Book Review: Rocket Men

After hearing a podcast episode on the Art of Manliness with the author of Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon, I was intrigued about the Apollo 8 mission and added the book to my reading list. It wasn’t until close to Christmas when I knew I’d have some time to do a bit of reading that I decided to pick it up. At the time, I was in the mood for a good story, and was initially hoping to check out an eBook version from my local library, but all they had was a copy of the audiobook online, so I decided to download it for a listen over Christmas break.

An Incredibly Gripping Story

What an incredible story! I loved how Robert Kurson began the story with the countdown to launch, and then stepped back in time to set the stage for the Apollo program, eventually coming to the crisis that resulted in the daring plan that became the Apollo 8 mission. Throughout the build-up to the launch, the author devoted a special chapter to each of the three men aboard the spacecraft on Apollo 8: Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders. I really enjoyed these mini-biographies and was especially intrigued with the descriptions of each of their marriages. Kurson was careful to point out that each of the astronauts were the men they were because of their wives. Of course, the launch of Apollo 8 and the detailed retelling of each harrowing step of the mission kept me on edge the entire time and I really felt like I was listening to a novel instead of a history book. However, the most impactful part of the story to me was the description of Frank Borman’s commitment to his wife long after he had left NASA. That dedication to his marriage continues to this day, and that example really inspired me to put my wife and my family first as my most important mission.

Praise for the Audiobook

As a side note, listening to this book was a great choice; the narrator, Ray Porter, did an excellent job with the narration by adding personalized voices for each of the various characters, which I thought was an incredible and personal touch. Although this wasn’t my top book of the year, I highly recommend1 Rocket Men, especially the audiobook version.

  1. As a word of warning, there is some language in the book, mostly in the quotations from the various men during the difficult situations surrounding and during the mission.