidance controller for the LM is highlighted with new information based on the author's interview with Bales. Although an excellent general history, the best book written on the space race was Andrew Chaiken's A Man of the Moon which is poetic in its descriptions of man's greatest odyessey. From a pure research perspective Asaf Saddaqui's Challenge to Apollo describing the Soviet program is the groundbreaking standard. In view of the 50th anniversary James Donovan has written a well researched book that is a fitting commeraition of the moon race.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Thank you Goodreads for the ARC of this remarkable book. I have been a follower of the space program ever since I was a little girl and watched with awe as the Mercury astronauts blasted off into space. I still remember to this day what I was doing when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed and walked on the moon. This book is an exceptional telling of how they got there, the sacrifices made by so many, and the teamwork it took to get the job done. Told in language the layperson can understand wi Thank you Goodreads for the ARC of this remarkable book. I have been a follower of the space program ever since I was a little girl and watched with awe as the Mercury astronauts blasted off into space. I still remember to this day what I was doing when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed and walked on the moon. This book is an exceptional telling of how they got there, the sacrifices made by so many, and the teamwork it took to get the job done. Told in language the layperson can understand with not too many above-your-head technical terms, you will come to realize what an amazing, seemingly improbable achievement this was. Highly recommended!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dwayne Coleman

    Although readers knowledgeable about the space program will be familiar with much of the history that this book relates, it does relates some details about the decision-making processes within NASA, and some events connected to the Soviet space program that may not be widely known. It is clear that the author has had recent conversations with many of the surviving Apollo astronauts, including Mike Collins, the Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot, and this is a strength of the book. The book will also Although readers knowledgeable about the space program will be familiar with much of the history that this book relates, it does relates some details about the decision-making processes within NASA, and some events connected to the Soviet space program that may not be widely known. It is clear that the author has had recent conversations with many of the surviving Apollo astronauts, including Mike Collins, the Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot, and this is a strength of the book. The book will also be great for someone who knows little about the first moon landing, and since it doesn't get too bogged down in scientific details (at least to my mind), I highly recommend it to those readers.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Terry Pearson

    Thanks to the publisher for the free book Wow, the childhood memories of watching all NASA launches with my parents and siblings that came flooding back; some heartbreaking, others jubilant. As far back as I can remember, 1960, this is what Americans did. It was an highly exciting era. I remember this (Apoll 11) iconic flight and the landing as though it was yesterday: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would be landing on the moon and hopefully with God’s grace, returning home. This was a fantastic Thanks to the publisher for the free book Wow, the childhood memories of watching all NASA launches with my parents and siblings that came flooding back; some heartbreaking, others jubilant. As far back as I can remember, 1960, this is what Americans did. It was an highly exciting era. I remember this (Apoll 11) iconic flight and the landing as though it was yesterday: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would be landing on the moon and hopefully with God’s grace, returning home. This was a fantastic book and iconic photographs included made it that much better. If you’re even remotely interested in the space progran, I recommend you read this.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    I have to be honest and say that most of this book is filled with material I already know. Although I do have to take off a star because this book does not break much new ground, I do admire the author's thorough research. James Donovan has a great grasp on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, he writes very well, and he does come up with some tidbits I did not know through his thorough archival research and interviews (especially with Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Support Officer Chuck Fr I have to be honest and say that most of this book is filled with material I already know. Although I do have to take off a star because this book does not break much new ground, I do admire the author's thorough research. James Donovan has a great grasp on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, he writes very well, and he does come up with some tidbits I did not know through his thorough archival research and interviews (especially with Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Support Officer Chuck Friedlander and flight controllers such as Steve Bales). I highly recommend the book, even if the most dedicated space enthusiasts will find a lot of details they have already read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Adam Christian

    Ok, as an avowed Apollo nerd I have read a LOT of books written about missions, the program and by American astronauts. If I were to read a book on the Space Race, I have to recommend "In Their Own Words: The Space Race: The Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury Missions". It is an audiobook but it is well worth the time even if you are a page turner. Very well produced and covers all missions from Mercury through Apollo. It also covers the concurrent Soviet program as a comparison. You will thank me. https: Ok, as an avowed Apollo nerd I have read a LOT of books written about missions, the program and by American astronauts. If I were to read a book on the Space Race, I have to recommend "In Their Own Words: The Space Race: The Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury Missions". It is an audiobook but it is well worth the time even if you are a page turner. Very well produced and covers all missions from Mercury through Apollo. It also covers the concurrent Soviet program as a comparison. You will thank me. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Conerty

    For anyone looking to explore the implications or technological progress of The Space Race, look no further. Donovan offers a thoroughly-researched, readable telling that probes everything from the selection and training of astronauts to the political (and monetary) capital expended to grow NASA and its early space programs. The author does well at bringing the efforts of the USSR into focus, which provides much-needed context to a conversation that can be overly biased.

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