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One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon PDF, ePub eBook The remarkable story of the trailblazers and the ordinary Americans on the front lines of the epic mission to reach the moon. President John F. Kennedy astonished the world on May 25, 1961, when he announced to Congress that the United States should land a man on the Moon by 1970. No group was more surprised than the scientists and engineers at NASA, who suddenly had less t The remarkable story of the trailblazers and the ordinary Americans on the front lines of the epic mission to reach the moon. President John F. Kennedy astonished the world on May 25, 1961, when he announced to Congress that the United States should land a man on the Moon by 1970. No group was more surprised than the scientists and engineers at NASA, who suddenly had less than a decade to invent space travel. When Kennedy announced that goal, no one knew how to navigate to the Moon. No one knew how to build a rocket big enough to reach the Moon, or how to build a computer small enough (and powerful enough) to fly a spaceship there. No one knew what the surface of the Moon was like, or what astronauts could eat as they flew there. On the day of Kennedy’s historic speech, America had a total of fifteen minutes of spaceflight experience—with just five of those minutes outside the atmosphere. Russian dogs had more time in space than U.S. astronauts. Over the next decade, more than 400,000 scientists, engineers, and factory workers would send 24 astronauts to the Moon. Each hour of space flight would require one million hours of work back on Earth to get America to the Moon on July 20, 1969. Fifty years later, One Giant Leap is the sweeping, definitive behind-the-scenes account of the furious race to complete one of mankind’s greatest achievements. It’s a story filled with surprises—from the item the astronauts almost forgot to take with them (the American flag), to the extraordinary impact Apollo would have back on Earth, and on the way we live today. Charles Fishman introduces readers to the men and women who had to solve 10,000 problems before astronauts could reach the Moon. From the research labs of MIT, where the eccentric and legendary pioneer Charles Draper created the tools to fly the Apollo spaceships, to the factories where dozens of women sewed spacesuits, parachutes, and even computer hardware by hand, Fishman captures the exceptional feats of these ordinary Americans. One Giant Leap is the captivating story of men and women charged with changing the world as we knew it—their leaders, their triumphs, their near disasters, all of which led to arguably the greatest success story, and the greatest adventure story, of the twentieth century.

30 review for One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon

  1. 4 out of 5

    Peter Mcloughlin

    Excellent history of the Apollo program to land a man on the moon. It covers with a great deal of detail not only the political aspects of the program but many of the technological details of the program. The jokes when I was a kid in the 1970s was that the moonshot gave us spin-offs like tang or later velcro actually were not products of the space program but were products around before sputnik. However, what was a major spinoff is the integrated computer chip that powers my laptop and just abo Excellent history of the Apollo program to land a man on the moon. It covers with a great deal of detail not only the political aspects of the program but many of the technological details of the program. The jokes when I was a kid in the 1970s was that the moonshot gave us spin-offs like tang or later velcro actually were not products of the space program but were products around before sputnik. However, what was a major spinoff is the integrated computer chip that powers my laptop and just about every piece of electronics today. for most of the decade, Nasa and the airforce were the sole purchases of this infant technology. Without government contracts buying up these chips, this industry might have been strangled in the crib. The achievement was extraordinary.. The author puts up a good case for the importance of this project for the US and the world. Wish our country had that kind of optimism to solve problems and get stuff done today. A youtube video on the Saturn V guidance computer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dI-JW...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon by Charles Fishman is a book that chronicles the Apollo program responsible for the manned lunar landing in the late 1960s. One Giant Leap is a tour de force, covering everything from the social and civil unrest which serves as the backdrop to the story, to the behind the scenes politics leading to the conception and funding of the Apollo program, and complete with a deep technical introspective into the challenges and solutions in One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon by Charles Fishman is a book that chronicles the Apollo program responsible for the manned lunar landing in the late 1960s. One Giant Leap is a tour de force, covering everything from the social and civil unrest which serves as the backdrop to the story, to the behind the scenes politics leading to the conception and funding of the Apollo program, and complete with a deep technical introspective into the challenges and solutions in making it a reality. It can be easy to forget that the development of any piece of technology is performed by engineers. The Apollo program was no exception and One Giant Leap covers the human element superbly. One key technical consideration chronicled by One Giant Leap was that of the Rendezvous. It was not feasible to have a monolithic spacecraft perform the entire mission. It must be broken down into smaller sections, but where and when these pieces would separate and recombine was major point of contention within NASA. One Giant Leap adroitly covers this topic and its resolution. Like the Apollo program itself, One Giant Leap is not without its blemishes. Most glaringly is the large amount of repetition between chapters. For example, the interference caused by the lunar landing radar is described in depth multiple times which appears to be an editing oversight. Also, the MIT guidance and control computer is given the lion’s share of the technical spotlight which should have been spread over a broader set of the Apollo systems and components. One Giant Leap is an excellent read which serves as a sobering reminder: If we can put a man on the moon, what problem is really to large to overcome?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    I loved reading this book! The explanation of the science and will to succeed that led to the moon landings is enhanced by the context of history, before, during and after the Apollo years. I was almost 10 years old at the time of Apollo 11 and I remember staying up late to watch the landing on TV. This book illuminates many things I was too young to understand at the time and makes a great argument for regarding the Apollo mission as an amazing success. Highly recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Having so recently read Shoot for the Moon by James Donovan, there will be a few comparisons, but overall, these were very different books. SftM was a linear narrative and I was emotionally vested, where OGL was much more technical and political. The first chapter introduces the world to the decade in which the space program was born. “The eight years from Kennedy’s speech to Armstrong’s first steps were as transformative as any eight-year period in post-World War II American history…” The dawn Having so recently read Shoot for the Moon by James Donovan, there will be a few comparisons, but overall, these were very different books. SftM was a linear narrative and I was emotionally vested, where OGL was much more technical and political. The first chapter introduces the world to the decade in which the space program was born. “The eight years from Kennedy’s speech to Armstrong’s first steps were as transformative as any eight-year period in post-World War II American history…” The dawn of the 1960’s saw technology associated with military applications, but NASA would change that. “The race to the Moon took developments and technologies and trends… and magnified them, accelerated them, and helped make their significance and value clear well beyond space travel.” As I said, the narrative doesn’t take us from the beginning of the decade through the end of Apollo. Rather, each chapter addresses different components or problems that needed to be solved and the individuals who contributed to Apollo’s success. And throughout it all is the immediacy to beat the Russians in the space race. “…Americans don’t associate the Moon landings with the Cold War or see them as a dramatic victory over the Soviet Union… But the race to the Moon was born in the Cold War and wouldn’t have happened when it did, with the urgency it did, without it.” I would say the main theme was how much NASA influenced the technology we have come to take for granted today. There is an entire chapter devoted to the intricacies of the computer and its development. “The Apollo computer had .000002 percent of the computing capacity of the phone in your pocket: two-millionths of 1 percent.” Yet at the time it was the most sophisticated computer ever built. The impact NASA had on integrated circuit chips alone is astounding. In hindsight, it’s hard to fathom that, “The needs of a spaceship computer were just two or three years ahead of the sophisticated technology necessary to make it.” Of course, I loved the trivial tidbits that I read about. I didn’t realize that Playtex (the bra company) designed the space suits. And did you know there was porn on the moon during Apollo 12? The anecdote about GM insisting on designing the lunar rover was cool considering it lead to the discovery of the Genesis Rock (go ahead, Google it, it’s fascinating). The book concluded by disputing the idea that the money spent on the space program could have been better spent on more worthwhile things like fighting poverty or funding education. In comparing it to the far more expensive Vietnam War (especially considering the cost of human life), “Apollo was a success,” where Vietnam was a failure. “It was a demonstration of American technological prowess, a demonstration of engineering and manufacturing excellence; it was a reminder of American economic power and also American determination.” I appreciate that Shoot for the Moon gave me more background on the program prior to reading this because it helped me to better grasp the intricacies that One Great Leap presented. I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robyn Harrison

    So many things I either didn't know or had forgotten about this time in history. It certainly left me with a lot to think about...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joshpherigo

    Landing human beings on the surface of the moon is such an unfathomable achievement that even today, 50 years after it happened, the event has an almost science fiction surrealism to it. When we want to convey the sharpest critique of our failings on Earth we invoke our greatest achievement in space by calling on the phrase “if we can go to the moon, we should be able to...” And isn’t that odd? Shouldn’t our space travel capability be so far advanced now, half a century later, that we look back Landing human beings on the surface of the moon is such an unfathomable achievement that even today, 50 years after it happened, the event has an almost science fiction surrealism to it. When we want to convey the sharpest critique of our failings on Earth we invoke our greatest achievement in space by calling on the phrase “if we can go to the moon, we should be able to...” And isn’t that odd? Shouldn’t our space travel capability be so far advanced now, half a century later, that we look back on the Apollo missions with a kind of whimsical nostalgia? Pride, sure. But shouldn’t it be something akin to watching the Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk and thinking “my, how far we’ve come!” With the moon landings its different. Five decades on, we’ve yet to do better than the awkward, spider-like lunar lander and puffy white space suits. In “One Giant Leap,” author Charles Fishman explores how our leap to the moon manages to exist in the American consciousness as both our most iconic achievement and - because of our inability to move beyond it - as a lasting letdown.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Garone

    Now that I’ve reached the age when I am in the minority of humanity that actually lived the moon landing I needed an inspiration to truly revive my enjoyment and awe of the accomplishment. The author reminds us of the ultimate goal that was a perfect storm of Cold War, paranoia, scientific and cutting edge technology and the journey’s amazing place in history. Living through the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo programs I was living the dream as a kid, building the models and corresponding with Gordon Coope Now that I’ve reached the age when I am in the minority of humanity that actually lived the moon landing I needed an inspiration to truly revive my enjoyment and awe of the accomplishment. The author reminds us of the ultimate goal that was a perfect storm of Cold War, paranoia, scientific and cutting edge technology and the journey’s amazing place in history. Living through the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo programs I was living the dream as a kid, building the models and corresponding with Gordon Cooper one of the astronauts. Fishbern sets the moon landing in context of social, political and educational standards and teaches us the “why” we went so fast, and so insistently. Great read for those who lived it and a great historical recap of one of our great achievements.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    One Giant Leap is a story of how and why the United States of America beat the Soviet Union to the moon. It tells why by detailing the sociological, economic and political background during the 1950s into the 1960s that made the effort necessary. The Cold War was a dominant factor in citizens’ consciousnesses...and America was lagging behind their enemy! Freedom or tyranny was at stake! The writing is not pretentious. Although well researched, the book is easy to follow and filled with lots of i One Giant Leap is a story of how and why the United States of America beat the Soviet Union to the moon. It tells why by detailing the sociological, economic and political background during the 1950s into the 1960s that made the effort necessary. The Cold War was a dominant factor in citizens’ consciousnesses...and America was lagging behind their enemy! Freedom or tyranny was at stake! The writing is not pretentious. Although well researched, the book is easy to follow and filled with lots of interesting facts, such as how many of the critical elements like astronauts’ space suits were sewn by hand, how the wire that carried the computer instructions was hand woven into the circuits, and how pictures of Playboy Playmates made the trip. For this reader who lived through the period it was a wonderful refresher course of the history occurring in my younger years...Vietnam, civil rights, and the assassinations of Medgar Evers, the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King. The book recounts the debate within the Kennedy administration, the meetings, the players, LBJ’s role, how James Webb was selected to head NASA. Once the decision was made the how do we do this questions began. The technology simply didn’t exist. Weight was an issue because as the author points out it took three pounds of fuel to launch one pound of supplies. Navigation problems had to be addressed, current computing capabilities had to be overcome. The chapters on the development of an interactive computer and how to program it alone are worth the price of this book. Methods to keep the astronauts alive going, during and returning had to be designed...spacesuits, cabin atmosphere, the ability to rendezvous, a functional heat shield, the lunar lander and a vehicle to explore the moon’s surface. Focusing on the unsung engineers, mathematicians, suppliers, as well as the politics behind the Apollo project’s ultimate success that seldom are showcased adds great depth to the biggest story of this reader’s lifetime. It was expensive, but was it worth the cost? The last two scheduled missions were canceled because of budget concerns, so was all that expended effort worthwhile? What exactly was gained? I voluntarily reviewed an advance copy of this book. Most highly recommend.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Everydayreader1

    On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy announced, in a speech to a joint session of Congress, the commitment to land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth, before the decade was out. Charles Fishman tells the remarkable journey of this effort, from beginning to end. Audacious, some called President Kennedy's plan. Others thought it was impossible. Some thought it absolutely something we should do. It's all here in this remarkable book, along with the stories of many at NASA, MIT and other On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy announced, in a speech to a joint session of Congress, the commitment to land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth, before the decade was out. Charles Fishman tells the remarkable journey of this effort, from beginning to end. Audacious, some called President Kennedy's plan. Others thought it was impossible. Some thought it absolutely something we should do. It's all here in this remarkable book, along with the stories of many at NASA, MIT and other key players. I think this is perhaps the most remarkable "space" book I've read. It almost reads like a science fiction novel, except every word is true. What really stands out to me is that when President Kennedy set landing on the moon in motion, no one really had a clear plan of how to do so, let alone the scientific know how, tools and technology to do this--and yet so many talented men and women begin to develop these tools, computers, space vehicles--everything needed--all in less than a decade. And, even more remarkable, Mr. Fishman explains how these developments not only put man on the moon and returned him safely to earth, but also ushered in the digital age. I daresay, were it not for the space program, I would not be writing these comments today, or, perhaps, not even had the great pleasure to read this most excellent book in an accessible digital electronic format. This, I think, will always fill me with such excitement and thankfulness. And all the technology has been developed in my lifetime. I highly recommend this book. Even if you do not have a particular interest in space travel, you will enjoy this book. It is not just about space and the moon landing on July 20, 1969, it is about the tenacity of the human spirit to grow, expand and explore. So many people came together to make the moon landings possible. As Barack Obama said in 2008, "Yes we can." That's what we in America said when the decision to go for the moon was made. Thank you, Mr. Fishman, for preserving this remarkable story for us and future generations to read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com

    For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: http://www.ManOfLaBook.com One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon by Charles Fishman tells the story of the Americans who fought tooth and nail to accomplish the task of sending me to the moon, and bringing them safely back to Earth. I’ve read many books about the space program, not nearly as much as other enthusiasts, but enough to hold on to a simple conversation. Being that this year is the 50th anniversary of the moon la For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: http://www.ManOfLaBook.com One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon by Charles Fishman tells the story of the Americans who fought tooth and nail to accomplish the task of sending me to the moon, and bringing them safely back to Earth. I’ve read many books about the space program, not nearly as much as other enthusiasts, but enough to hold on to a simple conversation. Being that this year is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, an event which to me is still as exciting as it was back then, there is a lot of material, much of it new (to me) being published. I had no idea what to expect from One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon by Charles Fishman, I thought that it would be another book, rehashing to space program up to the mid-1970s, than complaining about the lack of advancement, than making a push for lunar exploration/meteor excavation/space tourism/Mars mission. What I got instead was a behind the scenes stories of those that help get men to the moon, several cool anecdotes (the American flag was an afterthought) and the impact the space program had, which we feel to this day. The extraordinary book starts with something that I’ve been actually wandering about for a while: what does the moon smell like? This was my favorite part because I could imagine myself sitting with astronauts telling this very personal story. The author goes on to describe how NASA had to invent management processes for such a huge project, which involved up to 20,000 separate companies, all told from the perspective of a few people in upper management. A very interesting, insightful, and readable section which could very easily be made into its own book. Even though people these days don’t realize it, we all benefited from the space program, the book has a whole section which tells of the earthly accomplishments be it ball point pens of the sharp drop in computer chips which help usher in the digital age much quicker. As in everything, there is the bad side as well, the huge amount of money spent on the space program could have been used elsewhere (even though, that’s not how it works), the book does not shy away from this issue either, and, while not discussing it in depth, at least acknowledges that it exists. More than anything, this book puts the Apollo mission in the social and political context of today’s world. The immense achievements we live with today, the inspiration of generations and management of large projects are just a few things which we owe to the space program.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marina

    This was the perfect book to read (listen to) at the perfect time. Coming up on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing (and there were A LOT of new publications to choose from) and also the Apollo 11/astronaut themed puzzle room at my library. I really liked how this book was separated into sections based on the necessary science, political, and national advances needed to succeed. There were so many advancements in technology and science during that decade of racing to the moon it's amazing. This was the perfect book to read (listen to) at the perfect time. Coming up on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing (and there were A LOT of new publications to choose from) and also the Apollo 11/astronaut themed puzzle room at my library. I really liked how this book was separated into sections based on the necessary science, political, and national advances needed to succeed. There were so many advancements in technology and science during that decade of racing to the moon it's amazing. I think the one aspect that amazed me the most was the drastic change in size and makeup of the computers used. To be on board the command and lunar modules they had to be very weight conscious as well as making sure it had an almost 0% failure rate. So it had to be made smaller and more nimble. Going from transistors to integrated circuits during that time was a huge risk and it paid off. Not only did they keep testing and advancing the technology they made it affordable for regular people. In the 10 years of progress, the chips used at MIT (made by Texas Instruments) started out at $1000 each and were all they way down to $1.58 in 1969. As the author states, this probably would have happened and we'd still have our smartphones but would it have been farther in the future?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mathew Madsen

    I went in expecting a play-by-play of the events leading up to and surrounding Neal Armstrong's famous words, but I got so much more. One Giant Leap provides not only a good overview of the moon missions, but a fascinating behind the scenes look at 1960s era NASA as a whole. From international geopolitical analysis and awe-inspiring stories to plain old domestic politics and amusing anecdotes, this book has it all. I learned a lot and came away with a new appreciation for everything it took to l I went in expecting a play-by-play of the events leading up to and surrounding Neal Armstrong's famous words, but I got so much more. One Giant Leap provides not only a good overview of the moon missions, but a fascinating behind the scenes look at 1960s era NASA as a whole. From international geopolitical analysis and awe-inspiring stories to plain old domestic politics and amusing anecdotes, this book has it all. I learned a lot and came away with a new appreciation for everything it took to land the Eagle on the lunar surface. Through a coordinated effort of hundreds of thousands, NASA started from less than zero and ended up with a grand testament to the indomitable human spirit and desire to discover. They didn't even know what they didn't know about what you needed to know to fly to the moon, but they learned. The biggest thing I take from this book is that we as a country, and even as individuals, can do big, daunting things that appear impossible. We need some of the spirit that drove Kennedy to say "We choose to go to the moon...and to do these other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Overall I thought this was a great read. I learned lots of new facts about the program, and really enjoyed learned about many of the essential enabling technologies that aren’t talked about as much (e.g. Draper’s navigation system, Raytheon’s core rope memory and the amazing computers) and amazing personalities (John Houbolt, Doc Draper, Bill Tindall). The author had a tendency to repeat facts a few times n more detail than I felt warranted; I can se describing something and then making callback Overall I thought this was a great read. I learned lots of new facts about the program, and really enjoyed learned about many of the essential enabling technologies that aren’t talked about as much (e.g. Draper’s navigation system, Raytheon’s core rope memory and the amazing computers) and amazing personalities (John Houbolt, Doc Draper, Bill Tindall). The author had a tendency to repeat facts a few times n more detail than I felt warranted; I can se describing something and then making callbacks to it. But he often seemed to think we couldn’t remember what made something important and would spend (in my mind) unnecessary time reviewing it some detail. I thought the flag chapter was too long; the engineering done to include was interesting but not worthy of a whole chapter. I’d have preferred he spent the same amount of detail on the rover instead. Whereas I think his overall premise was good (Apollo signaled the start of the digital age more than anything else) I felt the final chapter summed that up in an inconsistent fashion. I would definitely recommend to anyone wishing to learn more about the enabling tech on Apollo and why it ushered in digital age.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    On July 20, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. And so I read Charles Fishman’s brilliant new book, One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon, a meticulously researched history entwined with vivid details that tell a fast-paced story. Fishman begins by telling us the moon has a smell. After walking on the moon, the astronauts, Neil Armstrong and and Buzz Aldrin, noticed the dust they had tracked in smelled “like wet ashes,” or like “a firecracker” that ha On July 20, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. And so I read Charles Fishman’s brilliant new book, One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon, a meticulously researched history entwined with vivid details that tell a fast-paced story. Fishman begins by telling us the moon has a smell. After walking on the moon, the astronauts, Neil Armstrong and and Buzz Aldrin, noticed the dust they had tracked in smelled “like wet ashes,” or like “a firecracker” that had gone off. Did you know that John F. Kennedy was, in some respects, responsible for the moon landing? In 1961 he told reporters at a press conference that Americans would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. In part, this was a reaction to the Cold War space race: Russians had just sent the first man into space, and Europeans were mocking the Americans.  Kennedy’s advisors and NASA scientists had first confirmed to him that putting a man on the moon was the only way to beat the Russians. This was an incredible achievement. In 1961 NASA had not done even the preliminary researh for travel to the moon, so hundreds of thousands of scientists, engineers, MIT geniuses, seamstresses, computer whizzes, craftsmen, and builders worked together. The craftsmanship was prodigious. The spaceship was built by hand, women were hired to knit the wires for the computer by hand, the Playtex bra company designed the space suits and women sewed them by hand , and the parachutes were also sewed by hand.  And eight years the first men landed on the moon. Fishman stresses that the Apollo missions had a revolutionary effect on the culture of the ‘60s, which simultaneously embraced rock music, the Civil Rights movement, the Women’s movement, the environmental movement, protests against the war in Vietnam, science, science fiction, popular TV shows like Star Trek, Lost in Space, and  Laugh-in.  It was a time of daring and boldness, as well as a time of the terrible tragedies of the assassinations of JFK, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. And  NASA drove the computer chip business, which powered the space shuttle computers and drove the price of chips way down,  which drove the market for home computers eventually.  The chips began to be used in electronic appliances.  Before Apollo 11, transistors were cheaper. The trip to the moon was hailed by some as thrilling and necessary, by others a waste of money. But Fishman points out that the money spent on Apollo 11 would never have gone to the fighting of poverty and other important issues anyway. I learned so much from Fishman’s book.  An excellent page-turner!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Matt Day

    The book was very in-depth and I learned a great deal about the Apollo project. The author was a tad repetitive in his facts. I will say that I listen to the audio version of the book and sometimes audiobooks are heard differently than when they are read. I was disappointed that more time was not spent on the Apollo 13 mission. As the author said, the Apollo 13 mission was a major accomplishment for NASA in the fact that all three astronauts were returned safely home. I would have liked to have The book was very in-depth and I learned a great deal about the Apollo project. The author was a tad repetitive in his facts. I will say that I listen to the audio version of the book and sometimes audiobooks are heard differently than when they are read. I was disappointed that more time was not spent on the Apollo 13 mission. As the author said, the Apollo 13 mission was a major accomplishment for NASA in the fact that all three astronauts were returned safely home. I would have liked to have heard how they did it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Scott Martin

    (3.5 Stars) (Audiobook) This book is one of many that has hit the shelves in the days/months leading up to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landings. This work takes the approaches of trying to debunk or clarify much of the mythology and misconceptions surrounding the Apollo 11 mission. To do that those, Fishman takes the reader on a survey of the history of US manned space flight, describing the advancements of the USSR and how it drove the US towards the goal of putting a man on the (3.5 Stars) (Audiobook) This book is one of many that has hit the shelves in the days/months leading up to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landings. This work takes the approaches of trying to debunk or clarify much of the mythology and misconceptions surrounding the Apollo 11 mission. To do that those, Fishman takes the reader on a survey of the history of US manned space flight, describing the advancements of the USSR and how it drove the US towards the goal of putting a man on the moon. Yet, such an endeavor was hardly an easy action. For getting men on the moon, and being able to get them back safely, the US needed to develop new technologies, needed tons of money and a lot of political will to make it happen. The US did, but it took a lot of work, and it was not always a certainty that the US could do it. Kennedy didn't embrace space in the way his speeches did, the idea of using a lunar module was not a given, and the nation was not always "all-in" on this quest. Fishman does offer good insight and a lot of detailed stories. Yet, he tends to jump around in the work. He starts out chronological, but then will jump around to address various themes, discussing events and actions that occurred long after Apollo 11...only to then go back to cover a different theme, and jump around in the chronological order. This somewhat scattershot organization of the work could make it hard to follow at times, and weakens the overall rating. The audiobook reader is solid, neither adding to or detracting from the work. There are a plethora of books out there about Apollo 11. I don't know if I could say that this work falls under the cliche "if you only read one book...", but this is a solid read that will offer a good balance of technical, political and personal histories.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Robert Carver

    The best overview of Apollo yet Fishman does an excellent job of digging down into the obscure details of the Apollo Program to bring us a fresh perspective on this historic effort. He places Apollo in the context of its time and place in American history. He provides great detail on what Apollo was and wasn't in an understandable and entertaining fashion. If there is one book you should own as a fan of the space program, this is it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    I was impressed by this review of the Apollo mission. It focuses on a few achievements more behind the scenes rather than on a chronology of what happened with each flight. How did President Kennedy choose a moon landing as a goal? How did they develop the computers to fly to the moon? Why did they choose the lunar orbit rendezvous as the way to land on the moon? It also tries to answer the questions about whether the Apollo mission was worth the time and money spent on it. (Spoiler alert: it wa I was impressed by this review of the Apollo mission. It focuses on a few achievements more behind the scenes rather than on a chronology of what happened with each flight. How did President Kennedy choose a moon landing as a goal? How did they develop the computers to fly to the moon? Why did they choose the lunar orbit rendezvous as the way to land on the moon? It also tries to answer the questions about whether the Apollo mission was worth the time and money spent on it. (Spoiler alert: it was).

  19. 4 out of 5

    JL

    One of the best books I've read (and I've read many) about Apollo 11, the Apollo missions, and the Space Age. I learned several new details about the mission I hadn't known before. Fascinating details above the development of the Apollo Guidance Computers, and the software within. Covers the engineering, science and political/geopolitical background. Excellent.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Excellent! It is amazing that we went to the moon so quickly. No one had a clue about how to accomplish this. My brothers and I stayed up to watch on tv. Walter Cronkite told us how to set up our camera to take a picture of Armstrong’s first step on the moon. And, it worked ! I just wish I knew where that picture is. It was an incredibly fantastic, exciting time.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Trina

    I couldn't quite give this three stars. This book was not what I expected or wanted to read. I believed it would be a chronology of the space race but it wasn't that. While parts are very interesting and I learned from it, it was too long and ultimately I wouldn't recommend it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Vickie Backus

    well written and full of fun interesting facts. great celebration of the program

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ken Hamner

    Outstanding book. One of the best I’ve read on any subject. A must read for anyone interested in history, politics, business and technology.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ted Mccormack

    This book will tell you many things you did not know about the Apollo space program and the impact it had on American life from the 1960's until today. We use technology every day that was invented for the first landing on the moon.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jay Pruitt

    "No other act of human exploration ever laid a plaque saying We come in peace for all mankind." --Neil deGrasse Tyson-- Released to coincide with the 50-year anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon walk, One Giant Leap tells the story of how a nation is challenged to do the impossible. As a young boy with his model Saturn V rocket and detachable lunar module in hand, I was among the 600 MILLION viewers who stayed up until 11pm on July 20, 1969 to see Neil Armstrong take a giant leap for mankind "No other act of human exploration ever laid a plaque saying We come in peace for all mankind." --Neil deGrasse Tyson-- Released to coincide with the 50-year anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon walk, One Giant Leap tells the story of how a nation is challenged to do the impossible. As a young boy with his model Saturn V rocket and detachable lunar module in hand, I was among the 600 MILLION viewers who stayed up until 11pm on July 20, 1969 to see Neil Armstrong take a giant leap for mankind. Nations from around the globe, particularly free nations who opposed communism, cheered the astronauts on. However, few realize the daunting challenges which were overcome to make this event happen. This book does an amazing job of laying it all out there, without getting bogged in technicalities. In the early 1960s, on the heel of embarrassments of Russia being the first country to venture into space, as well as the Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba, JFK stuck out his (political) neck by challenging the US to put a man on the moon before 1970. We know from private tapes that JFK actually had little interest in space exploration. However, he felt very strongly that America couldn't afford to let the communists plant the first flag on the moon. We must remember that many nations, particularly in Asia and South America, were on the fence in deciding between communism and democracy. JFK took on this costly endeavor, despite opposition within his own Democratic party - which preferred that the $billions be spent on domestic needs. Then there was the technology. When JFK announced the mission, none were more surprised than NASA. Russian canines had more spacetime experience than Americans! We didn't have the rockets, launchpads, spacesuits or computers which would need to be designed. We did have Wernher von Braun, the famous Nazi rocket engineer. But no one could fathom what it would take to send a rocket to the moon, land on the moon, take off from the moon, and land on earth. Each of these required massive amounts of fuel. In fact, you needed more fuel to lift the massive tanks (of fuel) out of the atmosphere. Then a clever, but ridiculed, NASA engineer came up with the notion of Lunar Orbit Rendezvous (LOR), which allowed huge weight/fuel savings. Then there was designing a computer required to make complicated orbital mechanics calculations. Keep in mind that at the time this was all being designed, 96% of Americans were still using rotary-dial phones. Few people had actually flown in an airplane, as commercial airlines were just being formed. Computers were the size of rooms. NASA wanted one which would fit into a one-foot cube. "Software" was unsophisticated. This was the age of transistor tubes. So, NASA programmed with "hardware" - for every 0 or 1 of a program, there was a wire needed (over 500,000 in total), all weaved together in a complicated nest by a specially-trained group of women. Space navigation was an unknown skill. Orbital rendezvous, in particular, was counterintuitive. Unlike what pilots were accustomed to, aiming your vessel at on orbiting spaceship and applying rocket force to narrow the gap generally has the opposite effect. Ironically, the correct maneuver would likely be to instead slow down, which drops you into a lower orbit and caused your vessel to speed up! This is above my pay grade. Then there's the political will of a nation, weary of Vietnam and struggling with civil rights. Ironically, if JFK wasn't assassinated, it's likely we wouldn't have landed on the moon. The death of our fallen president become the rally cry to achieving his goal. One Giant Leap brings the climate of the times and the challenges of this goal to life. Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to give my unbiased review of this excellent book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Realms & Robots

    One Giant Leap tells the story of the moon landing from a behind-the-scenes perspective, leaving the big picture plot points behind for the nitty gritty details many of us are unaware of. To say the trip to the Moon was a difficult task would be an understatement. The narrative shows the moon landing as one of those impossible tasks your overbearing boss sets for you, assuming you can complete it in a quarter of the necessary time, on budget and in a race with your primary competitor. It’s a fas One Giant Leap tells the story of the moon landing from a behind-the-scenes perspective, leaving the big picture plot points behind for the nitty gritty details many of us are unaware of. To say the trip to the Moon was a difficult task would be an understatement. The narrative shows the moon landing as one of those impossible tasks your overbearing boss sets for you, assuming you can complete it in a quarter of the necessary time, on budget and in a race with your primary competitor. It’s a fascinating take on a story that has become the most behemoth American legend since the revolution. I was most impressed with the author’s juxtaposition of American culture alongside the complexities of creating a space program from scratch. We’ve heard all about the takeoff, the first steps, and the flag going into the ground, but it’s hard to grasp the feeling of the nation as these things were taking place. It was one of the most volatile times in our history, and the book highlights every detail of the public’s unwillingness to support spaceflight in the middle of multiple wars and the every present threat of the Soviet Union. We get a focus on Kennedy and the reasons why he was so adamant we make it to the moon and back. We see the multiple advances in spaceflight prior to the moon landing along with the cultural mindset revolving around those events. The race to space was a grueling journey against scientific capabilities, budgetary constraints, and a lack of public support. It really is remarkable the space program every really took off. The author takes the story down to the personal level, often leaving behind the major players to focus on the many men and women who worked countless hours to make the mission happen. We get the perspective of the spacesuit designers and their anxiety as the astronauts hopped around in their brand new suits. We learn about the horrors of a missing hyphen and how it can destroy an exorbitantly expensive spaceship. Above all, we see how hard people worked and how that teamwork made the biggest difference in the end. Overall, One Giant Leap is an excellent look at what it takes to complete an impossible journey to an impossible destination. NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This is a fantastic, detailed, fabulous look at America and what America did to put men on the moon. It was amazing and so in-depth. I loved it from start to finish. I loved the details, just the shear breadth of the scope of the subject Fishman covers. It is extraordinary, and the best part is his optimism. He evinces such faith in us as a nation, as a people. The end touches on a little on the preachy. Fishman wants us to find that focus and achieve that greatness again. In some part this dist This is a fantastic, detailed, fabulous look at America and what America did to put men on the moon. It was amazing and so in-depth. I loved it from start to finish. I loved the details, just the shear breadth of the scope of the subject Fishman covers. It is extraordinary, and the best part is his optimism. He evinces such faith in us as a nation, as a people. The end touches on a little on the preachy. Fishman wants us to find that focus and achieve that greatness again. In some part this distracts from the story of what we did. In some part, it is so refreshing to see that kind of optimism and faith. We did the moon landing; we did the moon landing years before we were capable of it; years before we had the kind of technology we needed. We did this; we are capable of anything. At the same time, the sheer depth of details, the attention to all that had to come together to make this work, to make this leap, is truly astonishing. It requires so much determination, strength of will and purpose, concerted effort, that we shouldn’t be surprised that it is hard; that it is a rare event; and that we maybe haven’t been quite able to replicate this extraordinary achievement. I also loved the way he shows the unsung advances that happened and were achieved because of the moon landing. Fishman’s logical conclusions regarding the way the technology NASA needed to get us to the moon brought the age of computers; the age of the internet; the age of wireless technology; advanced it so much more rapidly, and with such stringent focus. We probably would have gotten here in the end, but how much longer would it have taken us. And all this under the direction, and to honor a man, who wasn’t all that interested in space. It is an astonishing story.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Fr. Ted

    In some ways the book is a reverse engineering project - we got to the moon, so what did it take to get there? A lot of fascinating things to think about - when President Kennedy set the moon as the goal for spaceflight, America not only lacked the rocket to do it, we really didn't know exactly how to do it in terms of engineering and technology, nor did we even know the math to get there. The book looks at how the space program pushed technology enough to make technology a household necessity. In some ways the book is a reverse engineering project - we got to the moon, so what did it take to get there? A lot of fascinating things to think about - when President Kennedy set the moon as the goal for spaceflight, America not only lacked the rocket to do it, we really didn't know exactly how to do it in terms of engineering and technology, nor did we even know the math to get there. The book looks at how the space program pushed technology enough to make technology a household necessity. The book presents the challenges and how they were dealt with step by step, how big government (yet not he military) accomplished a great thing that pulled the entire country into a technological era. The last chapter, which was long, was an apology for the space program and how it shaped our lives today not only technologically (but this can't be underestimated) but also politically for the space race crowned capitalism/democracy as the winner over communism. I still however am not convinced by all the arguments that investing in human space flight will reap more immediate benefits than investing in robotic space exploration. My sense is that if we master robotic space exploration, that will pave the way for human space flight by setting up on other planets "things" humans will need when they get there.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    A behind-the-scenes look at the race to complete the mission to the moon with a focus on the engineers and the “ordinary Americans” who made the dream a reality. Each hour of spaceflight required one million hours of work on Earth to put astronauts on the surface of the moon. When President Kennedy announced the goal in 1961, America had a grand total of fifteen minutes of spaceflight to its credit. And only five of those minutes were above the atmosphere of our home planet. NASA suddenly had a A behind-the-scenes look at the race to complete the mission to the moon with a focus on the engineers and the “ordinary Americans” who made the dream a reality. Each hour of spaceflight required one million hours of work on Earth to put astronauts on the surface of the moon. When President Kennedy announced the goal in 1961, America had a grand total of fifteen minutes of spaceflight to its credit. And only five of those minutes were above the atmosphere of our home planet. NASA suddenly had a very few years to figure out how to make spaceflight work. No one knew what the moon was like. No one knew how to make computers small enough to fit inside space capsules. No one knew how to build a rocket that would get men to the moon. It would take more than 400,000 engineers, scientists, factory workers to send astronauts to the moon. This book is a tribute to those men and women. A bibliography for further reading is included. Highly recommended.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Todd

    The book covers the political history and scientific advancements that lead to the Apollo missions and the eventual moon landing. The story is fascinating and I learned a lot about NASA and the achievements, work, and dedication that was required for the moon landing to be a success. Here are a couple fun facts: there is more computing power in a single smartphone today than the computers NASA used for the moon landing. There were two presidential speeches written months in advance of the moon l The book covers the political history and scientific advancements that lead to the Apollo missions and the eventual moon landing. The story is fascinating and I learned a lot about NASA and the achievements, work, and dedication that was required for the moon landing to be a success. Here are a couple fun facts: there is more computing power in a single smartphone today than the computers NASA used for the moon landing. There were two presidential speeches written months in advance of the moon landing one for a success and one incase the astronauts wouldn't be able to make it back from space. The people that sewed together and made the space suits were considered so valuable that they weren't allowed to ride in the same car as one another for fear of a deadly car accident. If you're a science, science fiction, or history buff then this book is definitely worth checking out.

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