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Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,738 Ratings  ·  162 Reviews
The Apollo lunar missions of the 1960s and 1970s have been called the last optimistic acts of the twentieth century. Twelve astronauts made this greatest of all journeys and were indelibly marked by it, for better or for worse. Journalist Andrew Smith tracks down the nine surviving members of this elite group to find their answers to the question "Where do you go after you ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 8th 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Brendon Schrodinger
May 23, 2014 Brendon Schrodinger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, space
I'm finding it hard to write this review. Not due to the book at all, just due to my own problems. I listened to the audio book of this the last couple of weeks at the gym. And it was very entertaining and interesting, it kept me at the gym for longer than I would have listening to music. But I'd class my audio comprehension as slightly retarded. That styrofoam ball that my sister dared me to shove up my nose when I was six never came back out. I have a feeling that the section of my brain that ...more
May 02, 2014 Cira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First, let's lament the unfortunate cover of this new edition. Here's the old one:

Okay, onward: I actually read each chapter at least twice before moving on. I've never done a neurotic escapade like that with a book before, but I didn't want it to end.

Part memoir, part essayist account, part historic narrative (the description of the Eagle landing here is the best, sorry Andrew Chaikin), Moondust is more than a search for the last surviving men who walked on the moon. It's also NOT a technologic
Aug 22, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After the death of Pete Conrad in a motorcycle accident, Smith sets out to interview the nine Apollo moonwalkers who are still alive. In his interviews, Smith focuses on discovering how the astronauts were changed by their trip to the moon, and what the trip meant to them. And while the interviews are fascinating (I was born too late to appreciate the Apollo program while it was happening, but I was obsessed with it in the last few years of the seventies, as the program's crazy glory faded and i ...more
Jenny (Border Dweller)
This is a book about people rather than technology, or rather, the impact of technology on people. Those looking for a detailed and factual account of the Apollo Moon Landings will be disappointed. Those, like me, who know the official narrative but want answers to the questions no-one thought to ask, will love it.

The basic premise of the book is simple: what does it do to a man to leave earth and stand on another world? To answer this question, the author interviews the remaining "moonwalkers",
I found the author far more interesting that the astronauts. I liked his speculations of why we are fascinated with the moon. I liked his thoughts on how the moon landings fitted in with history at the time. I like his reflections on his childhood. I loved the thoughts of proximity and distance that this book prompted.
Apr 11, 2009 Chris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
What an awful, boring book. Shame really. Space is my favourite subject. I tried to read it, I really did but it just dragged on and on.
Robert C.
Aside from a brief spike of interest just before page 250 where the author started to talk about something deep and meaningful, this book is kind of dull.

Here's the premise - the author is the age at which 12 men walked on the moon (30 years previously) when he finds out that there are just 9 of them left. So he decides to interview as many of them as he can and then write a book about his experiences of the interviews.

Yes - you got it - this isn't a book about the men who walked on the moon - t
Hilary G
Jun 01, 2015 Hilary G rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned

I am very sorry but I finally had to give up on this book, which completely failed to hold my attention. After trying to read it for more than a month, I am barely past page 100 and mired in the incoherent ramblings of Buzz Aldrin. How disappointing that humanity’s first ambassadors into space, had they met any aliens, were barely articulate enough to say “Take me to your leader”.

I have always been terrifically interested in the space programme. The year after the first l
Peter Kobryn
Nov 16, 2015 Peter Kobryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: space
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 17, 2009 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ogreboy, Shinynickel, my dad
I found this book to be fascinating, uplifting, inspiring, and emotionally moving. It was well-written, and here and there quite humorous. I feel grateful in a surprising way after reading this, grateful and happy that someone attempted to interview these men, and that Andrew Smith got as close as he did to finding out the astronauts real thoughts on what it was like to be on the moon, and what it was like to come home after and live on the Earth. Smith has a gift for staying grounded in reality ...more

Find my personal ‘Quote of the Book’ on pg.319::
“Pete Conrad used to defuse the question [of what was it like to stand on the Moon] by answering “Super! Really enjoyed it!”.”

Then place a bookmark on pg 32 where a crew list for the Apollo missions (11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17) which reached the surface of the Moon can be found. Further detailed information is to be found in the Appendix at the back of Michael Collins’ superb 1974 book “Carrying The Fire”.

If you’re reading either of the 2006 or 2009

I borrowed the 2006 edition paperback from my local library; and read as far as pg 174 ... whereupon I serendipitously came across and bought this 'as new' copy of the 2009 edition "with a new preface and afterword' in a charity (thrift) shop. Excellent value!

My full review can be found at

The preface to this 2009 book contains Smith's observation that, perfectly in character, Neil Armstrong did not attend his hometown's celebrations of the 30th anniversar
Darkpool (protesting GR censorship)
Oct 09, 2008 Darkpool (protesting GR censorship) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Larry and any other 40-somethings
This may not have been the best book to "read" (or rather listen to) at the start of my Apollo kick, coming as it does from the far more philosophical perspective of "What did it all mean?" rather than the prosaic "What happened?". I found myself, as the author reflected on the fact that he was about the same age as the astronauts he was interviewing were when they walked on the moon, realising that I myself am about the age he was when he was chasing these men down to interview them for this bo ...more
In 1999, journalist Smith met Charlie and Dotty Duke, in order to interview them for a magazine article. Duke was one of the twelve Americans who walked on the moon (as the lunar module pilot for Apollo 16), and during the interview, they got the news that Pete Conrad, an Apollo 12 moonwalker, had died in a motorcycle accident. Duke's sad response was, "Now there's only nine of us," and therewith started Smith's personal quest to speak to all of the remaining moonwalkers.

The result is a marvelo
Erin Shumaker
May 22, 2015 Erin Shumaker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-shelve
I can't tell you how much I loved this book. I read it a few years ago during a summer of space race reading. I ended up buying my own copy and have loaned it to several friends already! It was amazing to read the impact space travel and moonwalks had on these elite men. Their lives were never the same. The most interesting aspect of this book was watching each astronaut's story unfold. Each of them did the same thing (aside from Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swiggert of Apollo 13) - they eac ...more
Nic Margett
May 27, 2013 Nic Margett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
While at work reading this on my lunch break, one of my colleagues mocked the "Richard and Judy's book club" logo on the front page. I was very quick to defend them. I've only read a handful from their lists, but every single one has been a thoroughly entertaining and effortless read and this one has been no different.

I read a lot of science fiction, yet it occurred to me while i read this that i hadn't really looked at the realities of space exploration in any particular depth. I've watched a
Mark Fleming
Sep 06, 2013 Mark Fleming rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A masterpiece. A book that manages to convey the awe, the magic and yet the very ordinariness of an extraordinary time and event. We can almost walk with these ageing men in an impossible place. We feel their aches of age and the sadness they each seem to convey. The moon-men soared in their early lives, test pilots, fighter pilots and daredevils. Then they set off for the moon. Each in their own way has never returned, and for those who reached its ancient surface, something other than just the ...more
Dec 27, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In turns poignant, humorous and contemplative, this is a beautifully written book that goes far beyond simply interviewing the surviving American astronauts who walked on the moon. Considering the trajectory of their lives following their lunar expeditions raises many questions about what brings true satisfaction. I'm actually not very interested in astronomy or space exploration, but the quality of the storytelling kept me engaged throughout, which is a real credit to the author. Excellent audi ...more
Alison Smith
Jun 13, 2013 Alison Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Andrew Smith tracks down the last 9 astronauts who went to the moon - 30 years after the event. A fascinating book about the American Space Progress/the Cold War/the 60s & 70s. I was astounded at the danger & risks which the astronauts faced. Smith brilliantly recreates the excitement, the atmosphere of the times. Half the men who went were radically changed, half were not. A really interesting (& entertaining) read. Highly recommended.
Sep 21, 2015 Babs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another great read. Andrew Smith sets out on a journey to interview and talk to the remaining 9 men alive who have walked on the moon. The book is crammed full of interesting facts and figures - like the fact that only 24 men have ever been in deep space or the astronauts who went to the moon and back were low-paid civil servants who received only $8 per day per diem with a deduction for "accommodation" (on board Apollo!!). On occasions Smith can wander off into musings and sub-conversat ...more
Jan 19, 2015 Emma rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I'm sorry to say I didn't really enjoy this. The purpose of the book sounded fascinating (man goes to moon, returns, life is ruined forever) but in reality this pitch was stretched wafer thin. The book felt like it ought to have been an interesting long article, but instead you have loads of navel gazing filler from the author - "weren't the sixties just great let me tell you all about it..." um, no ta.
Carol Hislop
Jan 22, 2013 Carol Hislop rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why I like this book so much because I am definitely not a scientifically minded person but I really loved it. It is written by a journalist who meets all of the nine astronauts who have walked on the moon. He writes about why they became astronauts and what effects their trips to the moon had on them. It's maybe of more interest if you lived at the time of the moon landings though as I did.
Kyrstie Gennoe
Oct 06, 2012 Kyrstie Gennoe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-again
I have a fascination with the moon, space and space travel. I therefore loved this book. It takes us back to a time and an excitement we will never haw again and brings the sense of 'what if' that is not possible today. It focuses on the people and emotions and the day to day work of getting to the moon. I can't wait to read it again
Everett Darling
Mar 01, 2009 Everett Darling rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Totally invigorating and inspiring. Able to renew the space fascination which has dwindled since the Apollo missions, and in general, will touch the reader's own sense of child-like wonder. Never before have I considered the space program in such a meaningful way. Now, I am a believer.
Phillip Jones
This was a random purchase but turned out to be very good indeed. The conceit is that the writer is trying to find the remaining men who walked on the moon and, while doing so, tries to find-out why the world has become so unimpressed by their achievement. Intriguing.
Jun 17, 2014 Yve-Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a child when the first step was taken on the Moon and I remember the little black and white picture flickering on the screen, fuzzy and shaky. There was a great feeling of suspense and wonder as each move was made. Fingers must have been crossed across the world as each scene played out, like something from an old silent movie. So I was interested to read Andrew Smith's book and see what he was able to find out about what happened to the 12, then 9, moon-walkers. For me this was an interes ...more
Velimir Randic
Oct 13, 2015 Velimir Randic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-hold
A great insight about what happened to the Apollo astronauts after they left the Moon, how they coped with the experience and how it changed all of them.
Steve Grayell
Oct 10, 2013 Steve Grayell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
cracking read .... engaging history of a remarkable time. full-on culture fix ... 5*s and olny part way thru ! yes awesome ..... recommended
Marty Nicholas
Oct 29, 2012 Marty Nicholas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a splendid book! Absorbing, introspective...a gem.
John Cooper
Jan 06, 2016 John Cooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's strange really. For a brief moment - summed
up by the author as - we glimpse the 21st century in the middle of the 20th century when humanity set foot on the moon. This world changing exploration is only open to a few and those who were able to travel are getting old.

Beyond Neil Armstrong and his small step - how much do we know of those who walked on the moon and the impact it had on them? The author aims to meet all those who walked and hear what it was like.

There are high points, low poin
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I was born in New York, but have lived most of my life in the UK and started out as a journalist, just writing and writing at Melody Maker, then The Face, Sunday Times and Observer. The engine of my work is always curiosity: my first book, 'Moondust', stemmed from me wondering what had happened to the 12 men who walked on the Moon between 1969 and '72; my second from bewilderment at the way Web 1. ...more
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“When I review my travels among the astronauts, my mind's eye goes first to the Houston shopping mall where Alan Bean sat for hours after returning from space, just eating ice cream and watching the people swirl around him, enraptured by the simple yet miraculous fact they they were there and alive in that moment, and so was he.” 6 likes
“Had (President) Kennedy turned to his advisers and wailed, "What can we beat the Russians at?" and if someone had cried "Backgammon!" at that point, Apollo would never have happened.” 4 likes
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