First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong

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Simon and Schuster, Nov 27, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 784 pages
Marking the forty-fifth anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing, First Man by James Hansen offers the only authorized glimpse into the life of America’s most famous astronaut, Neil Armstrong—the man whose “one small step” changed history.

“The Eagle has landed.”

When Apollo 11 touched down on the moon’s surface in 1969, the first man on the moon became a legend. In First Man, Hansen explores the life of Neil Armstrong. Based on over fifty hours of interviews with the intensely private Armstrong, who also gave Hansen exclusive access to private documents and family sources, this “magnificent panorama of the second half of the American twentieth century” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) is an unparalleled biography of an American icon.

Upon his return to earth, Armstrong was honored and celebrated for his monumental achievement. He was also—as James R. Hansen reveals in this fascinating and important biography—misunderstood. Armstrong’s accomplishments as engineer, test pilot, and astronaut have long been a matter of record, but Hansen’s unprecedented access to private documents and unpublished sources and his interviews with more than 125 subjects (including more than fifty hours with Armstrong himself) yield this first in-depth analysis of an elusive American celebrity still renowned the world over.

In a riveting narrative filled with revelations, Hansen vividly recreates Armstrong’s career in flying, from his seventy-eight combat missions as a naval aviator flying over North Korea to his formative transatmospheric flights in the rocket-powered X-15 to his piloting Gemini VIII to the first-ever docking in space. These milestones made it seem, as Armstrong’s mother Viola memorably put it, “as if from the very moment he was born—farther back still—that our son was somehow destined for the Apollo 11 mission.”

For a pilot who cared more about flying to the Moon than he did about walking on it, Hansen asserts, Armstrong’s storied vocation exacted a dear personal toll, paid in kind by his wife and children. For the forty-five years since the Moon landing, rumors have swirled around Armstrong concerning his dreams of space travel, his religious beliefs, and his private life.

In a penetrating exploration of American hero worship, Hansen addresses the complex legacy of the First Man, as an astronaut and as an individual. In First Man, the personal, technological, epic, and iconic blend to form the portrait of a great but reluctant hero who will forever be known as history’s most famous space traveler.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jfe16 - www.librarything.com

A comprehensive biography of the first man to step onto the lunar surface on 20 July 1969. Hansen’s interviews with the astronaut’s family and key participants as well as his studies of flight logs ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

As the authorized biography of Neil Armstrong, this book has the usual faults and virtues of such an exercise. On one hand, due to access to private materials, significant myths are debunked about the ... Read full review

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Contents

The Launch
1
AN AMERICAN GENESIS
11
The Strong ofArm
13
The Strong of Spirit
20
TRANQUILITY BASE
27
First Child
29
The Virtues ofSmallville
36
Truth in theAir
43
In Linefor Command CHAPTER 19 Gemini VIII
242
The Astronauts Wife
275
ForAll America
292
APOLLO
301
Out oftheAshes
303
Wingless on Luna
314
Amiable Strangers
335
First Out
360

Aeronautical Engineering 101
53
WINGS OF GOLD
65
Class 549
67
Fighter Squadron 51
79
Fate Is the Hunter
88
The Ordeal ofEagles
101
THE REAL RIGHT STUFF
115
The Research Pilot
117
Above the High Desert
123
At the Edge ofSpace
141
The WorstLoss
160
HigherResolve
168
Ive Gota Secret
199
NO MAN IS AN ISLAND
215
Training Days 217
217
Dialectics of a Moon Mission
374
ONE GIANT LEAP
403
Outward Bound
405
The Landing
441
One Small Step
476
Return to Earth
529
ForAll Mankind
564
DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
585
Standing Ground
587
To Engineer Is Human
602
Acknowledgments
649
Notes
655
Bibliography
719
Index
739
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About the author (2012)

James R. Hansen is a professor emeritus of history at Auburn University. A former historian for NASA, Hansen is the author of twelve books on the history of aerospace and a two-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize in History. His 1995 book Spaceflight Revolution was nominated for the Pulitzer by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the only time NASA ever nominated a book for the prize. He serves as coproducer for the upcoming major motion picture First Man, which is based on his New York Times bestselling biography of Neil Armstrong. Hansen lives in Auburn, Alabama.

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