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

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  456 ratings  ·  42 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
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Paperback, 368 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1998)
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Jerry Smith
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...more
Heather Domin
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
Jason
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
Chris
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...more
Gail
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...more
Vanessa
Jul 26, 2007 Vanessa rated it 3 of 5 stars 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
David
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
Kevin
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
Marc
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
Steve
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joleen
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
Kate
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...more
Scott
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
Jeff
Wow, I loved this book. I was fascinated with the Apollo program as a lad and this book brought me back to those days. Great behind the scenes information about the Gemini and Apollo programs and the men that flew. Cernan's tales of his space flights were amazing. The things they pulled off and went through pushed them to their physical limits and made the whole moon landing possible. I can't recommend this book enough for fans of 60's and 70's Apollo.
Steve
While it took a w little while to get going, when it does "Last Man on the Moon" offers a look into the community of astronauts whom we look upon as the pioneers of the Space Age. The honesty and detail Cernan describes in this memoir is unprecedented, and the difficulties he describes in space flight gives even the most avid supporter of manned spaceflight pause - not pause in one's belief in the program, but because it offers a new perspective on how things work.
Matt Jarvis
What a great book. Similar in style to Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journey, an illuminating look at the life of an accomplished astronaut, with plenty of entertaining anecdotes and interesting side stories. It's inspiring to hear how passionate they all were about the space program. <3
Jennifer
Other than the swearing, I really, really enjoyed this book. It's the personal perspective of Eugene Cernan who was the last astronaut on the moon in the final Apollo mission. His opinions are interesting and fun and I'm sure Buzz Aldrin would like some rebuttal time, but the description of the missions puts you there with him. VERY enjoyable.
Sarit Arora
A wonderful book from an astronauts perspective on the Apollo program. It goes into details on the camaraderie as well as intense competition amongst the chosen ones. The only thing, which i felt could have been better, is that some of the astronauts have been painted in not so good light, but since this is a personal view, it should be palatable.
Norm
Jul 28, 2011 Norm added it
A lot more personable than many of the other Astronaut biographies I've read. I would have liked some additional coverage of his life post Apollo 17, but you can't have everything. He's not afraid to admit moments of fear and self doubt, or to express his opinions of some of his fellow Astronauts. An entertaining and highly accessible read.
Tim B
Great book. It's Gene Cernan's career autobiography that also describes a good deal of his personal life. I really enjoyed reading about his adventures in space on the first person level. It made me feel like I was in the capsule with him. My only take away is some of his story's dragged on a little too much, but overall I enjoyed this book.
Brandon O'Neill
I read this book in conjunction with watching In The Shadow of the Moon for a great astronaut exprience! I love reading about these men and what they accomplished in their moon missions, and in their relationships with each other. Cape cookies, moon bunnies, and orange dust are some of the things I learned about.
William
This is Astronaut Gene Cernan's account of his experience with NASA. Cernan traveled into space 3 times, Gemini 9, Apollo 10 and on our last trip (so far) to the moon on Apollo 17. This is a easily read entertaining and inspiring history of NASA's journey to the moon. Cernan takes the reader along for the ride of a lifetime.
Bruce
One man's retelling of his journey through NASA culminating with walking on the moon. Includes the personal side of what the families had to give up and the politics of crew selection.
Jim
An excellent book about the last man on the moon. Gene Cernan commanded the last Apollo mission. As a huge fan of the "real" space program..NOT THE SPACE SHUTTLE..this book was bittersweet for me.

How sad we gave up our space leadership to waste money on useless social programs that will never succeed.
Phil
A great look at the early days of space exploration, in particular the Apollo missions from an astronaut's point of view. It has a focus not just on his trips to the moon but more importantly the relationship with his family and friends and how the space program affected them.
Jim Cunningham
Easy to read but comprehensive... a detailed look at the space program from Cernan's point of view. This is Gemini and Apollo as he experienced it. All the things that went on behind the scenes in this remarkable endeavor are revealed here. Informative and enjoyable to read.
AJ
Reading books like this just makes me frustrated to live in a country that doesn't prioritize science and basic research enough to have continued making trips to the moon... or even low earth orbit on the Space Shuttle. I guess my generation just has to tough it out on Earth.
Todd
This was probably the most entertaining of all the bio's of astronaunts I have read. Very insightful book about the life and the journey of the last man to stand on the moon. A great read for anyone who is interested in this time in our country's history.
Alan Livingston
Best non-fiction/autobiography I've read in some time. If you have any interest whatsoever in the space program from it's beginning to end, Gene Cernan's book is a page-turner you can't put down. Outstanding.
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