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Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  1,186 ratings  ·  138 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 2,138)
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Brendon Schrodinger
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
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
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
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.
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.
Peter Kobryn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 17, 2009 Megan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
If you watched Neil Armstrong step onto the surface of the Moon, if you loved the Apollo missions, or watching the Shuttle, if you ever dreamed of being an astronaut, you will love this book.
Alison Smith
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
David Williamson
Moondust a book about the men who called the moon their home for the briefest of moments: or so it would have you believe. Andrew Smith is a journalist and don’t let his occasional references to Kierkegaard, Existentialism, and the nature of the self fool you – this is self examination journey type shtick (‘what have I learned from my experiences talking with the last men to have walked on the moon?’ [is this not an incredible arrogant position?]), which is OK if you want an easy read (say that ...more
Tim Howard
Since the dawn of time, humanity has longed to grind the face of the moon beneath its collective boot. Yet it wasn't until the 1960s that technology became sufficiently advanced to propel to the lunar surface not only boots, but people, too. (All the better for sending more boots.) Thanks to the political will of John F. Kennedy and the efficient German know-how of various former Nazis, between 1969 and 1972 twelve American men had the honour of standing 'pon Luna's pock-marked surface. In this ...more
For people who grew up during the Apollo program and manned missions to the Moon, Andrew Smith's Moondust has an intriguing premise. He sets out to find and interview the men who walked on the Moon and see how it affected their lives. Unfortunately, it ultimately yields the conclusion that many people now seem to have of the Apollo program -- a lengthy journey that is ultimately more symbolic than productive.[return][return]Smith's idea stemmed from happening to meet with Charlie Duke, who walk ...more
Alan Wightman
Jun 07, 2013 Alan Wightman rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alan by: David Coventry
Shelves: favourite-books
Andrew Smith was eight years old when Apollo XI touched down on the Moon. It was exciting and formed a keystone of his childhood, and he subsequently forgot about it. Like so many of us, he accepted it as given, thinking critically about it no more than oxygen or light-bulbs. Thirty years later, he interviewed Charlie Duke, one of the twelve men to have walked on the Moon, who was grieving the loss of his fellow Moonwalker Pete Conrad, saying "there are only nine of us left now". Smith is struck ...more
Andrew Smith manages to mix fact, opinion and emotion to create a fascinating journalistic account account of life after the Apollo missions in Moondust. The book follows Smith as he endeavours to interview and observe the Apollo astronauts in their modern-day life and investigates the significance of the Apollo missions, including whether new Moon missions would be feasible today. A poignant, recurring fact is threaded through the journey (one which Smith himself seems quite affected by): there ...more
When Andrew Smith wrote Moondust, nine of the twelve men who walked on the moon were still living. Today, there are eight, and that number is not going to get bigger anytime soon. Spurred by the knowledge that one day soon, none of them will be left, Smith set out to ask them a question. Not, "What did you do on the moon?" but rather "What did the moon do to you?" For all of them, the changes were profound, but some have made more of it than others. Edgar Mitchell had a kind of spiritual epiphan ...more
Sep 04, 2008 Brittany rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who grew up in the 60s, People interested in astronomy/the 60's/NASA
Recommended to Brittany by: Richard & Judy (um)
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
How I Came To Read This Book: When I worked at the BBC back in 2006, I wrote press releases for three upcoming audiobook releases that also happened to be on Richard & Judy's Book List for that year (the equivalent of being named an 'Oprah' book). Moondust and Empress Orchid tweaked my interest and I eventually bought them upon my return.

The Plot: This is a nonfiction tale that in theory is about the 12 men who walked on the moon in the 60s and 70s. With the death of one moonwalker, author A
This is a very entertaining look back at the Apollo missions to the moon that took place between 1969-1972. Because man first walked on the moon over forty years ago, there is a tendancy to take the whole adventure for granted. Smith decides to take this as his starting point and sets out to analyse the whole project again and tries to interview as many of the remaining astronauts (nine of the twelve men who walked on the moon are still alive)as he can. The recollections of the aging astronauts ...more
I normally gobble up a book that I love like a great bar of chocolate or a fabulous donut so that it barely touches the sides. However, with Moondust by Andrew Smith I treated it like I used to treat my Easter eggs & slowly as I could stand savoured every word. I succumbed in the end & polished off the last third of the book in three days of frenzied reading. The reason for this mini love affair is threefold.

First, the narrative itself is compellingly written by Smith as he tracks down &
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]Moondust is superb. Smith tells the story of his efforts to track down the nine living men who have walked on the moon, presenting it as a chronological narrative, one by one, with contributory material from other interested parties (Reg Turnhill, Richard Gordon, Bill the dentist in Carson City, Charles Duke's wife Dotty, etc). But he integrates also reflections on how it seemed at the time, what was going on in politics, how the Apollo progr ...more
This is an interesting book: part travelogue, part collective biography of the nine remaining men who set foot on the moon and what happened to them after that life-changing experience, and part philosophical discourse on what Apollo and the moon landings have come to mean to us in the forty years since Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon. I loved it, from start to finish; I couldn't put it down, and when I did I felt thoroughly infected by the author's passion and 'childlike wonder' ...more
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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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“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.” 3 likes
“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.” 3 likes
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