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Hardcover First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong Book

ISBN: 074325631X

ISBN13: 9780743256315

First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

Soon to be a major motion picture, this is the first--and only--definitive authorized account of Neil Armstrong, the man whose "one small step" changed history.When Apollo 11 touched down on the... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Roughly Two 1/2 hours on the Moon Visit.

One Small Step took two and a half hours. "First Man" takes a giant leap into the personal abyss of what is known of Neil Armstrong's private life; which is what makes this book unique amongst all other books that were written in unauthorized fashion about the man. Armstrong was the first human being to ever step foot atop the lunar surface back in June of 1969 - making real President John F. Kennedy's big technological dream of sending a man to the moon and bringing him back safely within the end of the decade. Armstrong was his own person, not bowing to any other person's moods or demeanors. He was a dryly technical person who could trouble shoot and fly highly specialized aircraft like none other. He also came face-to-face with death a time or two before his big Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Armstrong lost many a close friend in fiery explosions and technical errors that were part of the Apollo journey. He himself had his share of injuries and accidents, but none of it was to interfere with his greatest achievement; landing first on the Moon. It was as if God appointed him since before his own birth to hold this distinction amongst all great pioneers. Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon....Buzz Aldrin was second, and holds the distinction of being the only astronaut properly photographed on the surface of the moon. Michael Collins was the fly-over man who completed the mission. All three men will be famous for all time: they referred to themselves as, "Amiable strangers." They weren't especially close friends, but they were able to work for hours alongside of one another, highly focused on the tasks at hand and eager to fulfill the mission in the most professional manner. This book starts out very dry....the first 16 chapters are chock full of reviewed technical details that are, in my opinion, quite tedious to read over. I didn't fully understand all those intricate details that were printed in this fine book, and I feel that pages and pages of these details do not contributable to the overall story of Neil Armstrong's life. But then again - every detail is important in the face and consideration of history. Mankind may never step foot on the moon ever again. A book written like this one preserves forever these tiny details for future dissection of this important mission, and the most famous triad of in the history of space exploration. Chapters 17 through 25 start the ball rolling and we come to understand the extreme training and human endeavors that Armstrong had to face and conquer before his big mission. The decision to place Armstrong first on the Moon was discussed at length in this section of the book. Aldrin really wanted the honor very badly, but this was not meant to be. Perhaps the most stellar of all ideology and essays conjured up in this book are contained in Chapter 26, "Dialectics of a Moon Mission." In this chapter, the author, James Hansen, attempts to describe Armstrong's persona and how

Armstrong is still centered

I've never bought for an instant that Neil Armstrong was a recluse. I guess that compared to the celebrity driven world we live in today many are hardpressed to understand why Armstong didn't cash in on his celebrity....didn't sell his soul for a few minutes of fame. Reading First Man, The Life of Neil A. Armstrong is a refreshing glimpse into the life of one of the most significant individuals of the 20th Century. I'm amazed at how indifferent we all became over not only spaceflight, but manned flights to the moon and then landing and getting back alive. James Hansen has brought it all back. Wonderfully written with generous doses of Armstongism's, First Man is a terrific review and expose of the 20th century. More importantly, we are given a wonderful tour of the life and times of Neil Armstrong. From his birth to what he's doing today......its all here. You appreciate what a cool customer Armstrong really was as you sit in Apollo 11 with him waiting for the engines to kick in. Hansen not only gives us a well written story about Armstrong, he does it in a professional manner. Copious endnotes, bibliographies, lists of interviews, email messages....its all here. The documentation is refreshing especially the way so many biographies are put together today. I'm impressed and I highly recommend this biography to any space enthusiast.

Space: The Final Frontier

Hansen has penned an epic look at the life of Neil Armstrong and the early history of unmanned and manned flights to the moon. His look is both telescopic and microscopic. Telescopic in the grandeur of its scope, moving from 500 years ago in Armstrong's ancestral Scotland to Armstrong's life today, and everything in between. Microscopic in the detail of its scope, examining every cell of Armstrong's life from his mother's character, to his boyhood fascination with engineering, to his early training, to his relationship, to his inner thoughts and feelings. Weighing in at a hefty 784 pages, "First Man" is a heavyweight edition to the growing historical biographies about manned space flight. Armstrong, notoriously private, opens his life to Hansen leading to many surprising revelations, especially the details of the Gemini 8 emergency which reads like a Ronnie Howard Apollo 13 script. "The Life of Neil A. Armstrong" dips equally into his career and his character. At times the mind-boggling vocational details are over-presented, slowing down an otherwise gripping historical narrative. Counterintuitively, the most compelling narratives occur on earth, not in the heavens. Hansen's account of the death of Karen Armstrong, Neil's daughter, personalizes the engineer into the father. His account of Armstrong's divorce from Janet personalizes the engineer into the human being. Reading "First Man" feels like having the visor lifted from Armstrong's Apollo 11 spacesuit. We glimpse the man behind the mission, and the mission of the man. Reviewer: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., is the author of "Soul Physicians," "Spiritual Friends," and "Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction."


James R. Hansen, a specialist in the history of science and technology and author of eight books plus numerous articles, brings not only professional expertise but insight to his authorized biography of Neil A. Armstrong. Veteran voice performer Boyd Gaines gives a studied, well paced reading, and a special bonus includes actual NASA recordings. Many well remember the Apollo 11 mission - it's a thrill to relive that time and come to know the man who, as his foot first touched the moon's surface, said, "That's one small step for man but one giant leap for mankind." Of course, upon Armstrong's return to Earth he was lauded, honored, and idolized for his unparalleled achievement. According to Hansen, this was not a position with which Armstrong was comfortable. The astronaut was one who was much more interested in flying than celebrity. Details of Armstrong's career are readily available - his accomplishments as a combat pilot, engineer, and test pilot are a matter of public record. However, access to Armstrong's private papers and in-depth interviews with his subject are what makes Hansen's account unique and fascinating. According to Armstrong's mother her son was destined to make this epic journey. Whatever the case, Neil Armstrong will forever be known as our first space traveler - his story is an important part of our country's history and merits our attention. - Gail Cooke

Visor lifted on astronaut's life in First Man

In a powerful bit of foreshadowing, the moment that made Neil Armstrong famous came at a time when his face was blocked by a reflective visor and no clear photographs of him were taken. In fact, the only visual records of his becoming the first human to walk on the Moon are a low quality black and white television transmission and a 16 milimeter color film taken from afar and above. Much the same could be said to describe the view Neil Armstrong has allowed the public into his life since that day in July 1969. Mislabeled as a recluse by the general public and press, Armstrong didn't retract from the world; rather, he followed his moonwalk with a relatively quick return to normal life instead of the role as a celebrity many had expected and some of his peers had embraced. After more than 35 years of avoiding public introspection, it may have also been assumed that Armstrong was as happy living out his rest of his time on earth with just as little fanfare. It's that very reason why "First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong" by James Hansen is so remarkable. Armstrong didn't just authorize a biography being written, as if not caring how it ultimately read, rather he opened his entire life to Hansen, from the 50 hours of interviews he took part in, to encouraging his friends, family and colleagues to cooperate. The result is a book that not only explains the "first" in its title - as other books about the Apollo program have done before - but also the "man" that was behind the visor, a first in its own right. Hansen uses the unprecendented access he had gained to offer a comprehensive account of Armstrong's journey from his youth to naval aviator, research pilot to astronaut to ultimately an icon and family man. The level of detail surpasses at times what one would expect from even the most researched of profiles. For example, while discussing Armstrong's training with the Navy, Hansen shares not only the memories of class mates but performance records from individual flights or "hops". "July 8 [1949] (A-2): Average to above. Student looks around very good & appears to be at ease. Applies instructions above average." Hansen uses this approach - citing personal documents - whenever possible, granting the reader access to papers generally held as private. This extends to such disparate themes as Armstrong's relationship with his parents to the details of his two flights into space. For the average biographical subject, this insight would amend previously disclosed details; for Armstrong, these offer fresh light on full passages of the moonwalker's life. The reader learns how others viewed Armstrong at the time of the event(s), offering the untainted perspective that apparently became common after Armstrong landed on the Moon. Indeed, one of the most fascinating aspects of "First Man" is how much time is spent correcting misconceptions or even outright lies about Armstrong's dealings with others. More than a few people who knew Armstrong - a
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