Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review - Moon Shot

Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Apollo Moon Landings by Jay Barbree, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton.

I got an advance copy via NetGalley.

I've always loved the stories of how America made it to the moon, and I wanted to love this book. But it is fatally flawed. The whole first half reads more like a jock bragging about his exploits than an inside history of one of the greatest technological achievements of mankind. Perhaps the flaw is actually in the men who lived that history, but this book makes them into unlikable hotshots. The second half covers the events, but jumps through major events to get to some of the less significant ones.

From a sheer historical perspective, the book does deliver on some of its promise. The timeline of events is clear enough, the little anecdotes sometimes add but often detract from the narrative. The made-up conversations are enough to make you want to throw the thing across the room. It's a loose and wild book. If you like reading about astronaut antics in a strange half-PR style, this book is for you. If you just want information and facts, go somewhere else.

The book tends to focus on the two astronauts that are listed as co-authors. While that's not a bad thing because they were both heavily involved in the space program until the end of Apollo, it also seems to dismiss some of the other accomplishments or at least gloss over them. Don't get me wrong, they are mentioned, talked about, given space. But, for example, leading up to Apollo 13 the focus of the book is on Deke and Alan's medical issues and Alan being on the next mission, rather than the men of Apollo 13. I can understand why, but that makes this less a book about the trip to the moon than a book about Alan and Deke's involvement in the lunar program.

I really wanted to love this book. It isn't a bad read, but it's not good enough for me to call it great.