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Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  984 ratings  ·  169 reviews
For the 50th anniversary, the epic story of Apollo 11 and the astronauts, flight controllers, and engineers who made it happen, by the author of the bestselling A Terrible Glory and The Blood of Heroes.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon, a moment forever ingrained in history. Perhaps the world's greatest technologic
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published March 12th 2019 by Little, Brown and Company (first published March 11th 2019)
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Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nasa
2.5 Stars.
I'm that person who devours any book written about the space program. When I saw this, I had to have it.

You would think that a book published for Apollo 11's 50th anniversary with the "Apollo 11" in the title would focus more on that mission. Surprisingly, this book did not. I wouldn't say the part of the book about the space race leading up to Apollo 11 wasn't bad - but it has been done before. I can think of dozens of books written about the space race. I don't really feel that this
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a thrilling book! Even though I knew the outcome from the beginning, having lived the early space years as a youth, I could not put this book down, making up excuses to drive my car so I could listen to the next chapter. Donovan details the history of the race to the moon, including a lot of material that has come to light in the years since, especially about the Soviet space efforts. He chronicles the selection of the astronauts and the factors that affected the selection of the men and cr ...more
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book is just about Apollo 11. However, this book is more informative. It details the American space program from the very beginning, culminating in Apollo 11 and the moon landing. I learned a lot, like Lyndon Johnson's big role in encouraging the space program's birth. Learned that politics played a very big role too - if not for the Soviet's push for space exploration and subsequent glory, the Americans probably would not even entertain a space program. There's also a lot of scie ...more
Porter Broyles
(Audio book)

This was a fun book to listen to. I do not consider myself to be overly knowledgable about the space race, but this was not my first foray into that subject.

The book is well written and definitely kept my attention. The first 2/3rds of the book is a general high level overview of the space race from the American perspective. The last 1/3rd of the book was about Apollo 11.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was informative, entertaining, and well-written.
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I enjoyed reading this but had thought most of it would be about Apollo 11 and it really wasn't. I did like the part about the Gemini missions as they often get overlooked in books about the space race. ...more
LAPL Reads
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
James Donovan’s Shoot For The Moon is the first book about America’s triumphant moon landing in 1969 that puts the feat in its proper context. Donovan balances a technical analysis of space flight with gripping biographical details about the major players involved in the three NASA programs of the 1960s: Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy gave a speech before Congress exhorting America to send a man to the moon by end of the decade. The date was less than three weeks ...more
Curt Evoy
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read documenting the history of manned space flight from the beginning through the Apollo 11 moon landing.

The book covers many facets of the successful mission to land man on the moon. The author covers the Astronauts and the support team in Houston who supported their efforts.
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good historic look at the space race, I might even have it on my re-read list. That being said, I still loved First Man a bit more
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm a sucker for most anything about the 1960's NASA missions, and therefore easily lured in by this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not too technical, and sprinkled with plenty of great anecdotes.
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the astronaut selection process and tensions between mission control and astronauts particularly interesting
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This detailed and extraordinary book depicts the triumphs and setbacks during the cold war. The book was extremely riveting and kept you entertained until the end. The highly detailed recount of Apollo 11 was the highlight of the book. It opens your eyes to one of the greatest accomplishments that mankind has ever achieved. Overall, this was a very informative and engaging book which I would recommended to anybody with an interest in space or mankind's achievements. ...more
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-books
I have read several books on the early days of the space travel and I am almost always exited by the history. This is more of an overview of the missions and people leading up to the moon landing. This is well researched and has interesting andecdotes. While not the most riveting of accounts, I still found this a great overview of the beginning of NASA and the early excitement surrounding the space program. I received a digital ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Highly recommend the audio version of this one. Even though I knew most of the history, still kept me on the edge of my seat listening to the narrative.
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The moon landing occurred a decade before I was born, so I appreciated learning all the details of the mission and everything involving the American space program that preceded it in this comprehensive book. From the beginning of the Space Race, the ultimate objective was to beat the Russians in space “firsts.” Initially, the Russians dominated, and they were quick to flaunt their successes, but would keep their failures secret from the world for years. The determination and ingenuity of NASA an ...more
Bob Kuster
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fifty years later, the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space program remain as interesting as ever. Even though we know how the story ends, James Donovan makes us sweat through some very tense moments.
Jeffrey Williams
I have previously read numerous books about the space race and Apollo 11. At first, this book appeared to be one of those that rehashed everything that I had learned previously with no new information or insights. However, James Donovan really did his homework and gave key insights to the men of Apollo 11, including the technicians and flight controllers (not just the astronauts), which took me by surprise. Additionally, he put together a seamless narrative from Operation Paperclip through Apoll ...more
Stephanie Hall
This is clearly a well-researched book, full of fun little facts about NASA, the men behind mission control, and the astronauts, all to celebrate the fact that we are coming up to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. I think a book like this, which covers so much ground, can easily fall into the trap of being too science-heavy and therefore unapproachable or boring by readers who aren't familiar with terminology. However, I think Donovan did an excellent job making this accessible for all r ...more
Robert Sparrenberger
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you wanted to read just one book on the space race through the Apollo 11 moon landing, this is your book. It’s well written with good pace and not too technical to bore some readers.

A couple of quick comments in response to some of the reviews.

1. The subtitle does say the space race and Apollo
11. This is not just a book about the Apollo 11 moon landing. It’s everything leading up to that just as it states on the cover.

2. This sort of book has been written before. I’m Sure they are good too
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was good, but I'm not sure it's better than Chaiken's A Man on the Moon or Wolfe's The Right Stuff, honestly. It's not covering new ground, I don't think. A Man on the Moon might still be the definitive book.

But I'll read almost anything about the space race, and this fit the bill.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very well written. Fascinating insights. For example did you know that little old ladies knitting were instrumental to putting men on the moon? It was little insights like this that made this such a fascinating read. I definitely recommend.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11 by James Donovan is a truly riveting book. I read it out loud to one of my sisters and we were both pretty glued to it. We read it over the space (no pun intended) of about three or four days. We have never really read a book about the race to space and this book was a good introduction to it all.

As the title implies, it details the space race between the Russians and Americans to get someone into space, and on the moon
Michelle Mallette
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
See my full review here.
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the historic landing of humans on the moon, we are seeing books, films and lots of other attention to that amazing scientific feat. But Apollo 11 happened as the result of all the work before it. None of us accomplishes a damn thing on this earth without the help of others, and this book emphasizes that in spades. Donovan's research is meticulous and exhaustive, examining the science, the politics, and the people behind the entire sp
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Donovan provided what I had been waiting for all these years, a comprehensive history of the space race; at least, as much as could be encompassed in a book for the general public.
In waiting as he did, much information has been released about the Russian efforts. Truly amazing to me, given how hobbled they were by the political and monetary problems surrounding their program. And with only one man coordinating all! As if we had only von Braun, instead of all the talented technicians and administ
Stephen Dick
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love reading books and watching documentaries on the early years of NASA (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs). When I saw that Michael Collins (command module pilot of Apollo 11) said that this was the best book written on Apollo, it told me that I would not be wasting my time reading this book. I was correct.

Overall, this is a well-written and balanced book. Even with having considerable amount of knowledge on this period, there was still an abundance of items that I learned. If you are a NA
Eric Sullenberger
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a descently thorough review of the early manned space program up through the Apollo 11 mission. It is a little scant on details post-moonwalk/EVA. This book also does an OK job of spotlighting people other than the astronauts themselves. Usually, when a new player is introduced background is given and then that person is included from there on. The major exception to this, which was a little odd (and might be disorienting for anyone not familiar with Apollo history), was of individu ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I learned as I read this book that I pretty much knew nothing about the space race or NASA or the flight to the moon. I was nominally familiar with a few small bits and pieces of it --Sputnik started it all, von Braun was the guy that built rockets, JFK gave a speech with a deadline, and Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon on July 20th, 1969--but that was about it. So not only did I learn a lot from this book, but I liked how it provided the context and the process for getting to the moon. I also ...more
Tara van Beurden
The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing last year was probably not as heralded as much as I would have liked, but it did result in the publication of a number of Apollo related books, this being one of them. This was another space book for my PHD research that my parents bought for me for my birthday. It's a very readable account of the selection of the Mercury 7, the Mercury program, the Gemini program, and finally the Apollo program up to landing on the Moon. I am very familiar with much ...more
Patrick DiJusto
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Let's face it, you know what it's like with me and books about the Apollo space program. I love them all, and I'm also super critical of them all. That's just the way it is.

This Book is no different. Clearly written to capitalize on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, this book takes a look at the entire American Space Program from before the beginning to just after the Apollo 11 crew return to Earth safely. Clearly, it was written for people who didn't know much about the Apollo
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Having grown up in the Sixties, I was an eager follower of any and all coverage of the space race, and since then I have read every book I could find to relive those days. So I was delighted when I was selected as one of the winners of this giveaway.

This book is an excellent overview of the U. S. manned space program from Mercury through Apollo 11. For those just starting to learn about this amazing effort, it is a great starting point. Sadly, as time goes on, there are fewer and fewer of us who
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James Donovan is the author of the bestselling books The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo–and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation and A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn-the Last Great Battle of the American West. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

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