Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon

Apollo 11 was the first Moon landing. Apollo 13 was the heroic rescue of a damaged ship. When asked what Apollo 8 did, many might be forgiven for needing a moment to think it over.
Apollo 8 marked the first time any human left the grip of Earth's gravity to venture to another world. This moonshot may not have left footprints in lunar regolith, but its mission was no less risky than Armstrong and Aldrin's walk. In fact, Apollo 8 was in some ways even more of a gamble than Apollo 11. It was originally a manned test of the Saturn V rocket and the Lunar Module/Command Module in Earth's orbit. But Soviet success in sending living creatures to the Moon and back, the ever-approaching deadline of JFK's "before the end of this decade" Moon landing deadline and the need for a morale boost at NASA turned Apollo 8 into a Moon mission on extremely short notice.

By the summer of 1968, astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders were training on a truncated schedule for a mission with near-zero failure acceptability (Lovell would go on to command Apollo 13, whose lunar lander proved a life raft that Apollo 8 went without). In Rocket Men, Robert Kurson (Shadow Divers, Pirate Hunters) tracks this daring, often overshadowed Apollo mission from its hurried inception through its thrilling execution, all amid the wider turmoil of 1968 America--for which Apollo 8's live broadcasts and famous Earthrise photograph proved something of a balm. Rocket Men makes for riveting reading. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

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