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Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  757 ratings  ·  107 reviews
Forty years ago, Buzz Aldrin became the second human, minutes after Neil Armstrong, to set foot on a celestial body other than the Earth. The event remains one of mankind’s greatest achievements and was witnessed by the largest worldwide television audience in history. In the years since, millions more have had their Earth-centric perspective unalterably changed by the ico ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 23rd 2009 by Crown Archetype (first published January 1st 2009)
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An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris HadfieldA Man on the Moon by Andrew ChaikinCarrying the Fire by Michael  CollinsMoondust by Andrew      SmithMagnificent Desolation by Buzz Aldrin
Best Astronauts Books
5th out of 58 books — 57 voters
A Man on the Moon by Andrew ChaikinFailure is Not an Option by Gene KranzThe Right Stuff by Tom WolfeLost Moon by Jim LovellCarrying the Fire by Michael  Collins
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21st out of 260 books — 78 voters

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Community Reviews

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Have you ever come second in a race, losing by a head? Or come as a runner-up in a competition when there had to be a tiebreak? Or perhaps you have always played second fiddle in some plum role? Now add into this fantasy, the idea that your race was a once in a lifetime event, and one which only a handful of people would ever experience. How do you feel?

Now answer this question, "Who was the first person to land on the moon?" OK - Everybody knows it was Neil Armstrong. They might even know the d
I'm a big fan of Buzz Aldrin and the space program in general, but I was disappointed by this book. The first part about the moon landing was interesting, and there were some interesting tidbits about how he felt during the whole thing.

The second part about his struggles back on Earth, and the end of his first marriage, are also interesting, although somewhat flat. That period of his life had to be deeply emotional for him, yet he relays the story as if he was reading the weather report. Mr. Al
First page - he's in the rocket! They're ready to go! Fantastic! I'd braced myself for the customary "early life" section of an autobiography, loaded with dull grandparents, but Aldrin's cut right to the chase.

This was not at all the book I was expecting. Of course we hear all about his trip to the moon in a lot of detail, and it's as awe-inspiring as you might think. But it turns out most of this book takes place on Earth, and deals with something I hadn't really thought about; what happens wh
I listened to the audiobook but I didn't realize when I bought it that it was so new, until I saw Buzz on the TV. Actually, I must have downloaded it on the first day of the release.

It's an interesting story as it shows the depths to which Buzz sank before he dealt with his alcoholism after being catapulted to fame in the NASA astronaut program. It is also a testament to marriage and partnership and how both partners worked to overcome their problems and changed their lives for the better.

Buzz Aldrin is perhaps the most colorful astronaut in history (thus far). And this memoir shows off Buzz in all his quirkiness. As the book depicts, within three years of returning from the moon, Buzz was already far-removed from the proverbial no nonsense, cool-headed image of an astronaut.

Don't expect a detailed, epic recounting of the Apollo 11 flight. Buzz and his collaborator Ken Abraham dispense with the legendary mission in the first three chapters. This is a book about Buzz's life post-
I have been waiting for this book since last July as we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. I expected to read more about the actual flight and time ON the moon, but discovered that it was a book primarily about Buzz Aldrin's life after Apollo 11 returned home. I should have figured that out since the title says "The long journey home from the moon", but silly me I thought it was about coming home literally from the moon.

While perhaps interesting to some, it wa
It took courage to write this book.

After returning from the moon, Buzz Aldrin spiraled into depression and alcoholism. Having bouts of depression myself, it is not an easy thing to confess to. Too many people do not understand depression, and telling someone to "cheer up! " doesn't cut it.

Further, despite great strides, there is still a considerable stigma associated with depression and even more stigma attached to addiction disease. It took courage for someone very much in the public eye to a
Steve Van Slyke
Nov 19, 2011 Steve Van Slyke rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Steve by: Amazon
Shelves: space, kindle
This was probably my least favorite of the astronaut bio's that I've read so far, primarily because it often dives rather deeply into some tedious details of Aldrin's personal life. Sometimes, in these kinds of books we are left craving for more, but in this one I found a little bit too much and in some cases it got awfully syrupy and other cases overly self-serving.

Still, I have to credit Buzz for telling the other side of the story as well, being frankly honest about how useless he could be co
I think this memoir was mentioned in Mary Roach's Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void or possible Mike Mullane's Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut; either way, I checked out the library's Kindle version and spent several days with Mr. Aldrin.

As you might guess from the subtitle, this memoir starts with the events of Apollo 11 (which are wonderfully described and easily the best part of this book) and traces his life from that high point. Ald

Aldrin is a national iconic figure, brilliant man, and a person with a strong commitment to his country and his profession/obsession. He is also a person struggling with depression, anxiety, and a constant need to acquit himself. The result is an honest book about Aldrin's accomplishments and shortcomings, and a self-absorbed attempt to convince his readers and himself that all was well. I found it painful to read -- he is a fine man caught in impossible standards and floods of ideas that seem t
Robert Marsh
This is the book to read If you want to know what it's like to be an astronaut. To know what it's like to walk on the moon when you're young then walk the earth for the rest of your life with that moment of glory and bliss forever crouched on your shoulder. The story of Buzz Aldrin is an exceptionally human story of an exceptional human being. I admire the man and his openness.
Having read Neil Armstrong's autobiography some months ago this one just leapt off the bookstore shelf into my hand. It is easily one of the most honest and open biographies I have evr read. Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins (Apollo 11) were my boyhood heroes and remain among my heroes even now. So to see the pain Buzz went through after the moonlanding was shocking and horrible, but to see how he battled and came through it, well I have immense respect for him.

Just to finish this review the inciden
Disappointing. The first part of the book contains Buzz's account of the first moon-landing -- that part was great. The rest of the book is about his struggles to deal with fame and what to do with the rest of his life. While it is true that we rarely think about what happens to people after they reach the pinnacle of their lives, this book seems to wallow in his struggles with alcoholism, marriage and career. I felt like it would never end.
Prasidh Ramson
I expected this book to detail Buzz Aldrin's journey from Earth to Moon (pun intended) and back again.

I was pleasantly surprised when his lunar odyssey was dispensed with in the first 2 Chapters. Even in these short chapters, some amazing details of the Apollo program (it was customary to have a large eggs and bacon breakfast on the morning of each launch), spacecraft (both the Command Module and Lunar Lander only had 74kb of storage each!) and their landing and moonwalk (cameras used by astron
Dave Milbrandt
All I really knew about Buzz Aldrin before I read this book was his status as a moonwalker and that he was the most visible of the three men of the Apollo 11 mission. It was nice to learn a great deal more, particularly about his deep passion for returning to space. The book is an easy read and he really doesn't hold much back when it comes to his failures in life. Thankfully he blends a good deal of humility into his narrative, or some passages would seem rather egocentric. His clarion call for ...more
nonfiction/memoir. 1st 2 chapters cover the Apollo 11 mission; next 4-6 hours take Buzz to Korea War and through a LOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNGG battle against depression and alcoholism. Granted, this is a difficult battle, and it understandably could take up a big portion of a person's life, but unfortunately it does not make for good reading/listening. It's the equivalent of arguing with an irrational person for hours and hours--because that's what it is to try and get help for a person that doesn't ac ...more
Aug 18, 2015 Alisha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2015
I really liked this book. Buzz's description of going to the moon was really fantastic, and it was fascinating to read about his life and depression/alcoholism afterwards--and then how he managed to overcome it all and go on to advocate space tourism/exploration. I would not say that this was the cleverest or most literary book I ever read, and I do not think it makes Aldrin out to be a perfect guy by any means, but I appreciated his honesty and straightforwardness and the glimpse into a remarka ...more
Devonne West
The first two-thirds of this book was interesting as Buzz Aldrin talks about his experience on the moon and the troubles he faces after his return. He shares his struggles with depression and alcohol and how meeting his new wife, in actuality, saved him. The last part of the book was a struggle as he talked about all of his celebrity and royalty "friends." As I read, it seemed more and more like name-dropping and bragging. Every space idea any person could possibly imagine was discussed briefly ...more
I found the first three chapters about Apollo 11 to be fascinating and interesting. After Buzz finished talking about the moon mission, he then wrote about his insuing depression, alcoholism, and marital problems. Eventually, Buzz found the love of his life and he wrote about that relationship and his space travel advocacy in the rest of the book. He devoted a whole chapter telling the story of the love of his life, Lois, and spent a good deal of the last 120 pages telling us about how great she ...more
I liked the first part of this book, a lot! However, the latter half felt more like a commercial pitch than a story, it faded a little as the book drew to a close. Don't get me wrong, I agree with the author that NASA has stalled somewhat, and that cooperation with private companies is a good idea from both a research and financial point of view, I just felt that this particular point could have been made in fewer chapters without it damaging the overall integrity of the story.

That said, the par
This book was a very interesing book. It showed me a part of Buzz Aldrin's life that I hadn't known about. After coming home from the moon he had two divorces and an addiction to alchol.The book I think was for adluts but I read it any way. I was interested because when I grow up I want to be an astronaut.
I learned what it was like to be famous and the toll it can take on you.Also it taught me that astronauts don't always have a lot of money and are famous all the time after comming back from
After reading another autobiography about the space program and also while currently reading one, I finally feel like reviewing Buzz Aldrin's, the second man on the moon, autobiography.

Literary-wise, it was a boring read. If you expect to read about the space program and the challenges faced by the early astronauts, you will be as sorely disappointed as I did. Less than half of the book was about the program with hardly any technical explanations. I finished with only a minuscule additional unde
In this most recent memoir, Buzz Aldrin, the second man to have walked on the moon, recaps the past 40 years of his life since, and including, his historic trip. The first two chapters are a highly riveting and suspenseful account of the moon landing that I greatly recommend to everyone to read. He provides a detailed play-by-play of the events surrounding the moon landing and I found myself holding my breath as he described the mishaps and potential disasters, even though I was aware of the suc ...more
Magnificent Desolation by Buzz Aldrin is a great autobiography of a pilot and engineer who found coming home from the moon harder than getting there. In only 316 pages he gives a good account of his life up to July 1969, then talks about a lot of little details of the actual lunar trip, and then the final 2/3rd about the crushing depression, the undetected alcoholism, and finally the long, rocky road to recovery and life purpose.

Buzz says people love to tell him where they were when Buzz and Nei
ughh. i slogged through it!

this book started out with a bang - no early life - right into launch and onto the moon. then it quickly heads downhill and never really resurrects itself.

i didnt know anything about buzz aldrin before this. i now know way more than i ever wanted.

there is a section of the book right in the middle where he basically apologized to everyone that he was mean to while he was a drunk. not just a list, a page about the person, a page about the problem and then a line about ho
Zohar -
For most of us, whether we want to admit it or not, the highlight of our lives, the event which we define ourselves, the successful summit to the Mt. Olympus of our existence, happened before we were 25.

For an aerospace engineer with an inquisitive and fertile mind it seemed a disappointment that it happened at age 39.

This book is divided into three parts.
Part 1: Getting to the moon and back.
A fascinating first hand account which I, for one, cannot get enough and worth the price of the book.
Alan Wightman
I will echo the comments of many other reviewers. The first three chapters are compelling, describing in some detail the Apollo XI flight. I would recommend to other readers that they stop at this point. I carried on to page 260 before finally finding something more interesting to read.

From the fourth chapter on, the story becomes flaccid. This is a little surprising because Aldrin's life after NASA sounds quite interesting. He suffers from depression, partly because he struggles with the quest
I had a lot of emotions while listening to Buzz's book on CD. I enjoyed hearing his perspective of the Apollo 11 mission. Everyone assumes that being the second man to set foot on the moon would be the source of some frustration and while Buzz suffered frustration, when he returned to earth, he actually wished he could have gone on a later mission to the moon, because the later missions stayed longer and did more for science.

Buzz recognized his problem with depression and sought help. In the er
For the most part, this book was really interesting. I loved reading about the moon landing and Aldrin's current endeavors in space exploration and tourism. It got a little dry (ironically) when he delved into his spiraling depression and alcoholism, and the writing was very repetitive. When I'm reading books written by people who aren't writers, I actually appreciate when the writing isn't great. That means that they're focusing on telling me their experience, that they actually lived, instead ...more
As I sat in my tree stand 50 feet off of the ground at night to be able to view first light in the morning, I experienced magnificent desolation. I looked up at the full magnificence of the moon, and said to myself, “I swear I can see Neil Armstrong’s face in the glowing white magnificence of the lunar surface.” This is shortly after Mr. Armstrong passed. I flocked to Mr. Aldrin’s book at first because he was someone who I looked up to and if I wanted to be like anybody, I wanted to be like him ...more
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Buzz Aldrin (born Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr., January 20, 1930) is an engineer and former American astronaut, and the second person to walk on the Moon. He was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history. He set foot on the Moon at 03:15:16 (UTC) on July 21, 1969, following mission commander Neil Armstrong. He is also a retired colonel in the United States Air Forc ...more
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