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Deke!: An Autobiography

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  378 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Deke Slayton was one of the first seven Mercury astronauts--and he might have been the first American in space. Instead, he became the first chief of American Astronaut Corps. It was Deke Slayton who selected the crews who flew the Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab missions. It was Deke Slayton who made Neil Armstrong the first man on the moon.

Deke! is Deke Slayton's' story--told
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ebook, 352 pages
Published June 15th 1995 by Forge Books (first published May 1st 1994)
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John M.
Jan 14, 2012 John M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interesed in NASA or manned space flight

As one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, Deke Slayton was there from the beginning. Unfortunately he was grounded due to a heart condition, but stepped in as director of flight crew operations.

This book is unique among astronaut autobiographies because Slayton was there for every flight, from Alan Sheperd’s first flight to the maiden voyage of the Space Shuttle. He was eyewitness witness to all of the historical events from Ed White’s spacewalk to Gene Cernan stepping off the moon for th
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Betsy
Feb 25, 2008 Betsy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deke Slayton is one of the most fascinating personalities in the history of NASA and the space program. Among the elite Murcury Seven astronauts, Deke was grounded just before his first space flight because of heart problems. Stripped of his ability to pilot any aircraft, Slayton opted to stay with NASA, eventually as the man who would choose the flight order that determined who would go to the moon. His insghts about the space program, his own challenges and his eventual journey into space are ...more
Stephen
Sep 23, 2016 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don Slayton knew he wanted to fly as a kid, but he never imagined going as high as the moon His story is singular; chosen as one of America's first astronauts, he was grounded for medical reasons shortly into the Mercury-Gemini programs. Remaining at NASA in hopes of one day restoring his active-duty status, he was charged first with being head of the Astronaut Office, and later still director of Flight Crew Operations. His memoir of the Apollo program thus covers far more ground than one-flight ...more
Gary Schroeder
Jul 06, 2013 Gary Schroeder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having devoured the complete Apollo canon of histories, biographies and autobiographies, I admit that I'd been putting this one off for some time. I suppose because Deke was a Mercury astronaut who never flew in that program and was barely an Apollo astronaut (if you see the Apollo-Soyuz test Project as actually being part of the Apollo project), I didn't think his story would be that compelling. Well, I confess now to being wrong and misinformed. This is a great addition to the Apollo story, no ...more
Lisa
Jul 23, 2015 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Donald "Deke" Slayton was one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, yet before he could go into space he was grounded with a minor heart murmur. He became the chief of the Astronaut Corps and was the one who decided who got to fly in the Gemini, Apollo and Skylab missions and specifically decided that Neil Armstrong would be the commander of Apollo 11 and therefore, the first man to set foot on the moon. Slayton eventually did get medically cleared to go into space with a joint US/USSR mission i ...more
Jerry Smith
I always thought that Slayton was unlucky but made the most of the hand he was dealt. This straightforward autobiography pretty much confirms that view and is written very much in the style that, I imagine, was typical if the man.

Deke isn't a gifted writer, it's not his strength. Therefore the narrative is pedestrian and fails to explore the interesting aspects he brings up, especially how he chose the crews. All other bios of astronauts from this time mention how closed this process was and how
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Margaret
For my money, this and Scott Carpenter's book, For Spacious Skies, are the best of the Mercury astronauts' memoirs. Deke's is particularly interesting because of his role as head of the astronaut office, assumed when he was kept from flying in space because of a heart condition (later cured, allowing him to fly in the Apollo-Soyuz mission). Cassutt does an outstanding of letting Deke's personality come through, as well as interspersing short bits of narrative from other sources, such as Deke's s ...more
Stuart
Apr 22, 2009 Stuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apollo
Deke Slayton was one of the original Mercury Astronaut team but lost his chance to go into space due to a heart irregularity that was found by medical monitoring during the training. He then ended up being Chief Astronaut and selected the crews who made up the Apollo missions including selecting the Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to be the first men to land on the Moon.

Deke is a much more interesting character than Armstrong and the book contains a lot details about the earlier Mercury and Gemin
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Keir Thomas
A key figure throughout the whole of the space race tells his story, from childhood to old age. Should be interesting and is, at times. The book suffers from being badly written and lacking in insight. It rehashes a lot of the dates, quotes and missions that space enthusiasts know by heart, without adding anything particularly new. Deke's crew rotation dilemmas are quite interesting, and there's definitely some new insights into the Apollo-Soyuz flight. The vast majority of it however, can be fo ...more
Daniel Zaharevitz
This book isn't as complete as other books like A Man on the Moon and it is not as thoughtful and insightful as Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journey, but it still covers the perspective of a major figure in the US manned space program.
Michael
Oct 04, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting account of early NASA from the inside. Deke goes through his life from a young man to the end of his space career. Badass World War II stories and insight into NASA. One particular item of note is how he details the selection process of the Gemini/Apollo Era astronauts for their missions.
Paul Russell
Aug 07, 2015 Paul Russell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slayton like all those early space pioneers really lived a life. And from humble beginnings rose through the ranks and finally got a space flight after battling for years with doctors. Must read for anyone interested in the space program.
Joel
Aug 21, 2012 Joel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apollo-nasa
Always enjoyed reading about the seven that started the space race. Deke lost his Mercury and Apollo ride because no doctor would back him because of a heart problem. He became head of the Astronauts and pick the teams for each mission.He made the choice, first man in space, first on the moon.
Alexander
An interesting and enjoyable biography of one of the Mercury 7 who worked with NASA for over 20 years. Good insight into the manned spaceflight program.
Gary O'Brien
Jun 22, 2011 Gary O'Brien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One word: Deke! The manned space program wouldn't have been the same without his participation, dedication and unwillingness to give up the hope of his first spaceflight.
Michael
Aug 23, 2009 Michael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very technical, but the writing is very conversational. Surprisingly thorough in detail, less insightful/behind-the-scenes commentary that I hoped for.
Ted
Feb 03, 2016 Ted rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deke! the true right stuff

Such a great book. Deke Slayton an unsung hero of NASA. Highly recommended for all space enthusiasts. Pulls back the curtain on the early days of NASA
John
Sep 18, 2016 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I was was going to suggest a book to learn about the history of NASA, it would be "Failure is not an option" -Gene Kranz and "Deke!" -Donald K. Slayton
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Donald Kent “Deke” Slayton (March 1, 1924 – June 13, 1993) was one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts.[1] After initially being grounded by a heart murmur, he served as NASA's Director of Flight Crew Operations, making him responsible for crew assignments at NASA from November 1963 until March 1972. At that time he was granted medical clearance to fly as the docking module pilot of the ...more
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“He’d had his own book published, Across the High Frontier—the one years before The Right Stuff or Yeager!—so he wasn’t shy when it came to publicity.” 0 likes
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