Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth

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9780007155415: Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth

The Apollo Moon landings have been called the last optimistic act of the twentieth century. Twelve astronauts made this greatest of all journeys, and all were indelibly marked by it. In Moondust, journalist Andrew Smith reveals the stories of the nine still living men caught between the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Earth's collective dreaming: Here, we relive the flashbulbs, the first shocking glimpse of Earth from space, the sense of euphoria and awe. This was the first global media event, after all, and the astronauts were its superstars.

They had been schooled by NASA for every eventuality in deep space but were completely unprepared for fame. On their return, they struggled to balance notoriety with a spaceman's frugal paycheck. These perfect specimens of mind and body were, ultimately, only human beings thrust into an impossibly intense spotlight. Possibilities bloomed, and marriages crumbled under the strain.

And it wasn't just the astronauts who'd changed; the world was changing, too. As the Apollo program wound down, the wild and happy experimentations of the sixties gave way to the cynicism and self-doubt of the seventies, and the Moonwalkers faced what was, in some ways, their greatest challenge: how to find meaning in life when the biggest adventure you could possibly have was a memory. Some traded on past glories; others tried to move on. Some found God; some sought oblivion; some reinvented themselves and discovered a measure of happiness in a completely unexpected place. Andrew Smith sees them through the eyes of the boy who flung down his bike on a summer evening to hear Neil Armstrong utter his fateful words -- and through the eyes of a grown man balancing myth against reality and finding the truth infinitely richer and more moving.

A thrilling blend of history, reportage, and memoir, Moondust rekindles the hopeful excitement of an incandescent hour in American history and captures the bittersweet heroism of those who risked everything to hurl themselves out of the known world -- and who were never again quite able to accept its familiar bounds.

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About the Author:

Andrew Smith has worked as a critic and feature writer for the Sunday Times, the Guardian, The Observer, and The Face. He was born in the United States and lives in Norwich, England.

Review:

“Splendid!” (Arthur C. Clarke, author 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY)

“Moondust is an inspired idea, immaculately executed: witty, affectionate, completely captivating.” (WORD magazine)

“Highly entertaining...[Smith’s] superb book is a fitting tribute to a unique band of 20th-century heroes.” (GQ)

“Fascinating...We know what happened inside the Apollo, but what went on inside the astronauts’ minds? Extremely thought-provoking.” (J. G. Ballard, author of Empire of the Sun and Memories of the Space Age)

“[A] fascinating book... [Smith’s] humour is underpinned by a sense of extreme danger.” (Mail on Sunday, Book of the Week (four stars))

“A rich mix of cultural history, reportage and personal reflection.” (Evening Standard)

“Forget flower power, the Beatles and Beach Boys...what made the 1960s an unforgettable decade was the conquest of space.” (The Guardian, Best Books of the Season)

“A crisply dramatic account.” (Sunday Telegraph)

“An extraordinary book...as profoundly as any work of philosophy.” (Uncut (UK), four stars)

“A wonderful collective biography written with deftness, compassion and humour.” (The Observer)

‘Utterly gripping. Smith is both sympathetic and bracingly unsentimental.” (Daily Mail (London))

‘Enthralling...Smith is an ideal narrator: sharp-eyed yet increasingly affectionate about his subjects.” (Financial Times)

“Riveting...so vivid you can almost smell the suburban lawns.” (Time Out London)

“Spellbinding...a provocative meditation on lunar travel and humanity’s relation to space.” (Business Week)

“A wild ride swerving between then and now.” (Richmond Times Dispatch)

“Smith’s book succeeds...because he bungee-cords together so many intriguing digressions.” (New York Times)

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