Originally published on Goodreads
Moon Shot by Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton is their tale on the history of NASA, themselves and the race to the Moon. This book is really great in the story told about NASA. All from the humble beginnings, how JFK pumped in more money to the Moon landing and the end of the Apollo program. Some of the most interesting content I found was about the analysis of the political situation when JFK needed something to boost his popularity and put forth the mission to land a person on the Moon within the decade, the description of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs and the detailed descriptions of most of the missions and the milestones set in order to reach the Moon. What I found lacking was the actual Moon missions themselves. The book builds up the race and the payoff simply isn’t there. The Apollo 11 mission is absolutely amazing to read about, 13 is described well due to being some of the best problem solving ever done in NASA under incredible stress, 14 is described in incredible detail because it’s Alan Shepard’s Moon mission and the rest of the actual Moon missions are simply glossed over. Another aspect that annoyed me a bit is the focus on Shepard and Slayton. While Shepard’s story is remarkable and Slayton has been instrumental for NASA, it just reads out as Shepard and Slayton bragging a lot. Both because anything involving the two is takes up 2-3 chapters but also because it seems like all the other astronauts who paved the road to the Moon, who landed on the Moon and cosmonauts doing just as admirable achievements are completely relegated to the background while Shepard, Slayton and the rest of the Mercury Seven are held up as the original heroes. I understand that they could only write about what they knew the best but it feels disrespectful to the others to give so much real estate to the Mercury Seven when the book is supposed to be about the entire NASA history up till the end of the Apollo program. Lastly the last chapter also shouldn’t have been included. The chapter is about the future of NASA and America’s lack of enthusiasm in space. More specifically they lament the recent (Obama administration) cuts to NASA. This chapter just feels very much out of place. I don’t quite understand why it’s been added as it tarnishes the rest of the book.
I would still recommend it but I will be seeking out more books that can cover the intimate details of the Apollo programs, what the Moon landings discovered and NASA’s later history. It is however great for describing the early days and there probably won’t be any other book as good on the Mercury missions.
3 out of 5 stars.