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Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon

4.56  ·  Rating details ·  2,050 ratings  ·  399 reviews
The inside, lesser-known story of NASA's boldest and riskiest mission: Apollo 8, mankind's first journey to the Moon on Christmas in 1968. A riveting account of three heroic astronauts who took one of the most dangerous space flights ever, from the New York Times bestselling author of Shadow Divers.

In early 1968, the Apollo program was on shaky footing. President
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Random House
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Sherri It doesn't necessarily add anything to the story of going to the moon, but it definitely does a great job just setting the context of the time and the…moreIt doesn't necessarily add anything to the story of going to the moon, but it definitely does a great job just setting the context of the time and the accomplishment much better than Kluger's book did. (As someone who did not live through the time, I have very much enjoyed the weaving the tale of American history with the personal story of going to the moon)(less)
Kath Yes. All three astronauts are still alive, and did an onstage interview at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry in April 2018. They are all…moreYes. All three astronauts are still alive, and did an onstage interview at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry in April 2018. They are all still spry and lively!(less)

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Cindy Burnett
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rocket Men is the masterfully depicted tale of the three courageous astronauts who pioneered humankinds’ first trip to the moon and the NASA engineers and other employees who made such a journey possible. 1968 was a tumultuous year in the United States with the escalation of the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F Kennedy, Nixon’s election as President, and massive protests and riots happening throughout the country. Meanwhile, the Soviet/United States space r ...more
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Kurson's incredible book "Rocket Men" tells one of the greatest stories of adventure in the modern age, a story that captivated not just the nation, but the entire world. It's the story of the race to the moon. If you loved The Right Stuff and Apollo 13, you'll love this book. After the Soviets launched Sputnik, the space race had begun and, although John Kennedy set getting to the moon within ten years as a goal, it almost didn't happen. Growing up, we all knew the names of the three astronauts ...more
How is it even possible to make a book about space that I don't love? Here are some ways:

- Continuous, unrepentant use of idioms and clichés. If you're quoting someone or deliberately reflecting the patterns of speech of your subjects (think Tom Wolfe in The Right Stuff ) that's one thing. If you're reaching for the easiest phrase in the phrasebook, that's ... lazy. This was definitely not the former.

- Indistinguishable voices. Every line of this book felt uniform in tone and pattern. This does
Scott S.
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
1968 - America was not having a particularly good year. Whether it was the surprise Tet Offensive, the capture of the USS Pueblo, the riots in the streets of Chicago during the DNC, or the double-tragedy of the Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations, many headline news stories were often casting a fairly bleak view for the country. But in the final weeks there was a story that, if only for a few brief moments, raised the spirits for some of the nation during the holiday season.

Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 is a very compelling narrative history of the first and very risky journey of man leaving earth to orbit the moon. Kurson, like in his previous work, Shadow Divers, delves deeply into the context of a singular event, and makes the unique fit into the larger history.

With Rocket Men, the primary focus is on astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders. While appropriate attention is devoted to their three families back in Houston, events in Missio
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, abandoned
This is an excellent read and I think most with an interest in anything space will really enjoy it. For me, perhaps it's because I've read SO much about the space program, I found it it to be somewhat pedestrian. I didn't find too much here that I didn't already know something about and didn't think this telling brought that much new to the story.
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars, nonfiction
Kurson keeps it simple in this telling of the Apollo 8 mission. While this book will inevitably suffer from comparison to "The Right Stuff," our first trip to the moon is such a fantastic story that Kurson really didn't need to dress it up. The author deserves credit for being able to explain the significance of the event and the healing power it provided our country at the conclusion of a very trying year. At times the narrative gets a little cheesy, but the flaws of this book are of the nit-pi ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: advance-read, history
Rocket Men is a record of America's space program's efforts to beat the Soviets in getting to the moon. It mentions Apollo 1 disaster that took three lives and caused the acceleration of American efforts. Apollo 8's entire workup and mission is laid out. This is a decent work about space exploration and NASA. My copy was a free review copy through
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is an extensive and exhaustive summary of the Apollo 8 mission and the United State’s race to the moon. Author Robert Kurson combines incredible research with a searing human perspective. It is a remarkable reference, and should be on every school syllabus. Kurson finds the passion behind his subject matter. In this case, the passion involves astrophysics, aviation, and engineering, so the book has a distinctly heavier feel to it and it takes some time to digest. It is not a casual eff ...more
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was like no other non-fiction I have ever read. It read like any fiction book, with tons of plots and twists and always full of anticipation. I read this in 2 days while on vacation. I look forward to reading many more books from this author, starting with "Shadow Divers".

If you have any interest at all in what it took to put a man on the moon and the significance of the Kennedy era space race I cannot recommend a better book. This was a fantastic read.
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I give Kurson's latest book ***** because it's an important story and an exciting one and told in a very compelling way. The main part of the book focuses on the three astronauts who were the first to go to the Moon--not to land on it, but orbit it--and those were the three men of Apollo 8- Borman, Lovell, and Anders. Kurson gives us a succinct background to Apollo, which was the Cold War and Kennedy's commitment to send men to the moon by the end of the 1960s. What I did NOT know about Apollo ...more
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've had this book for awhile and I've been hesitant to crack it open because I thought it might be kind of dry. Thankfully, I didn't find that to be the case at all....not even for a single moment. This book covers the events that led up to Apollo 8 and its voyage in 1968. I also liked that this covered the people involved and that it included a little about their personal lives. I felt connected to them and their family struggles.

Overall, the science info was cohesive and easy to follow along
Back in 1968 again--way too many anniversaries of events this year, all re-visited in popular titles. I know there was another excellent, popular title about Apollo 8, but I missed that, and I like Kurson--Shadow Divers is one of my all time favorites. While the focus is on the mission, Kurson draws from politics and popular culture in setting the stage. Politicians and scientists were concerned that the Russians would beat us to the moon, so concerned that they pretty much forced NASA to abando ...more
Krisette Spangler
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This is one of the best books I've ever read. It was great, because I was on the edge of my seat even though I knew the astronauts were going to live. I loved the way the author wove the astronaut's personal lives into the story of our first flight to the moon. I learned so much, and I was impressed with the integrity of these great men. Highly recommend.
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
AMAZING!!! Go read this now!!!
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great story, well told.
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh wow, such an amazing story about a mission I'm ashamed to say I didn't really remember! Great perspective involving the wives and families of these three great men. Enough technical stuff to expose the wonder of the feat, but not too much. These guys had poise, patriotism, and gumption that our generation needs to bring back.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
John F. Kennedy had promised to put a man on the moon before the end of the 1960’s and after his assassination, Lyndon Johnson supported this unlikely goal. The USA had a tremendous desire to win the space race, however, and against all odds, Apollo 8 was conceived and implemented, some said too quickly. Astronauts Borman, Lovell, and Anders went on the historic Christmas 1968 mission to orbit the moon, and after a terrible year of riots, carnage in Vietnam, and assassinations of two beloved lea ...more
Casey Wheeler
I received a free Kindle copy of Rocket Men by Robert Kurson courtesy of Net Galley  and Random House, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my fiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus pages.

I requested this book as I have read a number of books on the space program. This is the second book devoted to Apollo 8 that I have read. It is the first book by Rober
Armando Negron
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rocket Men was a very appropriate book to read around this time with all the hype about the recent Space X launch. It has been a long time since the mainstream got so interested in a rocket launch, and reading about the Apollo missions brings back a sense of nostalgia from an era where nothing seemed impossible.

Robert Kurson does a marvelous job in putting together a story about the space program in a way that is not too technical for the layman, but brings enough details to learn quite a lot ab
Nenah Muniz
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm so thankful that I won the Goodreads giveaway for this book. I'm going to try to put into words what this book had made me feel. Rocket Men by Robert Kurson is truly a feel good book that the whole country (USA) needs to read. I've always been interested in NASA and space exploration but honestly I don't know nearly as much about it as I want to. We all know that the men of Apollo 11 were the first to step foot on the moon, and about the "successful failure" off Apollo 13, but what was Apoll ...more
Doreen Prentiss Gabriellini
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Rocket Men" by Robert Kurson takes his readers on a space journey with Apollo 8. This book is awesome! It tells a story rich in adventure, bravery, know how, determination and family. While Apollo 13 will be etched in our memory, the story of Apollo 8 captivated the nation and the entire world. It is the great story of America’s race to the moon.

Mr. Kurson takes us into NASA in 1968 when America was trying to compete in the ‘space race’ with the Soviets. The book provides a historical perspect
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing

I received a free copy of "Rocket Men" by Robert Kurson through the "Good Reads First Read Giveaway."

This is a concise history of the Apollo 8 mission. Even though you know it is successful, the author's talent keeps you wanting to continue reading this fascinating book. This book includes a detailed short history of the troubled America of the late 60's.

I particularly enjoyed the detailed stories of the personal lives of the Apollo Astronauts. These details made the main characters human. They
Dale Dewitt
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing read! When thinking about the achievements of the Apollo program one first thinks naturally about the first landing on Apollo 11 but Apollo 8 proved that Apollo 11 COULD be done and that is almost an even greater achievement. Kurson brings us along on humankind's greatest adventure and we get to know not only the 3 brave men who first sat atop the largest rocket humans have ever built but those in charge of the planning to make sure they came home safe. As we approach the 50th ...more
Jill Meyer
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Robert Kurson's excellent look at the 1968 voyage of Apollo 8, "Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8", has already received excellent reviews on Amazon, so I can add very little. However, I will say that the writing is low-key but compelling as Kurson writes about the politics, the people, and the history of the United States space program. He also details the race - what we knew was happening - between the US and the USSR. The Soviet launch of a moon rocket forced the United States to put ...more
First off I want to say which I love reading non fiction , this one was a struggle for me to get through, and I never hardly have that problem with non fiction, there was times I just wanted to put it down and not finish it at all but I kept reading to the very end. Unfortunately this book isn't for me at all , on the upscale it does show you want the astronauts went through as did their families, and how they struggle to get Apollo 8 to the moon , with that said I would like to think Netgalley ...more
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Robert Kurson goes in depth to Apollo 8, but also to the surrounding time of 1968.
It's a great companion piece to the Andrew Chaikin Apollo Book (Which needs to be placed on Kindle,by the way) as it is technical enough to not be overly basic on the side, but not so technical to overwhelm the casual reader on the flip side.
I enjoyed Kurson's work and would recommend it to Apollo, Space and even 1960's history buffs.
Mark Miano
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
On May 25, 1961, during a speech before a joint session of Congress, President John F. Kennedy issued one of the most audacious challenges in U.S history:

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to
Donna Hines
Home is where the heart is and for 3 astronauts the moon was more than just a mission.
Apollo 8 was a chance to put the USA in the forefront of an epic space race but at what cost, risking what safety, overriding what boundaries, challenging what beliefs?
What I loved about Rocket Men : The writing was strong, it was precise, it utilized quoted works but sadly it left some very historical people out.
Let me introduce to some heroes who helped get this entire NASA Space Race off the ground from behi
Mike Maurer
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This is a story about Apollo 8 and its place in American history. Why it was daring, crazy and pulled off with great success. Even those in the middle of it thought it might be a bad idea. But it worked.

The author distills down a huge amount of information into a narrative that flows. At times it had too much focus on the families on the ground, at least for me. While the tension and emotion of the families balances out the astronauts themselves, I wanted to get back to the flight itself. Also,
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Robert Kurson is an American author, best known for his bestselling book, "Shadow Divers," the true story of two Americans who discover a sunken World War II German U-boat and for "Crashing Through," the story of an entrepreneur who regains his eyesight after a lifetime of blindness.

Kurson began his career as an attorney, graduating from Harvard Law School and practicing real estate law. His profe