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The Last Man on the Moon: Astronaut Eugene Cernan and America's Race in Space

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  2,195 ratings  ·  132 reviews
The basis of the 2014 award-winning feature-length documentary! A revealing and dramatic look at the inside of the American Space Program from one of its pioneers.

Eugene Cernan was a unique American who came of age as an astronaut during the most exciting and dangerous decade of spaceflight. His career spanned the entire Gemini and Apollo programs, from being the first per
Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published March 22nd 1999)
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A Man on the Moon by Andrew ChaikinThe Right Stuff by Tom WolfeFailure is Not an Option by Gene KranzLost Moon by Jim LovellCarrying the Fire by Michael  Collins
Space Race! Books
264 books — 129 voters
An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris HadfieldFailure is Not an Option by Gene KranzA Man on the Moon by Andrew ChaikinThe Last Man on the Moon by Eugene CernanThe Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
The Space Age
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Heather Domin
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. I did not expect to like this as much as I did! I thought it would be funny, maybe snarky, and it was both, but it was also poignant, authentic, and surprisingly honest. The BS level was blessedly low, the writing was conversational and amiable, and while he focused on the positive, no punches were pulled. (I don't think he and Buzz Aldrin will be BFFs any time soon.) The Gemini 9 spacewalk was painful to read - you don't get that level of description in documentaries. I kept reading ...more
Jerry Smith
Jan 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
One of the most approachable, readable and entertaining astronaut books I have read. Cernan writes with a minimum of technical detail and as a result we get a close up view of the human side of his story and therefore of Apollo and Gemini itself.

To get an idea of the stories of the individual flights of these programs it really pays to read the bios and autobios of those that flew them and this is no exception. You don't get to hear about Apollo 17 very often although it was one of the most suc
Hai Quan
Jun 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
Man is without doubt the worst animal among all species of living organisms : We are the only animal that have the ability to kill and had killed millions of fellow beings instantly or in a very short timè thanks to the advance technology. that leaded to the mass manufacturing of lethal weapon enable the evil political big ass HONCHOS to carry out the wholesale massacre that we have never witnessed before.
Hiroshima and Viet Nam is just but two in thousands of incidences.
But that is not all of t
J.F. Duncan
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stumbled across the documentary of the same name last week, and then ordered the book, read it in three days and then re-watched the documentary... I know I'll come back to this one again. Excellent awe-inspiring read. ...more
Aug 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2020
With a career involving one of the earliest spacewalks as part of the Gemini programme as well as two missions to the moon during Apollo, including commanding the final moon mission that made him (to this date, anyway) the last man on the moon, Gene Cernan has plenty of material available to him for a fascinating memoir. He also, apparently, has an axe to grind with some of his fellow astronauts, particularly Buzz Aldrin whom he goes out of his way to disparage in ways I have never encountered f ...more
The Last Man on the Moon is a unique entry among books about the Apollo program, in that Gene Cernan is one of only three men who flew to the moon twice (Jim Lovell and John Young are the others).

The book's biggest surprise was Cernan's low opinion of Buzz Aldrin. To my knowledge, Cernan is the only astronaut to portray Aldrin as overrated--and I'm convinced there's some professional animosity behind it:

Cernan had serious problems on his Gemini 9A spacewalk, and he was damn lucky he even got ba
Jamie Collins
3.5 stars. A nice memoir from astronaut Gene Cernan, who performed the world’s third spacewalk during Gemini 9, orbited the moon for Apollo 10, and was the last man to walk on the moon (so far) during Apollo 17.

He offers a frank thumbnail sketch of the early astronauts: the original Mercury 7, the “New Nine”, and his own group, “The Fourteen”, all of whom were his direct competition for mission slots. He speaks highly of most, but not all of his fellow astronauts; for instance, he is distinctly
Oct 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
If you enjoyed "From Earth to the Moon" or even "Apollo 13", you'll like this book.

This is the autobiography of Eugene Cernan, the commander of the last Apollo lunar mission--of his entire life, but with special emphasis (understandably!) on the development of the American space program. He recounts his early life that led him through engineering and military training, describes how he became involved with the space program, and his efforts with (and sometimes against) it. He gives personalities
John Ess
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Eugene Cernan was the sort of person who really liked the trimmings that went along with being an astronaut in the glory days. The celebrity seemed to appeal to him and his wife and he really knew how to socialise, and, of course, he was the last man to walk on the moon - to date. Mercury 7 and Gemini was covered well from his perspective. An interesting read full of plenty of background details.
History Geek
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
I've read a number of historical biographies, auto biographies, and narratives, but this was my first about the space program. What a great book, the authors had an exceptional tone where you really could grasp Captain Cernan's emotions in the moment he was describing. Amazingly, he also doesn't pull punches, which in our ultra politically correct climate is refreshing as you can really tell how he felt about certain people or things. It was a bit self righteous to refer to so many celebrities a ...more
Oct 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I found this book simply fascinating. I generally have a hard time getting "hooked" on non-fiction even when I am interested in the topic. This book gives a great history of the early space program culminating in the historic moon landings of the Apollo program. Seeing this history through the eyes of one who lived through it, and riding along side him through his own struggles and triumphs provides the hook that is so often lacking in non-fiction. I felt my heart racing in anticipation during t ...more
Nick Rolston
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cernan's autobiography describing his career as an astronaut is inevitably biased, and it doesn't try to be impartial. I like that about the book, as it gives a glimpse into his character as a no-nonsense workaholic (he documents the struggle in his marriage that ultimately led to divorce) with no tolerance for people who don't play by the rules (Buzz Aldrin as one of them). His narration using simple analogies to better understand the "feel" of space was compelling, and I will always remember t ...more
Margie Siegler
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who is curious about space travel
Recommended to Margie by: My son Jason
This book gave me so much pride in America’s ingenuity and passion for achievement and a longing for those times I grew up in. Yes not perfect but oh so much more moral and simple. It made me amazed and fascinated in something I only paid a small amount of attention to at the time. When I look at the moon now I feel so different -it’s a place. Highly recommended this book.
C. Alaimo
Interesting view of the space program but I could have done without the commentary on the personal life. Author comes across as brash and arrogant.
Haley Hofmann
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love books that tell these stories. They encourage me to look up, keep dreaming, and to reach for the stars.
Thanks, Gene.
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Told by pioneering astronaut Eugene Cernan, this is the story of America’s Apollo program, designed to land man on the surface of the moon. Chronicling the successes, the failures, and the close calls, Cernan puts a personal spin on the story of America in space as he shares his personal thoughts: the fear, the love, the sacrifice demanded from the small cadre of men who aimed for the moon. Here, along with the facts and several pages of pictures, readers will find the feelings and the experienc ...more
Joana Lima
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: meus-livros
Awesome book. Recomend to all space loving bookies :)
Melinda Elizabeth
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I will say this: I found it difficult to read past Eugene's idol-worshipping of Von Braun. After reading 'The Nazi's Next Door' - a few months before I picked up The Last Man On the Moon, there was a bit of a pause from me when I was reading this book, and Eugene's love for the scientist. I think it would have been in better taste to perhaps tone down the awe, as it comes across as incredibly strange to leave this sentiment in the book when there's been a lot said about Von Braun prior to this n ...more
C.W. Roe
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chicago
I read in the paper that Gene Cernan died yesterday. When I was a little kid, we had this assignment where we stood up in front of the class and talked about our favorite astronaut. Cernan was mine, and I was saddened to read of his passing.

If you have a long night drive ahead--preferably one with a sky full of stars and a big moon--I can't say enough good things about his book "The Last Man On The Moon." The audio version is far better than the paper, because he reads it. You can hear the pride
Andrew Bulthaupt
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: space
I listened to this book via Audible.

In my mind, the Apollo program is one of mankind's greatest achievements. In less than a decade we went from just getting a man into space to sending them to the moon and back - something we have not matched in the over-forty years since.

Getting to hear about the space program from the perspective of one of the astronauts was amazing. I have watched interviews and dramatizations such as From the Earth to the Moon, but hearing it in Gene's own words, with his p
Steve Walker
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nikolas Kalar
Reading Eugene Cernan's "The Last Man on the Moon" was an interesting and different experience for me. Most books I read can be broken down into one of two categories: read for the purposes of a vaguely scholarly autodidacticism, or read for the purposes of entertainment and personal growth. Cernan's memoir, however, falls somewhere in between. Not only am I immensely interested and entertained by space-science, space-travel, and the history of the space race in my own personal life, but I was a ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: apollo-history
There's a lot of good stuff here; if you're interested in the space program, I recommend it.

I started to say "interested in Apollo", but this book has plenty of material on Gemini, and the US space program in general, from the time Cernan joined it in 1963. In fact, Gemini 9 and his tortured space walk might be the best-told part of the book. The accounts of Apollo 10, circling the moon, and 17, walking and driving there, are maybe less sharp, but certainly also worth it.

His early experiences as
Bedrooped Bookworms
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve enjoyed several books by former astronauts, including books by John Glenn, Clayton Anderson, Jim Lovell, John Kelly, and Jerry Linengar. Some books have been more impressive than others, and some astronauts have been more impressive…and some (many) seem incredibly arrogant. At the beginning I thought Eugene Cernan would fall into the better category but by the end it’s clear the fame got to his head a bit. Regardless, his descriptions of walking on the moon, surrounded by tall mountains and ...more
Tara van Beurden
Eugene Cernan was the last man to walk on the Moon, a title he still holds almost 50 years after the event took place. His journey to achieve the title was an arduous one, including a truly terrifying spacewalk in the Gemini missions, a helicopter accident that could have killed him and a leg injury months before his trip to the Moon as commander of Apollo 17. A documentary of the same name as this book was produced and released a few years ago. Cernan's story is an interesting one, and his is p ...more
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My wife got me this book soon after it came out. I started it a couple times but never continued. I don't know why as I've always been fascniated by the original NASA explorations. Anyway, I just read it and really enjoyed it. An excellent history of NASA, the space program and how he started out and eventually got into the program. Yes, he sometimes shows his ego but, man, all astronauts better have an ego and think they are great. Yet, he's humble at times and it's a nice balance. Props to him ...more
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I was a big follower of the space program although I admit to losing interest after the first moon landing just as the author described. Obviously I wasn't thinking about the extreme dangers the astronauts continued to be in during the moon trips. The moments I remember are of course Apollo 11 but especially Apollo 8 and the bible readings on Christmas Eve as they orbited the moon. There's nothing religious about me but that was a very moving moment. The drive to expl ...more
fascinating guy, really well written auto-biography of the last man (at this moment) to stand on the moon.
tracks his military and NASA career, his family life and the various Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions
there are some references to the underlying social changes happening, but mostly insulated in the his right-stuff world
really get a sense of the tension of the space race and the competition between the astronaut candidates
seems to be an honest account, not always flattering to himself, in
Rachel Grepke
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Going to the moon seemed like an impossible feat, but we did it. Through the eyes of astronaut Eugene Cernan, this book takes you on a wild ride through the space program, its successes and failures, the behind the scenes moments and the truth of walking on the moon. His explanation of how things happened and his descriptions of history put you right there in the moment. By then end, you will be wishing there were more pages to turn. The only negative to be found in this writing is the amount of ...more
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read for space buffs about Cernan’s experience in Gemini & Apollo

I grew up following the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. As the years passed I have read other books, some by astronauts and others involved in the space program. I enjoyed Cernan’s book, especially getting an insight into some of the other astronauts he served with. He took me along with him on his Gemini mission, Apollo 10, and culminating with Apollo 17. I felt like I was with him on his missions.

I enjoyed reading abou
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Eugene Cernan was an American astronaut who traveled into space three times and was the last human to walk on the Moon since 1972. He was also a naval aviator, electrical engineer, aeronautical engineer, and fighter pilot.

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“Enriched by a singular event that is larger than life, I no longer have the luxury of being ordinary. To stand on the lunar surface and look back at our Earth creates such a personal sense of awe that even Alan Shepard wept at the view. Trying to exist within the paradox of being in this world after visiting another may be why some Moon voyagers tend to be reclusive.” 1 likes
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