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Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home From The Moon

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  948 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
Forty years ago, Buzz Aldrin became the second human, minutes after Neil Armstrong, to set foot on a celestial body other than the Earth. The event remains one of mankind’s greatest achievements and was witnessed by the largest worldwide television audience in history. In the years since, millions more have had their Earth-centric perspective unalterably changed by the ico ...more
326 pages
Published 2009 by Bloomsbury
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Have you ever come second in a race, losing by a head? Or come as a runner-up in a competition when there had to be a tiebreak? Or perhaps you have always played second fiddle in some plum role? Now add into this fantasy, the idea that your race was a once in a lifetime event, and one which only a handful of people would ever experience. How do you feel?

Now answer this question, "Who was the first person to land on the moon?" OK - Everybody knows it was Neil Armstrong. They might even know the d
Dec 30, 2009 Erik rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of Buzz Aldrin and the space program in general, but I was disappointed by this book. The first part about the moon landing was interesting, and there were some interesting tidbits about how he felt during the whole thing.

The second part about his struggles back on Earth, and the end of his first marriage, are also interesting, although somewhat flat. That period of his life had to be deeply emotional for him, yet he relays the story as if he was reading the weather report. Mr. Al
May 09, 2012 Joni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First page - he's in the rocket! They're ready to go! Fantastic! I'd braced myself for the customary "early life" section of an autobiography, loaded with dull grandparents, but Aldrin's cut right to the chase.

This was not at all the book I was expecting. Of course we hear all about his trip to the moon in a lot of detail, and it's as awe-inspiring as you might think. But it turns out most of this book takes place on Earth, and deals with something I hadn't really thought about; what happens wh
Jul 07, 2009 Stuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audiobook but I didn't realize when I bought it that it was so new, until I saw Buzz on the TV. Actually, I must have downloaded it on the first day of the release.

It's an interesting story as it shows the depths to which Buzz sank before he dealt with his alcoholism after being catapulted to fame in the NASA astronaut program. It is also a testament to marriage and partnership and how both partners worked to overcome their problems and changed their lives for the better.

Jul 05, 2009 Jake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Buzz Aldrin is perhaps the most colorful astronaut in history (thus far). And this memoir shows off Buzz in all his quirkiness. As the book depicts, within three years of returning from the moon, Buzz was already far-removed from the proverbial no nonsense, cool-headed image of an astronaut.

Don't expect a detailed, epic recounting of the Apollo 11 flight. Buzz and his collaborator Ken Abraham dispense with the legendary mission in the first three chapters. This is a book about Buzz's life post-
I have been waiting for this book since last July as we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. I expected to read more about the actual flight and time ON the moon, but discovered that it was a book primarily about Buzz Aldrin's life after Apollo 11 returned home. I should have figured that out since the title says "The long journey home from the moon", but silly me I thought it was about coming home literally from the moon.

While perhaps interesting to some, it wa
Jul 15, 2012 Claudia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took courage to write this book.

After returning from the moon, Buzz Aldrin spiraled into depression and alcoholism. Having bouts of depression myself, it is not an easy thing to confess to. Too many people do not understand depression, and telling someone to "cheer up! " doesn't cut it.

Further, despite great strides, there is still a considerable stigma associated with depression and even more stigma attached to addiction disease. It took courage for someone very much in the public eye to a
Sarah Robarge
I couldn't finish it. I wanted so much to like this book and like its subject, Buzz Aldrin. However, due to what I felt was very amateurish writing and poorly handled subject matter I had to give up halfway through.

I could forgive the wandering narrative, the elementary tone, and the astounding lack of meaningful detail had Mr. Aldrin written this book himself. However, he worked with a professional author Ken Abraham and I am mystified as to how the poor writing of this book was allowed to be
Mar 07, 2012 Clay rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steve Van Slyke
Nov 19, 2011 Steve Van Slyke rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Steve by: Amazon
Shelves: space, kindle
This was probably my least favorite of the astronaut bio's that I've read so far, primarily because it often dives rather deeply into some tedious details of Aldrin's personal life. Sometimes, in these kinds of books we are left craving for more, but in this one I found a little bit too much and in some cases it got awfully syrupy and other cases overly self-serving.

Still, I have to credit Buzz for telling the other side of the story as well, being frankly honest about how useless he could be co
I think this memoir was mentioned in Mary Roach's Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void or possible Mike Mullane's Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut; either way, I checked out the library's Kindle version and spent several days with Mr. Aldrin.

As you might guess from the subtitle, this memoir starts with the events of Apollo 11 (which are wonderfully described and easily the best part of this book) and traces his life from that high point. Ald

Aldrin is a national iconic figure, brilliant man, and a person with a strong commitment to his country and his profession/obsession. He is also a person struggling with depression, anxiety, and a constant need to acquit himself. The result is an honest book about Aldrin's accomplishments and shortcomings, and a self-absorbed attempt to convince his readers and himself that all was well. I found it painful to read -- he is a fine man caught in impossible standards and floods of ideas that seem t
Robert Marsh
Jun 13, 2015 Robert Marsh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the book to read If you want to know what it's like to be an astronaut. To know what it's like to walk on the moon when you're young then walk the earth for the rest of your life with that moment of glory and bliss forever crouched on your shoulder. The story of Buzz Aldrin is an exceptionally human story of an exceptional human being. I admire the man and his openness.
Apr 15, 2016 Christa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Buzz Aldrin was kind of a mess of a person, man. It was cool to read, though, because I think a lot of people idealize astronauts and now you're just like "Wow these guys are the rock stars of science and often (or at least can) have the tumultuous lives addled with drug and drink and mental health disorders like the best of our media darlings".
Jul 13, 2009 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Having read Neil Armstrong's autobiography some months ago this one just leapt off the bookstore shelf into my hand. It is easily one of the most honest and open biographies I have evr read. Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins (Apollo 11) were my boyhood heroes and remain among my heroes even now. So to see the pain Buzz went through after the moonlanding was shocking and horrible, but to see how he battled and came through it, well I have immense respect for him.

Just to finish this review the inciden
Dan Gobble
One of the most in depth books I've read on the personal life of one of the Apollo astronauts. I appreciated Aldrin's straightforward presentation of his struggles with depression and alcohol. It cost him professional clout, at the time, when he sought treatment for his depression. He had to basically hit bottom before he came to grips with his alcohol addiction. His story will surely inspire those who struggle with either of those issues. He was very candid in describing his struggles and his ...more
Nov 04, 2015 Jim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
Aldrin apologies several times for being unable to put into words “what it was like” to step onto the moon for the very first time. He’s an engineer, not a poet. For him, the mission was merely the execution of a plan that went to plan, and he’s almost more surprised that people should want more from it than that. His brain doesn’t question metaphysics, just physics, where there’s an answer to be found to every question as opposed to wondering what the question should be in the first place.
Jul 30, 2009 Todd rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Disappointing. The first part of the book contains Buzz's account of the first moon-landing -- that part was great. The rest of the book is about his struggles to deal with fame and what to do with the rest of his life. While it is true that we rarely think about what happens to people after they reach the pinnacle of their lives, this book seems to wallow in his struggles with alcoholism, marriage and career. I felt like it would never end.
Jul 24, 2016 Everydayreader1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Buzz Aldrin was the second man to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969. He recounts his experiences during that Apollo 11 mission in 'Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon'. This is a candid autobiography.

As I read this book, I realized how shallow I have been in my thinking of people such as Dr. Aldrin. Achievement of great things is one part of his life, and like all of us, personal struggles are also a part of his life. His struggles include alcoholism and depression. He is
Sep 05, 2016 Gina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The first part was the most interesting part of the book, where Aldrin describes landing on the moon. The rest of it was mostly dull, with only a few interesting moments here and there. Aldrin's passion for space tourism is admirable, but does not make for what you'd call a fascinating book. I listened to the audiobook for this one, and there was more than one point where my attention shifted for rather long periods of time, and 20 or so minutes later when I tuned back in, he was still droning o ...more
Maren Fischer
Although the first part of book is really good, going from the moon landing to Aldrin's battle with alcoholism and depression, the last third becomes very self promotional, with a lot of name dropping "My friend the King of Spain..." and promoting his ideas about space exploration.
Prasidh Ramson
Jul 24, 2014 Prasidh Ramson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expected this book to detail Buzz Aldrin's journey from Earth to Moon (pun intended) and back again.

I was pleasantly surprised when his lunar odyssey was dispensed with in the first 2 Chapters. Even in these short chapters, some amazing details of the Apollo program (it was customary to have a large eggs and bacon breakfast on the morning of each launch), spacecraft (both the Command Module and Lunar Lander only had 74kb of storage each!) and their landing and moonwalk (cameras used by astron
Dave Milbrandt
Jul 02, 2015 Dave Milbrandt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All I really knew about Buzz Aldrin before I read this book was his status as a moonwalker and that he was the most visible of the three men of the Apollo 11 mission. It was nice to learn a great deal more, particularly about his deep passion for returning to space. The book is an easy read and he really doesn't hold much back when it comes to his failures in life. Thankfully he blends a good deal of humility into his narrative, or some passages would seem rather egocentric. His clarion call for ...more
Dec 02, 2014 Tracey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
nonfiction/memoir. 1st 2 chapters cover the Apollo 11 mission; next 4-6 hours take Buzz to Korea War and through a LOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNGG battle against depression and alcoholism. Granted, this is a difficult battle, and it understandably could take up a big portion of a person's life, but unfortunately it does not make for good reading/listening. It's the equivalent of arguing with an irrational person for hours and hours--because that's what it is to try and get help for a person that doesn't ac ...more
Alisha Erin
Aug 18, 2015 Alisha Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I really liked this book. Buzz's description of going to the moon was really fantastic, and it was fascinating to read about his life and depression/alcoholism afterwards--and then how he managed to overcome it all and go on to advocate space tourism/exploration. I would not say that this was the cleverest or most literary book I ever read, and I do not think it makes Aldrin out to be a perfect guy by any means, but I appreciated his honesty and straightforwardness and the glimpse into a remarka ...more
Devonne West
The first two-thirds of this book was interesting as Buzz Aldrin talks about his experience on the moon and the troubles he faces after his return. He shares his struggles with depression and alcohol and how meeting his new wife, in actuality, saved him. The last part of the book was a struggle as he talked about all of his celebrity and royalty "friends." As I read, it seemed more and more like name-dropping and bragging. Every space idea any person could possibly imagine was discussed briefly ...more
Sep 27, 2016 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I would say at 2.5. I have several different thoughts about this book: his descriptions of space, promoting the program, and other astronauts was great. His recollections of depression, battle with alcoholism, and the effects both had could potentially help those with the same problems, but were a bit tedious, as was the humble bragging, which I accept considering his career. However, his personal life is a mess. The last third is detailed and dedicated to his marriage to his third wife, Lois, w ...more
Andy Hickman
Honest account of an intriguing human.
- - -
“Beautiful view!” I said.
“Isn't that something!” Neil gushed. “Magnificent sight out here.”
I slowly allowed my eyes to drink in the unusual majesty of the moon. In its starkness and monochromatic hues, it was indeed beautiful. But it was a different sort of beauty than I had ever before seen. 'Magnificent', I thought, then said, 'Magnificent desolation.' - (Buzz Aldrin)

- Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon, by Buzz Aldrin, Ken A
Robert Sutherland
Buzz Aldrin is a visionary and an explorer. He also had a lot of problems. This account gives very little backstory to his life prior to NASA. We see glimpses into his past in the Air Force and family life, but the story begins with the Apollo 11 launch. We miss out on what made the man, his Gemini mission, and his Apollo training.

Aldrin is not pretentious and readily admits his shortcomings. Honest is a good word to describe this autobiography. After the moon landing, he is a good will ambassa
A good autobiography that is worth reading but desperately needs an abridged version. Buzz makes a lot of worthwhile points, but each time he encounters a recurring theme he explains the whole thing again in full. His views on the future of space travel and the role that government and private industry should play in it, for example, are relayed at least five times (at length) in approximately the same words. That some of those appear as excerpted blocks from speeches at important ceremonies and ...more
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Buzz Aldrin (born Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr., January 20, 1930) is an engineer and former American astronaut, and the second person to walk on the Moon. He was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history. He set foot on the Moon at 03:15:16 (UTC) on July 21, 1969, following mission commander Neil Armstrong. He is also a retired colonel in the United States Air Forc ...more
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