First Man

First Man

The Life of Neil A. Armstrong

Book - 2005
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On July 20, 1969, the world stood still to watch thirty-eight-year-old American astronaut Neil A. Armstrong become the first person ever to step on the surface of another heavenly body. Perhaps no words in human history became better known than those few he uttered at that historic moment.Upon his return to Earth, Armstrong was honored and celebrated for his monumental achievement. He was also -- as James R. Hansen reveals in this fascinating and important authorized biography -- misunderstood. Armstrong's accomplishments as an engineer, a test pilot, and an astronaut have long been a matter of record, but Hansen's unprecedented access to private documents and unpublished sources and his interviews with more than 125 subjects (including more than fifty hours with Armstrong himself) yield this first in-depth analysis of an elusive American celebrity still renowned the world over.In a riveting narrative filled with revelations, Hansen vividly re-creates Armstrong's career in flying, from his seventy-eight combat missions as a naval aviator flying over North Korea to his formative transatmospheric flights in the rocket-powered X-15 to his piloting Gemini VIII to the first-ever docking in space. These milestones made it seem, as Armstrong's mother, Viola, memorably put it, "as if from the very moment he was born -- farther back still -- that our son was somehow destined for the Apollo 11 mission."For a pilot who cared more about flying to the Moon than he did about walking on it, Hansen asserts, Armstrong's storied vocation exacted a dear personal toll, paid in kind by his wife and children. For the thirty-six years since the Moon landing, rumors have swirled around Armstrong concerning his dreams of space travel, his religious beliefs, and his private life.In a penetrating exploration of American hero worship, Hansen addresses the complex legacy of the First Man, as an astronaut and as an individual. InFirst Man,the personal, technological, epic, and iconic blend to form the portrait of a great but reluctant hero who will forever be known as history's most famous space traveler.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Simon & Schuster, c2005.
ISBN: 9780743256315
074325631X
Characteristics: xi, 769 p. :,ill.

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m
MT60
Oct 23, 2012

I started reading this book within a week after Neil Armstrong died. The length concerned me at first, but I dug in. Author Hansen subjects the reader to tedious detail at times, but this makes for a more complete picture of the man. Reveals Armstrong to have been a thinker who also took decisive action; a brave combat and test pilot who also was a calm engineer. Also reveals him not to have been the recluse he was reputed to be. Very active as professor, head or board member of charitable organizations, civic leader, etc. Just did not make himself very accessible to the media.

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jmkrasner Feb 22, 2014

Somewhere between 750,000 and 1 million people, the largest crowd ever for a space launch, gathered at Florida’s Cape Kennedy in the days leading to Wednesday, July 16, 1969. Nearly a thousand policemen, state troopers, and waterborne state conservation patrolmen struggled through the previous night to keep an estimated 350,000 cars and boats flowing on the roads and waterways. One enterprising state auto inspector leased two miles of roadside from orange growers, charging two bucks a head for viewing privileges.

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