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Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  555 Ratings  ·  132 Reviews
Much has been written about Neil Armstrong, America's modern hero, history's most famous space traveler, and the first man to walk on the moon. Yet shy of fame and never one to steal the spotlight Armstrong was always reluctant to discuss his personal side of events. Here for the first time is the definitive story of Neil's life of flight he shared for five decades with a ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published July 1st 2014)
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Jul 15, 2014 Grumpus rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: David Rubenstein
Shelves: biography, audiobook
Nothing influenced my life more than the early NASA programs, especially the Apollo missions. I still remember myself as a young 8-year-old, watching the moon landing along with the rest of the world. I was the perfect age upon which this historic event would ensure maximum impact.

A fond memory is going outside with my Dad and looking up at the moon and wondering if we could see the light from the craft circling the moon while Neil and Buzz where on the surface. I was in awe. Surprisingly, these
Neil Armstrong,  A Life of Flight will be published on July 8, 2014 -- just in time to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the first lunar landing! The narrative is 350 pages with a very generous amount of large, high-quality, black and white photos included throughout.

Neil Armstrong was a very private person. And to the best of my knowledge, unlike many of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts, Neil did not personally author anything on his spaceflight experiences. He is also noticeably abse
Elaine Mulligan
Apr 29, 2014 Elaine Mulligan rated it it was amazing
Epic - As a child whose parents pulled them off the beach to watch Apollo 11 with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the Moon July 20, 1969, at 3:18pm ET. And woke them up later that night to watch Armstrong take the first steps on the Moon at 9:56pm ET this book is pure delight.

The author Jay Barbree is the only reporter to cover all 166 American astronaut flights and moon landings. Neil Armstrong said “Barbree is history’s most experienced space journalist. He is exceptionally well qualifi
Jun 26, 2014 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
I have said it several times before I find anything aviation related to be intriguing. I someday do plan to finish up getting my pilot's license. Thus this is why for fans of aviation you should check this book out. Everyone is familiar with Neil Armstrong but do you know the "real" man in the suit?

Sometimes when you read a book you just know that author or writer is the right person for the job and you could not picture anyone else telling the story with such justice. Well this was the case wi
May 03, 2014 Natasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Got this as First Reads win. The author incorporates quotes from an older Neil seamlessly into events of young Neil's life. Unfortunately, there are a number of grammatical errors. I also found a lot of the technical language hard to follow. Otherwise, this is a well written, very factual book about one of the most important men in our history. It's taking me longer to read than I normally would read a book because I don't usually read biographies, but I definitely recommend this to anyone.
Jul 09, 2014 Mysteryfan rated it liked it
This is not a biography. About 40% of the book focuses on the moon landing. Add in Gemini 8 and two spaceflights take up almost 60% of the book. Once the moon landing is over, the rest of Neil Armstrong's life - more than half his lifespan - is dismissed in a bare 50 pages.

That said, I am a complete space nerd. I loved the thorough coverage of the moon landing! Many of the photos were new to me and they were stunning. The stories of Neil, Buzz, and Michael working together were fascinating. The
John M.

For those who have never ready anything about the space program before, this is a good introduction.

For those who have read other 60s-era astronaut bios or histories, this book is nice to read but not necessary.

If you're looking for a biography of Neil Armstrong, this is probably not the book for you.

Jay Barbree was good friends with Neil Armstrong. I know this because he said so in the book. For someone who is such a good friend, I expected more insight into the man himself. Most of the book i
Jul 06, 2014 Chris rated it it was amazing
I received this book as part of GoodReads First Reads giveaway.

That was most excellent. This book is primarily a story about the American and Soviet space programs during the space race in the 60's but it is also biography of Neil Armstrong.

The author talks about the space program at a high and low level. He talks about the rivalry between the United States and the USSR that really drove the race to the moon but he also talks about the on the ground life of the astronauts in the Mercury, Gemini
May 04, 2014 Claire rated it liked it
I received "Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight" as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

Written by journalist (and close friend of Armstrong) Jay Barbree, A Life of Flight is an account of Neil Armstrong's life and career (with a focus on the latter).

Listed at about 340 pages, the book is probably actually significantly less than that due to the addition of many photographs (a nice touch, I might add). As alluded to above, the book doesn't include much information on Armstrong's early life; rather, it jum
May 26, 2014 Rikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

As an air mechanic in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy, I fell in love with aircraft. At Christmas 1968 when Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders reappeared from the dark side of the moon in the first lunar orbit, I fell in love with space travel. The author covered every manned space flight by the US and knows intimately the life of the first man to step on to the moon. This is his story of a truly remarkable human being. How much more went into the training of the astronauts than I
Aug 15, 2014 Steve rated it really liked it
This is probably the Neil Armstrong biography we want to read. The author, who has covered the space program for 50 years, knew Armstrong well, and is able to give a close view of the man's character. If you're looking for dirt or deep details of his everyday life, you won't find them here, and who, really would want that. Instead, he covers mostly the career, with enough details about his personal life to make you better understand the man. The main touch points of the life -- Korea, Edwards AF ...more
Sep 11, 2014 Paul rated it liked it
I first became avidly interested in the U.S. space program when I was a kid in the mid 1970s with early memories of watching coverage of the later Apollo moon landings, and have followed its history since that time, so I am part of the natural audience for this book. That interest in the space program, and in learning more about the famously publicity-shy Armstrong, who died in 2012, is what drew me to this book. If you have that level of interest and want to delve more into some details of the ...more
Byron Edgington
Jul 18, 2014 Byron Edgington rated it really liked it
Here we have a biography of the first human being to step onto another celestial body. This bio of Neil Armstrong arrives on the forty-fifth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon mission, which Armstrong commanded. Barbree was (and is) a correspondent for NBC TV, and and a co-writer with Armstrong, Deke Slayton and Alan Shepard of the New York Times bestseller Moon Shot. Avoiding the standard cradle to grave timeline, Barbree’s book covers Armstrong’s aviation career, beginning with his ...more
J. Else
May 05, 2014 J. Else rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I won an advanced reader copy from Goodreads. As such I will overlook the large amount of typos and sentences that were incomplete.

The story itself focuses on Neil Armstrong's life during the space race of the 1960s. As someone born in 1978 I never experienced these moments. To read about them with a focus on Neil Armstrong's insight and thoughts was a rare delight. The author clearly knows his stuff, most especially the man who walked on the moon first. I really enjoyed the personal aspect to
May 28, 2014 Dave rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Space fans; history buffs
Full Disclosure - I received a copy of this as a First Reads Giveaway.

Right from the introduction I was hooked on this book. I grew up with the space race and moon landing. Having read a great deal about it, I was curious about the man that all of the other astronauts seemed to admire so much. But I knew what a private person he was. The author was there, as a part of the space race and moon landing. He showed a lot of respect for Neil Armstrong's privacy, statements in confidence, and focuses o
Aug 03, 2014 Dave rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, biography
Like so many, I can recall exactly where I was when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the moon's surface. (And let's not forget Michael Collins, circling above, keeping their ride home safe and ready to swoop down and rescue them should their craft fail to achieve its planned altitude after liftoff from the moon. His potential role is just one of the things that I learned in this book.) Dating myself, I was at a Boy Scout camp, watching on a black & white portable TV screen that on ...more
Katherine Wacker
May 20, 2014 Katherine Wacker rated it it was amazing

In Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight, Jay Barbree tells the personal and public story of a private man, beginning with Armstrong’s service in the Korean War. After becoming one of the most talented test pilots in the country, he was selected for the NASA program. Barbree gives a wonderful account of the first man to walk on the moon. Armstrong was perhaps the most famous person on earth at the time, yet few people knew of his fights for survival or of the tragic death of his daughter. A Life of
Apr 07, 2014 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: I received this ARC for free through the Goodreads First Readers program.

I have been a space geek since my early teens, focusing mainly on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo era. Knowing that Neil Armstrong tended to stay out of the public eye, I couldn't wait to get my hands on this definitive biography. And I was not disappointed. I flew through the pages in a sort of wide-eyed wonder, so thrilled that I couldn't help but quote from the book to anyone in the room.

As some other reviewer
Read Ng
May 05, 2014 Read Ng rated it it was amazing
This was a GoodReads giveaway.

Growing up, the race to the moon was such a memorable series of accomplishments to me as a young boy. The excitement and the danger all astronauts went through was astounding. I so vividly recall looking up at the moon that summer evening and thinking of Neil Armstrong landing on the moon and later watching him take that first step.

This book reads very quickly. It provides great insight into a very private hero. There is a great blend of the entire space program lea
Russell Goulet
Jul 21, 2014 Russell Goulet rated it really liked it
It is hard to believe that it has been 45 years since Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. Jay Barbree brings back those memories and adds tons of valuable information in his book Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight. The book provides an insider's view of the U.S. space program and all that Armstrong brought to it. Reading Armstrong's take on the events and happenings was quite interesting. Barbree brings a different perspective to all of the information and provides facts and details in a very eas ...more
Jul 07, 2014 Rob rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
It is July 20, 2014. I just finished a fascinating biography of the first man to step on the moon, Neil Armstrong, on the 45th anniversary of that historic event. This biography was engaging and kept my interest throughout most of the book, and included glimpses into the lives of others involved in the history of flight and the space program, from the Gemini capsules to the space shuttles. Additionally, this biography showed snippets of the successes and failures of the Russian/Soviet space prog ...more
Aug 06, 2014 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nasa
This is a great book. I would recommend this to anyone who was looking for a biography of Armstrong, or even a general book about the early space program. Barbree's writing style is very casual and fun to read. You can really feel how much he loved his friend in every page. His accuracy may not have been 100%, but there weren't any major errors in the text. This book really felt like you were having a conversation with the best friend of someone who recently died. There will be tears, laughter, ...more
Anne Goetz
Jul 22, 2014 Anne Goetz rated it it was amazing
This was a high-intensity recap of America's space program and the many roles that Neil Armstrong played in it. I enjoyed reading about the quiet character of a man who achieved so much, starting with so little. I was five years old when the last moon mission took place, and though I recognized the names of the astronauts and understood the giant leaps America took in the sixties and seventies, I had no idea what went on behind the scenes. This book tells it all in riveting detail. If you're int ...more
May 03, 2014 Deb rated it it was amazing
Having read other biographies on Mr. Armstrong I enjoyed this one immensely and consider it the best. It was in depth with an insider's view and more insight into the man, not just the celebrity or well publicized facts. More poignant was to hear his thoughts on our lack of foresight in continuing the program. We are worse off without him in the world but hopefully a book such as this will be a legacy for future generations to aspire to and remember a great man in a great time.
Kallen Kentner
The programs and missions leading up to Apollo 11 are explained in enough detail— Armstrong’s reactions, thoughts and feelings during those missions enhance the telling of the already compelling story, from the deadly Apollo 1 fire to the near-disaster of his Gemini 8 mission.

Read the full review at GeekyLibrary.
May 06, 2014 Cary rated it it was amazing
As an added bonus, this book is every bit as much about the evolution of the entire space program as it is about Neil Armstrong.
I don't often retain memorable moments from the books I read, certainly no more than one a year, but this had one I will recall forever. Mr. Barbree is somehow about to capture in written words the complete and utter sense of unrehearsed innocent joy and childlike wonderment these men experienced on their first orbit of earth...
Jul 15, 2014 Mindy rated it it was amazing
This is a very interesting book about Neil Armstrong, NASA, the race to the moon, etc. It wasn't a quick read....really took my time to understand everything, but was well worth it!
Syd Logsdon
Mar 10, 2017 Syd Logsdon rated it really liked it
Barbree’s prose is only workmanlike, but his first hand knowledge is unparalleled. His personal friendship with Armstrong gives his biography an authenticity and intimacy that could not be provided by any other writer.
Nov 17, 2014 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Neil Armstrong A Life of Flight, is an amazing fantastic book. I will be honest I was nervous if I would like this book or not, even though for many years I've been amazed and loved the subject of space travel especially the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. This book has the great balance of writing about Neil Armstrong without writing too much about Neil Armstrong. Which I believe is Neil was alive today that is what he would have wanted. A book about his life but more about his life of flight a ...more
Dec 27, 2014 Cade rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, biography
This book is a good read, but it is not like other biographies I have read. It is more like a memoir written by a second person. Rather than catalog all the things Neil Armstrong did, this book tells the story of Armstrong's life as a series of vignettes. This book does not tell you how many missions Neil flew in Korea (technically it does mention it in passing but only many chapters later when talking about Buzz Aldrin), but it does go into detail recounting Neil's actions and state of mind the ...more
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Jay Barbree (born 1933) is a correspondent for NBC News, focusing on space travel. Barbree is the only journalist to have covered every manned space mission in the United States, beginning with the first American in space, Alan Shepard aboard Freedom 7 in 1961, continuing through to the latest mission, Atlantis's STS-132 mission in May 2010. Barbree has been present for 132 space shuttle launches, ...more
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“From deep within the solar system a large planetoid was headed Earth’s way. It was on a collision course and it was unbelievably massive—possibly the size of Mars itself. Had there been humans on Earth then they would have spotted this intruder millions of miles out. They would have watched it grow in size night after night. Soon it would have filled the sky. There would have been no escape, no reprieve. Instantly they would have been staring doom in its face as—at an oblique angle—the planetoid squashed the young Earth.” 0 likes
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