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The Last Man on the Moon: Astronaut Eugene Cernan and America's Race in Space

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,102 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
Eugene Cernan is a unique American who came of age as an astronaut during the most exciting and dangerous decade of spaceflight. His career spanned the entire Gemini and Apollo programs, from being the first person to spacewalk all the way around our world to the moment when he left man's last footprint on the Moon as commander of Apollo 17.

Between those two historic event
Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1998)
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A Man on the Moon by Andrew ChaikinFailure is Not an Option by Gene KranzLost Moon by Jim LovellThe Right Stuff by Tom WolfeCarrying the Fire by Michael  Collins
Space Books
10th out of 261 books — 89 voters
An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris HadfieldThe Last Man on the Moon by Eugene CernanFailure is Not an Option by Gene KranzThe Right Stuff by Tom WolfeA Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin
The Space Age
2nd out of 94 books — 21 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jerry Smith
Mar 06, 2011 Jerry Smith rated it really liked it
One of the most approachable, readable and entertaining astronaut books I have read. Cernan writes with a minimum of technical detail and as a result we get a close up view of the human side of his story and therefore of Apollo and Gemini itself.

To get an idea of the stories of the individual flights of these programs it really pays to read the bios and autobios of those that flew them and this is no exception. You don't get to hear about Apollo 17 very often although it was one of the most suc
Heather Domin
Sep 03, 2013 Heather Domin rated it really liked it
Shelves: wishlist
4.5 stars. I did not expect to like this as much as I did! I thought it would be funny, maybe snarky, and it was both, but it was also poignant, authentic, and surprisingly honest. The BS level was blessedly low, the writing was conversational and amiable, and while he focused on the positive, no punches were pulled. (I don't think he and Buzz Aldrin will be BFFs any time soon.) The Gemini 9 spacewalk was painful to read - you don't get that level of description in documentaries. I kept reading ...more
Christopher Nieman
The Last Man on the Moon is a rather unique entry among books about the Apollo program, in that Gene Cernan is one of only three men who flew to the moon twice (Jim Lovell and John Young are the others).

The book's biggest surprise was Cernan's very low opinion of Buzz Aldrin. To my knowledge, Cernan is the only astronaut to portray Aldrin as overrated--and I'm convinced there's some professional animosity behind it:

Cernan had a ton of problems on his Gemini spacewalk, and he was damn lucky he e
Jan 09, 2008 Gail rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
If you enjoyed "From Earth to the Moon" or even "Apollo 13", you'll like this book.

This is the autobiography of Eugene Cernan, the commander of the last Apollo lunar mission--of his entire life, but with special emphasis (understandably!) on the development of the American space program. He recounts his early life that led him through engineering and military training, describes how he became involved with the space program, and his efforts with (and sometimes against) it. He gives personalities
Apr 24, 2013 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
I've read a number of historical biographies, auto biographies, and narratives, but this was my first about the space program. What a great book, the authors had an exceptional tone where you really could grasp Captain Cernan's emotions in the moment he was describing. Amazingly, he also doesn't pull punches, which in our ultra politically correct climate is refreshing as you can really tell how he felt about certain people or things. It was a bit self righteous to refer to so many celebrities a ...more
Jul 19, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 20, 2009 Joleen rated it it was amazing
I found this book simply fascinating. I generally have a hard time getting "hooked" on non-fiction even when I am interested in the topic. This book gives a great history of the early space program culminating in the historic moon landings of the Apollo program. Seeing this history through the eyes of one who lived through it, and riding along side him through his own struggles and triumphs provides the hook that is so often lacking in non-fiction. I felt my heart racing in anticipation during t ...more
May 12, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing
This book was great. I suddenly got a yen to read about the astronauts a few months ago and have a number of biographies to read-- this was the second one I've read so far. Eugene Cernan was on two Gemini space flights, was on Apollo 10 (they circled the moon and tried out the lunar module, but did not land- that honor was reserved for the following mission, Apollo 11). He did, however, become the 12th and last man to set foot on the moon as commander of the final Apollo flight, Apollo 17.

I real
Erika Acuna
Oct 04, 2015 Erika Acuna rated it it was amazing
What an enjoyable book. My 2nd time reading it; first time was many years ago while I was out at sea; the Space Shuttle program was due to end soon and I saw the similarities between it and the premature end of the Apollo missions. Now it seemed appropriate to read it again as we still are without a shuttle transport to the space station, and we have the technology for Mars but continue to struggle for funding as did the Apollo astronauts. Such a fascinating and entertaining account of one man's ...more
Apr 17, 2016 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this book via Audible.

In my mind, the Apollo program is one of mankind's greatest achievements. In less than a decade we went from just getting a man into space to sending them to the moon and back - something we have not matched in the over-forty years since.

Getting to hear about the space program from the perspective of one of the astronauts was amazing. I have watched interviews and dramatizations such as From the Earth to the Moon, but hearing it in Gene's own words, with his p
Feb 20, 2014 Jason rated it liked it
I'd give this book a 3.5 out of 5. It gives a good overview of the Gemini and Apollo programs, and the best part was probably when Cernan describes flying the lunar lander into Apollo 17's landing spot, which was kind of a hole in a range of mountains, and cliffs, which he describes in a way that makes it sound like science fiction (or the ghostwriter, who did a good job on this book), and something requiring a pilot rather than just anyone. I was surprised by what happened after everything is a ...more
Gord Jones
Sep 05, 2015 Gord Jones rated it it was amazing
I was/am lucky enough to be born during the time of the great space race to the moon between Russia and the United States. Each mission was more exciting than the one before and it was such a thrill to watch Neil Armstrong be the first man to walk on the moon.

This book The Last Man on the Moon is the autobiography of the twelfth and last man to walk on the moon, Gene Cernan.

It is a fascinating look back at what the NASA space program was all about, the behind the scenes politics and astronauts
Dec 28, 2014 Markotwain rated it really liked it
I knew I would enjoy this book from the moment I realized Gene Cernan had published a memoir about his life and career. It is actually the third book I’ve read and enjoyed that was penned by NASA personnel who experienced the American Space Program up close (having already read Lost Moon by Jim Lovell and Failure is not an Option by Gene Kranz).

Being the final voyager to step off the lunar surface in 1972, Cernan is qualified to share NASA memories from a unique perspective. I didn’t really kno
Sep 07, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it
This book was really stimulating, and provided a lot of intimate details about the race to the Moon. Cernan is a really compelling figure on his own, and was placed in a very interesting place within the contradictions of the historical period. America was slaughtering Vietnamese in the thousands, even millions, while she congratulated herself for coming to a lifeless rock with a message of peace.

Cernan was a pilot who trained to drop nuclear bombs. He visited Japan where he viewed monuments to
Jul 26, 2007 Vanessa rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Folks interested in the space program
I am a sucker for well-written accounts of the space program, particularly the Apollo missions. This is one such book. "Geno" Cernan, who was literally "the last man on the moon" provides the reader a window into what it was like to be part of that incredible part of human history. I learned a lot about the "office politics" of the program, and really felt his wonder - and surge of profound emotion - as he stood upon the surface of moon. What I also appreciated about his account was the tribute ...more
May 20, 2015 Genevieve rated it it was amazing
This resulted from one of my weird, manic phases of reading where I couldn't consume enough about some haphazard topic or other. This time, it was early manned space flight in my mid-twenties.

Cernan's account was pretty memorable, though I eventually burned out when NASA abandoned the lunar/command module system in favor of the shuttle program.

Apr 16, 2015 David rated it liked it
I bought and read this at the same time as Failure Is Not An Option and this one is the stronger of the two. While landing people on the moon was a significant accomplishment, it did not bring any certainty to the coming years surround the country or the space race. Cernan gives an up-close on what life was like for people working for NASA in those days.
Pep Bonet
Aug 29, 2014 Pep Bonet rated it it was ok
Shelves: història, anglesa-us
Having friends is not always a blessing. In the present case, it wasn't. My friend lent me this book for 'patriotic' reasons, given that Geno Cernan was half Czech, half Slovak and 100% American. I should have enjoyed it, but I couldn't. I didn't find the interest in the story, the guy is demonstrating his testosterone levels (call it cow-boy attitude if you prefer) all the time, I get lost in technical descriptions where I don't understand what's about and, worse, I couldn't care less and the e ...more
Nico Roulo
Jun 25, 2014 Nico Roulo rated it it was amazing
Une des meilleures autobiographies que j'ai lu à ce jour. Sa description en détail des sensations et sentiments éprouvés en voyageant dans l'espace et en marchant sur la lune est superbe.
Alex Allred
May 12, 2014 Alex Allred rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very easily one of the best books written on the subject. Not too heavy on the technical details, and not just personal reflections. Really makes me sad that traveling to the moon was limited to so few people. Highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates the space race. Bonus: my copy is signed!
Sep 03, 2012 Kevin rated it it was amazing
Great book. A wealth of detail about the Apollo and Gemini programs. The account of Cernan's harrowing Gemini 9 spacewalk would make the book worthwhile, but there's a whole lot more. Cernan and co-author Don Davis write with sufficient detail to put the reader in the spacecraft, but with sufficient pace to keep the story moving. So it's a lot more like Jim Lovell's excellent account of the flight of Apollo 13, "Lost Moon," than James Hansen's official biography of Neil Armstrong "First Man." Th ...more
Steve Fritts
Gene Cernan writes candidly about the decision by NASA management to let Neil Armstrong be the first man on the moon. They felt like even though Buzz Aldrin was a brilliant astronaut and pilot, Neil would be the better man for this honor because of his dignified presence and temperment. Most books on the Apollo missions conclude that Neil didn't really care who went out first, although he was very aware of the historical significance of this. As much as I admire Neil, if it really didn't mean th ...more
Aug 27, 2008 Marc rated it liked it
Cernan brings a lot of interesting personal stories into this book, but I wondered where he was going, and what his main message was. Things start meandering early on and my "never read a book" rule got used in the first inning as I skipped over lots of archival/raw documentary-level information in favor of human drama and perspective. I get the feeling from some of his extremely critical remarks about fellow astronauts that Cernan was tired of others defining his own astronaut experience and wa ...more
Oct 15, 2012 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great, but somewhat light feeling, memoir of Eugene Cernan, who has the dubious distinction of being the last man to walk on the moon. He's also one of the more experienced NASA astronauts, having flown both in Gemini and a previous Apollo Mission.

It's a good bio, but as I said it felt a little light and glossed over. I'm not entirely sure what more I was looking for, though. It was narrated by the author himself, which is a nice touch. His way of characterizing other astronaut's voices was am
Emily Dawson
Jun 13, 2015 Emily Dawson rated it it was amazing
Loved the history behind the Apollo program.
Feb 24, 2015 Richard rated it it was amazing
The equal best book of true Space travel, along with Gene Kranz's autobiography, that I have read. A must for any fan of the 'race to the moon period' in the 1960's
Aug 12, 2014 Jerilyn rated it it was amazing
Gene Cernan - my favorite astronaut!
Sep 10, 2008 Scott rated it it was amazing
OK, I'm just about done reading this book a second time, and I'm upping my rating to 5 stars. Great book, a lot of behind-the-scenes info about the Gemini and Apollo missions and those who flew them. Includes descriptions of some hair-raising close calls that we never heard about from the news reports and Life magazine. (Those Gemini spacewalks were not as fun as they looked, and I never realized how close Cernan and Stafford came to becoming a permanent feature of the moon on Apollo 10.) These ...more
Jul 21, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing
Very interesting read...
Erin Martin
Apr 17, 2016 Erin Martin rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. There were so many insights I got out of this book that I couldn't put it down and when I finally did I couldn't stop talking about it.
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