Apollo 8


Who doesn’t like a bit of space travel? The number of people who follow every SpaceX launch tells you it’s still something that can hold the public’s attention.

The majesty seems to have been lost a little though, as if going to space has become routine, which is definitely is not.

Apollo 8 was the first mission that left Earth orbit to reach the moon. The astronauts didn’t land, but took photos, readings and gave the equipment a trial run ahead of the Apollo 11 mission that launched a year later.

This book attempts to tie together the various lives that flowed together to end up with three men — Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders — on a flight to the moon.

Rather than just focus on NASA, which was only a decade old at the time, Kluger goes back to chart how some of the key men got to where they were, and how they contributed to the success of the mission.

It doesn’t need to try very hard to highlight how complex an undertaking it was, the bravery of the astronauts (who had seen colleagues die on the launch pad only the previous year in Apollo 1) and the suffering of their families as they made strides in the unforgiving void of space.

The description of the window in the atmosphere the crew had to hit on the return journey so they entered at the correct angle is enough to make most people sick with worry.

It’s well read by┬áBrian Troxell, even if some of his pronunciation is odd to English ears.

Well told, with a good amount of detail, while avoiding getting bogged down in it, this strikes the right balance to provide an interesting and gripping tale.

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Reviewed: 13th October 2018