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Michael Collins
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Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys

4.37  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,394 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
In 1969, Michael Collins went to the moon with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the historic Apollo 11 flight. When he came back, he wrote the finest account we have of the training and the experiences of a test pilot and astronaut. This is the story of one of the great adventures of this century.

First published in 1974
New epilogue by the author
Drawings, color and b&am

Hardcover, 422 pages
Published November 1st 1998 by Adventure Library (first published 1974)
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Apr 29, 2015 ^ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Every school library in Britain ought to possess a copy of this book.
Recommended to ^ by: Paul Harris

Here is the book to convince every fourteen year old that a sound practical knowledge of the language of maths and engineering is both enormously exciting and career liberating. How very different our world would be today if we employed many more research engineers (in which I include test pilots turned astronauts) than self-obsessed bankers!

This is a book to read and re-read. This is a book I cherish.

This is not merely a book on how Man realised his dream of landing on our Moon. Instead
Apr 02, 2012 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
Collins notes early on in this book that he chose to eschew the services of a ghostwriter, apologizing that the prose will not be as polished as a result. It was a wise choice.

Collins' voice is friendly and straightforward, eminently likeable. He has little interest in delving into deep psychological analysis or talking much at all about his personal life, choosing instead to focus on his path, and NASA's, to the moon. Self-deprecating humor and a profound appreciation for the contributions of t
Mar 26, 2014 Jay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Out of the several NASA-related books I've read, this was my favorite. It was written in 1974, so the subject matter of space flight was a lot fresher on Collins's mind compared to a lot of NASA biographies that were written in the 2000s. I think that gives the book a more lively feel than other biographies, since the Apollo program had just wound down and he could still recall things vividly. And Collins wrote it without a ghostwriter, which is pretty impressive since his writing is very good. ...more
Apr 08, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An educational, inspiring read.

Michael Collins never set out to be an Astronaut, or make history, but he did and he did it with determination, humor and a Rocket named Apollo XI.

This book was written when everything we know about Space today, wasn't known then. There was no ISS, there was no high tech laptops and colorful video cameras. Mobile phones today have more advancements than Space did in those times. Yet they managed to send Astronauts to the moon, more than once. Everything back then w
Scott Foshee
If You Read Just One Book By An Astronaut, Make It This One

I am a space buff and have read many good accounts of the space program, including Andrew Chaikin’s amazing “A Man on the Moon,” which should be required reading for everyone interested in these genera. As for books written by astronauts, “Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys” by Michael Collins is probably the best I have read along with Jim Lovell’s “Lost Moon,” aka “Apollo 13.” An important point to make right off the bat is tha
Carrying the Fire is the memoir of Michael Collins, who was command module pilot on Apollo 11, the first human lunar landing mission. More than forty years after its first publication, it is still the gold standard of Apollo astronaut bios. Collins has a real feel for writing, compared with his colleagues, most of whom have written very dryly. (It is also worth noting that Collins is one of the very few astronauts--maybe the only one--who wrote without the need for a collaborator.) He was known ...more
Dec 30, 2014 Mkfs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: space buffs, problem solvers, and the solitary
Of the three crewmen for Apollo 11, which is likely to have the most interesting story? The mission commander, first man to set foot on the moon and subsequently a household name? The co-pilot of the lunar module, cheated of glory by being only the second man to walk on the moon? Or the command module pilot, alone in orbit around the moon while the landing progressed, never setting foot on its surface?

Charles Lindbergh believes the latter, and I am inclined to agree with him.

Carrying the Fire is
Sep 04, 2011 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Simply magnificent! As I've spent the last few days tearing through this engrossing book, I've been mindful of how I might be able to review it once I'd reached its end. Now that I have done so I find that I don't really know quite how to express what it is about Michael Collins' writing that moved me so much - except that I know this is most definitely one of the best memoirs I've ever read. It is truly a one-off, as the events it describes are so unique (most obviously the historic Apollo 11 m ...more
Duncan Cameron
Aug 31, 2014 Duncan Cameron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Compelling account of the heady cold war space race days. Michael Collins is one of the superdudes among amazing top test pilots.
"The third man" of the first lunar landing, and Gemini veteran.
We're talking about a living legend.

An astronaut's journey is exactly that. A journey from almost the start of space exploration to the ultimate beginning of Moon exploration and on.

What a story, and how well told, this has to be in the top 5 astrotales ever.

The only reason I never gave it 5 stars was his p
Simon Dobson
Jan 08, 2016 Simon Dobson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly an inspirational read. Collins' personality comes through perfectly: human, humble, excited by his luck, a keen observer of technical and human features and frailties, not trying to sound other than he is.

This is a book about the space programme taken broadly, perhaps best exemplified by the fact that it takes until page 364 (of 478) to get to the take-off of Apollo 11. Collins talks about his history in joining the programme (at the second attempt), his experiences in the Gemini programme
Aug 18, 2015 Auryn85 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When reaching the last pages of this book I was both eager to read what the last thoughts and conclusions from Collins were, and sad because I wanted more. When I finished reading Carrying the fire, I started questioning the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words". No picture of astronauts, rockets, Moon or Earth can describe the experience of being an astronaut and travelling to space as well as Michael Collins does in this book. Even though it doesnt depict in much detail the first landin ...more
Sep 06, 2015 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've always been fascinated by space, and I've read many books on the subject. But of all the books I've read, "Carrying the Fire" is probably the best. Collins has a wonderful frankness and sense of humor; his experiences as a pilot and astronaut offer a wonderful history of the American space program without the tendency to romanticize those efforts. He offers behind the scenes details (including how the early astronauts peed in space - I confess, I'd wondered about that!) and glimpses at the ...more
May 07, 2016 Millstone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An account of an incredible journey by a very believable, very able, very modest writer. "There were no dull days in my time at NASA so there should be no dull pages in this book": and carries it off. Frightening in places even though the events themselves are well known. Completely unspoilt by the passage of time, either (the 1975 version, that is).
Jul 19, 2011 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't think I would like this book as much as I did. I read the dust jacket at Half Price Books and thought I'd give it a try. Like most people of my generation, I know little about the space program of the 60s. Collins' style (and especially his wonderful sense of humor) kept me hooked from the first page to the last. The fact that we even got into space, let alone traveled to the moon. landed on it, and walked around, is simply amazing after having read what was required to accomplish this ...more
Feb 16, 2013 Erneilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book brought back so many memories of growing up as a teenager in the 1960's and vicariously experiencing the adventures of the astronauts on TV. It brought back the excitement of watching the lift-off of huge rockets with little capsules on top, with the astronauts riding off into space and the fire and explosion beneath them. And it brought back that special summer evening when the family sat glued to the TV to see Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon and hear his now famous first wor ...more
May 09, 2013 Hugh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Collins is the best writer of all the astronauts. His memoir is full of delicious anecdotes about the process of becoming an astronaut and about the office politics and weird public relations efforts involved. His description of what it's like to be alone behind the Moon, isolated from not only the Sun but from all humankind including the LM crew who were necessarily on the front side, is thoughtful and inspiring. Carrying the Fire has made a contribution to vicarious human experience th ...more
Jul 02, 2008 Betsy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is among my favorite space program biographies to date. Michael Collins, often thought of as the "third" astonaut on Apollo 11, recounts his experiences as a test pilot, a Gemnini astronaut and as the Command Module Pilot on Apollo 11. His observations shed light on the inner-worings of NASA during the 1960's, and he shares uncensored thoughts about his astronaut colleagues. While this book might make the average reader's head hurt, it's a great piece for a space buff who already knows a li ...more
Andrew Watson
May 27, 2016 Andrew Watson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographical
A fantastic, very personal account of the first trip to the moon. It really feels like a person telling you the story of how he, in a way, fell into the role of Command Module Pilot through years and years of successes, failures, dice rolls, personal catastrophes and steadfast dedication.
His quotes on being alone in the CSM as it orbited the moon gave me chills, and you really felt the intensity of just what a remarkable achievement landing on the moon - and actually *returning* in one piece -
Jonathan Frankel
This book was one of my favorite reads of the year. It took me awhile to get through (more to the fact that it was a non-Kindle book for me). Collins' insights and storytelling made it read smoothly, even with some of the astronaut-techie lingo. His descriptions of the prep as well as the actual Gemini and Apollo missions were fascinating and insightful. Having grown up in the Apollo era, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Matthew Shinker
Apr 15, 2016 Matthew Shinker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this older book. Michael Collins does an excellent job of covering a bunch of history of the US space program. His experience in multiple missions was easy to read, yet technical in details. Michael was in the CSM orbiting the moon as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men on the moon - that's pretty amazing stuff. Great read and I highly recommend it.
Jan 17, 2015 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book. If your attention wanders during the first fifty pages, do not give up. Collins went to the moon, okay? He knows what's up. So stick with him.

His account of the Gemini 10 flight is some of the most exciting writing I've ever read. Apollo 11 was also awesome, but lacked some of the sparkling wonder of Gemini.

Again, a great book. Loved it. Really. Read it!
Paul Russell
Jun 08, 2015 Paul Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be a well written account of Michael's life and enjoyed it immensely. From his career prior to and including his part in the initial moon landing, all covered in enough detail to keep it interesting and readable without getting overly technical.
Thank you Mr Collins for your book. Inspiring :)
Feb 08, 2016 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meh, this guy calls the moon a planet several times. Was the moon called a planet in the 70's? I learned some interesting things about the space program that I had never considered. Was kind of a boring read at times. I think you really have to dig astronauts to read this book with a smile on your face.
Andrew Smith
Nov 27, 2012 Andrew Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such a fantastic book. Not only does Collins tell it like it is (or rather was), he writes beautifully and is such a personable narrator that I wished the thing could be twice as long as it is.
Mar 13, 2016 Stijn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Anyone who dreamed of being an astronaut as a child will have that yearning reawakened Collins' personal, honest and fun recollection of his days as one of NASA's greatest.
Bill Hayes
Jan 21, 2014 Bill Hayes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book from one of the astronauts who went to the moon. Enough technical detail to give a good understanding of the science and enough human interest to keep it moving along.
Jun 07, 2015 Jesse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely brilliant. I wish I'd read it years ago. It's rekindled my love for all things NASA and left me gawking at the moon with a new sense of wonder.
Sara Damne
Jan 24, 2016 Sara Damne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A masterpiece! So detailed, so technical but still so personal. I'm an even bigger fan of Michael Collins now then before I read this book. Read it
Shannon Tracy
Aug 02, 2015 Shannon Tracy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent account of Collins' experiences as a NASA astronaut, with detailed descriptions of his Gemini and Apollo missions. Highly recommended!
Jul 08, 2015 Ross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best book about the early space program from a genuinely inspiring perspective. I'm honestly going to cherish my copy for years to come.
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Michael Collins is a former American astronaut and test pilot. Selected as part of the third group of fourteen astronauts in 1963, he flew in space twice. His first spaceflight was Gemini 10, in which he and command pilot John Young performed two rendezvous with
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“I am alone now, truly alone, and absolutely isolated from any known life. I am it. If a count were taken, the score would be three billion plus two over on the other side of the moon, and one plus God knows what on this side.” 5 likes
“I am also planning to leave a lot of things undone. Part of life's mystery depends on future possibilities, and mystery is an elusive quality which evaporates when sampled frequently, to be followed by boredom. For example, catching various types of fish is on my list of good things to do, but I would be reluctant to rush into it, even if i had the time. I want no part of destroying fishing as a mysterious sport.” 2 likes
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