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First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  2,373 ratings  ·  269 reviews
Soon to be a major motion picture, this is the first—and only—definitive authorized account of Neil Armstrong, the man whose “one small step” changed history.

When Apollo 11 touched down on the Moon’s surface in 1969, the first man on the Moon became a legend. In First Man, author James R. Hansen explores the life of Neil Armstrong. Based on over fifty hours of interviews w
Paperback, 464 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Simon Schuster (first published June 27th 2005)
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,373 ratings  ·  269 reviews

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Dec 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sciences
What gall we must have to ask a child what he would be when he grows up! Here he is, tearing along in the delirious hallucination of childhood and we would already have him fill out the box, sign on the line, put the cube in the square hole; we would confront him with this terrible hunt for purpose and significance in the material, have him genuflect before the idol of maturity in activity, the sequestration of occupation in industry!

But when I was a kid that question -- of the many on old folks
Three hundred pages of story lost among four hundred pages of gossip and trivia. Tells Neil's story in excruciating detail, including multiple tellings of false tales--each of which is detailed then rebutted.

Too bad because Neils' story is a good one, and the portions on what Neil was actually doing were good.

Better than Sominex.
Durch Zufall bin ich auf diese "autorisierte Biografie" über Neil Armstrong gestoßen, ohne dass ich vorher wußte, dass dieses Buch verfilmt wurde und im Novemer 2018 in Deutschland in die Kinos kommen sollte. Da ich als Raumfahrt-Fan bisher immer auf die unautorisierten Biografien eines meines Jugend-Helden zurückgreifen musste und wusste, dass Armstrong sehr, sehr sparsam mit Äußerungen über seine Person und die Einschätzungen über Gott und die Welt war, habe ich sofort und ohne lange zu überle ...more
George Bradford
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apollo, heroes, america
It's difficult to believe there has ever been a more accomplished human being who was more modest than Neil Armstrong.

On July 20, 1969, Neil A. Armstrong became the first human to step on the surface of a world beyond our Earth. He was 38 years old.

Armstrong landed on the lunar surface as perhaps the premier aviator of his generation. He'd been flying for 22 years (having earned his pilot's license as a teenager before being old enough to apply for a driver's license). His aviation achievement
Nov 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Това, което се крие под мита "Първият човек" се оказа много по-интересно от самия мит.
За съжаление беше написано... не достатъчно добре. Но заради интересността на самите факти, си струва да се прочете.
Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: geek_non_fiction
Viel Pathos und Technikkram...
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neil Armstrong proofread this bio about him which led to some interesting perspectives and gave real insight to his story. The Life magazine picture about his wife, Janet Armstrong praying during Neil's moon launch was hilariously revealed that she was actually kneeling to hear the radio better !!
While the positives about Neil proofread had its advantages the disadvantage was the author took hero worship of Neil to ridiculous heights and the book should have been named First Man (on the Moon) to
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has been an amazing audiobook experience, far better than anticipated. For one thing, the author's portrayal of Armstrong is hardly a hagiography, which was a relief. His many virtues were dutifully reported, but I was amazed at how critical the narrative was of certain highly personal episodes and Armstrong's reactions to them, such as the death of his daughter Karen. But what made the experience much more memorable for me was the seamless integration of actual recordings of the historic c ...more
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wow, it was long and pretty slow in places. The chapters on the moon landing were fascinating! I was 5 years old at the time, and while I distinctly remember someone showing me the moon and telling me men were there, I had little other knowledge of the event. There are lots of details on Armstrong's life before becoming an astronaut, and only a few spare chapters on his life after leaving NASA. Interesting read but not exactly an enjoyable one.
James R. Hansen's 'First Man' throws down the gauntlet, striving to be the definitive biography on Neil Armstrong, the first man ever to walk on the moon.

It is impressively researched, but Hansen spends much of the book showing off what he learned. As a result, we have to wade through lots of minutiae. Much of the extraneous data should have been dumped into the appendices instead. To me, it was as dry as a college textbook.

It's a book that's more about Armstrong's career than his personal life,
Daniel Villines
Nov 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
25AUG12: A truly amazing man that has embarked on his final journey through history. Knowing that he was still alive cast a shining light on humanity's potential. Now that he's gone, it's up to humanity to recognize the hope that he has left behind.


As a three-year-old son of a typical nuclear family in 1969, I was awoken from my sleep, placed beside our TV, and photographed next to Neil Armstrong stepping on to the moon. Through all these years, Neil Armstrong remained a hero that was codifie
Don Alesi
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to have given this book an extra 1/2 star if possible. At almost 600 pages, I wondered if I could get through the book and not consatntly falll asleep. I was pleasantly surprised. Neil Armstrong was as a very private person. The authorised biography of the man who in my oppion was the Charles Lindbergh of the sixties was not as private as he was just careful with words and who he chose to deal with.
The most interesting thing about the book is that Neil himself will confirm, deny, o
John Kaess
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Get the audio CD's, it has actual audio and video from the missions. This is beyond fantastic. A must listen to for anyone the least bit interested in the astronauts and/or the Apollo missions.
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This outstanding and incredibly detailed book follows the arc of Neil Armstrong’s singular life from his ancestry to his twilight years. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including, of course, NASA materials, newspapers, and magazines, but also interviews with family, friends, and colleagues and Neil himself, Dr Hansen constructs a faithful portrait of the first man to walk on the Moon. As Hansen notes, much of Neil’s life after 1969 was affected by this achievement of “first”, which Neil has ...more
Bradley Pennington
Good, Not Great.

I’ve been a space geek since I was a little kid, and I am an avid reader of biographies, and was thus very excited to see an authorized biography of Mr. Armstrong released several years ago. However, after finally getting a chance to read it, I found the book lackluster at best.

I must give Mr. Hansen credit on his research, as it is unbelievably meticulous and thorough, though often to a fault. I don’t believe that the general reader cares much as to the differing heart rates of
Mary Elizabeth Dial
In the interest of honesty, I should probably say that I would never have picked up First Man in a bookstore. If I hadn't been lucky enough to choose an undergrad honors seminar more or less at random and end up in Dr. Hansen's Astronaut as Icon class, I probably would never have thought about NASA for longer than a minute. And now my friends wish I would just shut up about Neil Armstrong already.

Yes, this biography is long and intimidating, but it's also straight-up incredible. Very few authors
Христо Блажев
Една малка стъпка за човека…:

“Първият човек. Животът на Нийл Армстронг” на Джеймс Хенсън има една светла и една тъмна страна, точно както мислим за Луната (не че това е вярно). Светлата е подробното описание на програмата “Аполо”, на впрягането на една нация в стремеж към една обща и величава цел – и постигането ѝ, с всички интересни подробности и ключови моменти, които е можело да превърнат американския триумф в трагедия. Тъмната е… ами самият Армстронг,
Rosa Chacón García
He disfrutado muchísimo el libro, me ha encantado sobre todo hasta cuando vuelven de la luna. Me ha encantado ver cómo fue el proceso y al ser por escrito lo tengo mucho más claro que cuando me puesto a buscar las imágenes de televisión de aquella época.
Me ha encantado que nos cuente cómo era el astronauta como persona, con sus claroscuros, un ser humano extraordinario pero humano al fin y al cabo.
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Наистина, малко са хората като него, постигнали толкова много през живота си, които същевременно са и толкова скромни и човечни. Нийл Армстронг е бил истински герой на времето си още преди да се превърне в първото човешко същество, разходило се на повърхността на друга планета - бойни мисии в Корейската война, множество изпитателни полети на експериментални самолети, пилот на първото космическо скачване в програмата "Джемини". Успехът никога не го главозамайва и никога не променя тихия му характ ...more
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I almost gave up on this book. The book is bogged down with the most minor details. Who would think that the moon landing could be boring? I can - when we read over and over again about the various test flights that didn't actually amount to any significant happening except that Neil did a test flight on x date. The author actually goes through a list of Armstrong's ancestors. It felt like reading the bible "and so and so begat so and so who begat so and so.." Seriously? The book was also bogged
Nov 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Such a big book with so many details about a man’s life, and yet nothing about his feelings, his personality, his beliefs, his relations with children, wives, relatives, friends! I can understand that Armstrong wasn’t willing to expose his inner self. But biography should be something more interesting than a over-detailed but shallow reference to a forty year career with a moment of glory. Very boring unless you are a man of aircraft science or space travels procedures!
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly exceptional man and such a vivid telling of his life and shed some light on what the first man on the moon was like. A beautiful narrative. Would highly recommend! Bring me all the space books!
P.S. Winn
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author captures not only the man many calla hero, but also delves into the real life story of the man behind the astronaut suit. If you are interested in not only Neil Armstrong, but a look back at history, grab this one.
Jose A Miranda
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was interesting, but a bit dry and overly detailed, especially the pre-astronaut era.
Selena Soutter
Exhaustively researched; exhausting to read.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ψυχρό και πλήρες σαν γραμμένο από τεχνητή νοημοσύνη.
Amanto Moura
Não tenho muito o que falar, esperei uma coisa e foi outra.


*** mais detalhes no blog
Norm Hurst
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven’t yet fully processed the entirety of this book. But my initial thoughts are “holy cow” “what a guy” and “all of these folks were absolutely insane”.
Scott Ross
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very comprehensive biography of Armstrong. I enjoyed the Apollo 11 mission section the most but the Korean War coverage and post NASA life of Armstrong was equally compelling.
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James R. Hansen is a professor of history at Auburn University in Alabama.His book From the Ground Up won the History Book Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1988. For his work, The Wind and Beyond (NASA) - (six-volume series), he was awarded the Eugene Ferguson Prize for Outstanding Reference Work by the Society for the History of Technology in 2005.

“quoted his commencement address at Ohio State University in June 1971: “My enthusiasm for the future of space travel, I think you’ll grant is understandable. To stand on the surface of the Moon and look at the Earth high overhead leaves an impression not easily forgotten. Although our blue planet is very beautiful, it is very remote and apparently very small. You might suspect in such a situation, the observer might dismiss the Earth as relatively unimportant. “However, exactly the opposite conclusion has been reached by each of the individuals who has had the opportunity to share that view. We have all been struck by the similarity to an oasis or island. More importantly, it is the only island that we know is a suitable home for man.” 0 likes
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