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The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years

(The Fifty-Year Mission #1)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  727 ratings  ·  150 reviews
This is the unauthorized, uncensored and unbelievable true story behind the making of a pop culture phenomenon. The original Star Trek series debuted in 1966 and has spawned five TV series spin-offs and a dozen feature films, with an upcoming one from Paramount arriving in 2016. The Fifty-Year Mission is a no-holds-barred oral history of five decades of Star Trek, told by ...more
ebook, 544 pages
Published June 28th 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books
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4.09  · 
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Well, certainly I didn’t enjoy it as I’d expected.

This book is the first volume (of two) covering the 50 years of “Star Trek”.


I was so excited about this book that I didn’t think it twice once I saw it in the shelves of a local bookstore and I bought it.

Maybe I should give it some thought.

I am a Trekker, proudly for 29 years so far. I had watched some of the movies of the classic crew (The Wrath of Khan remains as my favorite movie in the franchise), but the original
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an entertaining oral history of the first 25 years of Star Trek. It told the story of Start Trek from the conception of the original series right through to the final Kirk/Spock Trek movie. A coherent story was told from a collection of interviews and comments from the people involved in building Trek over the years. I feel like the authors of this did a good job with that as this turned out to be an engaging and interesting book.

I'm a Star Trek fan but must admit I've never been a big
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-biography
This was a great read...and not because it's a great book.

I'm not even sure you can call it a book in the standard sense of the expectation. It isn't written so much as it's arranged, consisting of a multitude of quotes strung together as a sort of communal tale of woe. And that's something you should know. No one's happy here. No one's satisfied. Which tickles me all the way to Ceti Alpha V and back again. I loved this the way I love an old sweatshirt, a beat-up truck, the spatter of a sauce st
Carol Storm
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy -- they were the glory of their times!

All right, I'm cheating in giving this mammoth oral history of STAR TREK a five star review. I only picked it up last night and I've only read the first sixty pages so far. But how can you possibly go wrong with an epic collection of interviews with hundreds of people who all gave their lives to make STAR TREK into a vast wellspring of art, entertainment and enlightenment?

Everyone from the old gang is here, and the insights are startli
Stevie Kincade
The Fifty-Year Mission: The complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek Also known as: Gene Roddenberry was a hack and a horrible human being who took almost all of the credit for the good work of others

On a recent episode of the Bruce Prichard podcast he was asked about a "hatchet job" documentary he contributed to. He answered words to the effect of "It wasn't a hatchet job, if you interview 25 people for your documentary and 24 of them can't find anything nice to say abou
This might be fun to leaf through in paper, but as an audiobook it was just way too much trivial content. It was like a deep fat fried Twinkie. The first hour was nothing save a list of who's who - great to skim & refer to in a paper book, but bewildering & finally torturous in audio even when well narrated & this was. It was actually a cast, so many times we heard the actual people telling us what they thought & I expected it to get better.

The next hour had about 15 minutes of c
Jul 14, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction

There must have been a last-minute title change on this book, because the original title had to have been The Big Book of Star Trek Egos: The Early Years.

It’s common knowledge that there was no little bit of conflict on the TOS set, due in part to Gene R.’s unsurpassed talent for making enemies wherever he went. Somehow the format of the book-- frequently contradictory quotes from many interviews-- amplifies the tensions to the point that it seems amazing they got anything usable on film.

Once t
A bit repetitive, and not just because I knew a lot of this from reading Shatner’s various memoirs and other Trek books. Entertaining, even if I don’t love the oral history format, but basically an amuse bouche for volume two, which will be fresher content for me.
Scott Williams
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The publishers sent me an ARC in exchange for a fair review.

I've read pretty much everything that's ever been published about the making of Star Trek and I've been to many conventions and heard all the stories a hundred times so I was skeptical that this book would reveal anything new. I'm so glad I read it!

I expected a straightforward, narrative history of the franchise because I missed the words "Oral History" in the subtitle. After some brief introductions by the authors and Seth MacFarlane,
Tom Rowe
When I was in jr high, I bought a book from the school book fair called "The Making of Star Trek." I picked it up because it was full of great photos and sketches from the TV show. As the name reveals, it was about the making of the TV show Star Trek. I loved that book.

This book runs along a similar vein, but it tells the history of the first 25 of the first 50 years, covering the creation and run of the original series, the animated series and the first six movies. It too is awesome. It draws
Ever since William Shatner committed his memories about working on Star Trek to print, it seems like there have been a lot of books pulling back the curtain on what went on behind the scenes of the original series. And if you were to take the time to put together all those various accounts of what went into creating Star Trek, whether it be from the technical, creative or personal side, you’d probably get a fairly good idea of how the original series came to be on our screens.

But if you don’t ha
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: star-trek, sci-fi, history
The Fifty-Year Mission bills itself as "the complete, uncensored, unauthorized oral history of Star Trek," with Volume 1 spanning the making of The Original Series, The Animated Series, and the first six movies.

What the authors mean by "oral history" is that the vast majority of the book is made up of succinct quotations drawn from three decades of interviews. You hear differing perspectives, from key players on-screen and behind-the-scenes, "superfans" like Bjo and John Trimble, as well as from
Michael Hicks
As most Trekkies likely know, there was as much, if not more so, drama behind the scenes than ever made it to screen. The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years recounts all of the various conflicts that went into creating this franchise from the people who witnessed it all first-hand.

On the one hand, thanks to plenty of hindsight and having grown up in a world permeated by the existence of Star Trek in some form or another, it s
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
The authors use an oddly captivating way to tell a story. They use snippets from each of the players who had something to do with making of the the show or the first six movies and let them tell their story in less than one minute or less vignettes. It means that as with everyone when they tell their own story they will always be a hero within their own narrative and sometimes the truth of what really happens gets obscured because the authors aren't editing the story, but, are rather, presenting ...more
Crystal Bensley
An interesting book but I didn't love the snippets of quote style. Still a good read.
This is a long book: 500 plus pages of behind the scenes drama gleaned from new and historical interviews from the cast, crew, and creative minds behind the making of Star Trek for the first twenty-five years of its history. It didn't really read like that long of a book, though. I've always loved behind the scenes stories, and oral histories are a particularly good format for that. So much room for conflicting opinions. Lots of insight and drama. Lots of gross stories about Gene Roddenberry. (P ...more
This book starts off a little dry and clinical but once it begins to delve into the issues surrounding the creation of the show and movies it gets interesting. It's not a tell-all bitchfest or anything but it's refreshing how open and honest a lot of the major players are.

For the most part everyone involved is quite civil, but I got a definite vibe that Star Trek's nominal creator Gene Roddenberry was somewhat of an ego maniac and a bit of a prick. He was jealous of anyone else getting the sligh
Bernd Schiffer
15% into the audiobook, I had enough of it. I skipped several chapters to get to some kind of narrative. There is a section in those early bits where they list all (?) the credits of 50 years of Star Trek. For. 40. Minutes! Thanks, but no thanks. And even later in the book it's a full patch work of snippets voiced by different narrators, just giving pieces of information without any coherent story. I found that boring.
Great listen for a carload of Trekkies on a trip. Or several in our case. This is a huge Studs Terkel-style oral history of those involved in the making of Star Trek and the Trek phenomenon. What I learned--Hollywood has always been a mess. It is a miracle they accomplish or make anything. They also have a horrible track record of missing what is obvious to fans. Gene Roddenberry was kind of an a**hole and difficult to work with. Sometimes difficult creative people need their ideas taken away an ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once you get used to the way this book is structured, it becomes an interesting read. Essentially this is a written documentary, with the plot driven by quotes from people involved in the making of the Trek franchise.

The most surprising thing is that Trek was actually able to become the cultural phenomenon it is today when you see all the egos, bickering, and plain stupidity of the people involved - From Gene Roddenberry and on.
Stephen Robertson
I clap my little hands with glee!!!

Pre-ordered this book, and have LOVED reading it. The premise is fascinating (!), all interviews that Edward Gross and Mark Altman have made with directors and actors and producers (and others) involved in Star Trek across many many years have been organized into chronological chapters. Interviews are interleaved between people based on topics, so it is like sitting in a room while everyone around you talks and discusses people and events. Rather like a family
Richard Guion
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are any kind of Star Trek fan at all of the TOS (The Original Series) and love behind the scenes stories, this book was made for you. I loved every gossipy minute of it. Gene Roddenberry is possibly the most insecure creator of a franchise ever. He had the initial idea, sold it to a network, defended his idea went the networks tried to water it down, did two pilots, supervised a handful of episodes and then turned it over to Gene Coon, who ran the rest of the first and second seasons. And ...more
Paul Dinger
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, a lot of this book is crap. It starts off with a very overlong cast of characters and worse of all for we audio listeners, it starts with a frustratingly long list of dedications. I really thought I was going to hate it at this point. The surprise is that this is actual a very objective story of how Star Trek got on TV, how and why it was a success despite bad acting, horrible special effects, terrible scripts, and a meglomanical producer who was probably the full reason it was cancelled. ...more
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Hate to be a buzzkill with my meager three stars for this. Here's the deal: The content of this book is excellent. Must-read for anyone interested in the history of Trek. No doubt about it. But the lack of attributions referencing where each person's comments come from--the lack of sources, in other words--is hugely problematical. As is the fact that people's comments have been placed in a certain flow where the context reshapes their meaning; you have recent comments being followed by decades-o ...more
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a whole lot about Star Trek. I've read every main actor's memoir who wrote one. I've read Shatner's Star Trek Memories and Star Trek Movie Memories several times. This is definitely far more complete and covers every possible perspective you could. It was fascinating to see Harve Bennett's thoughts about coming in after The Motion Picture, Robert Wise's experience directing that film, and the perspective of various writers, producers, and techs. It's like attending a dream convention p ...more
Miles Watson
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a compulsively readable, highly entertaining, and very thoroughly executed oral history of "Star Trek" from its inception as a failed television pilot in the mid-1960s to the release of the final feature film containing the whole of the original cast in 1991. (If the math of that seems off, it is because is the first of two volumes, the second beginning with The Next Generation TV series that began in 1987 and films and culminating in the Abrams reboot in 2009.) While it is obviously int ...more
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book after an enthusiastic review by a friend, especially since i'm a fan of nearly everything Star Trek. It is packed full of interesting information, from a variety of sources, and I really enjoyed reading it. This book covers the original cast through the original series and the six movies, wrapping up at the end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The next book in the series will pick up with Star Trek: The Next Generation and the small bit of overlap between the last ...more
Paul Spence
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Growing up in the seventies, I fell in love with Star Trek watching the reruns on TV. Even after the success of Star Wars, I was always a Star Trek guy. This book claims to be “the complete, uncensored, unauthorised oral history of Star Trek”.

Though this book claims to focus on “the first 25 years”, it cheats a bit. It would more accurately claim to be the book that covers the series of the original cast. Thus, it covers the original series and the movies through Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered C
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are a whole bunch of pieces of pop culture that one could argue are "cornerstones of pop culture." I don't think any of them quite hold a candle to Star Trek, though. If we hadn't had Gene Roddenberry's vision, we wouldn't have a whole host of television shows and movies that we have today. And what better way to understand that than by reading exactly what the men and women involved thought?

Altman and Gross have collected a wide swath of statements from both the key players to the bit par
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #44 - The Fifty Year Mission: The first 25 years 1 3 Oct 27, 2016 11:47AM  

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The Fifty-Year Mission (2 books)
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“ROD RODDENBERRY There was a great quote that D. C. Fontana said about Nichelle Nichols and having a black officer on the bridge and what my father said to that. Apparently, he would get letters from the TV stations in the South saying they won’t show Star Trek because there is a black officer, and he’d say, “Fuck off, then.” 1 likes
“The gentleman who plays it in the new Star Trek movies is great, but he’s acting. Leonard was Spock. He was always the character.” 0 likes
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