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First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong Hardcover – October 18, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 439 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. On July 20, 1969, a quiet, determined man from Wapakoneta, Ohio, stepped out of his fragile spacecraft and into history. Neil Armstrong--engineer, naval aviator, test pilot, astronaut and devoted family man--became the first man to walk on the moon. In this powerful, unrelenting biography of a man of no particularly spectacular talent yet who stands as a living testimony to everyday grit and determination, former NASA historian Hansen has achieved something quite remarkable. Like a rich pointillist painting, he has created a magnificent panorama of the second half of the American 20th century by assembling a multitude of luminescent moments in one man's life. From Armstrong's birth to a middle-class family in Ohio to the mind-boggling fame of the Apollo 11 triumph, and later his service on the commission investigating the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster, Hansen details it all. He writes of the number of rounds of 20-millimeter ammunition loosed by Armstrong's fighter squadron in Korea in October 1951 (49,299), his heart rate on liftoff in Gemini VIII (146 beats per minute) and the price of a signed Armstrong letter at auction ($2,500). Rather than overwhelming, this accumulation of details gives flesh-and-blood reality to a man who is more icon than human. With the recent renewal of interest in manned space travel, this book is a must for astronaut buffs and history readers alike.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

For the first time, the cool, precise, and c-elebrity-averse Neil Armstrong has authorized a biography. Its readers cannot expect any more access to his emotional interior than the first man to walk on the moon has ever allowed, but they will learn about everything he achieved in aerospace engineering. Deflecting aerospace historian Hansen's inquiries about personal crises, such as the death of an infant daughter or his divorce, Armstrong proves disarmingly more voluble about his involvement with airplanes and spacecraft. Quelling apocrypha circulated at the time of Apollo 11 about the all-American boy who dreamed of going to the moon, Hansen follows the empirical arc of Armstrong's interest in aviation, his engineering studies at Purdue University, and his qualification as an aircraft-carrier pilot. After the Korean War, Armstrong resumed his engineering career, wrote technical papers, flew hotshot planes like the X-15, and stepped irrevocably into history with Apollo 11. Dramatizing the mission in meticulous detail, Hansen capably captures both Armstrong's expertise and his Garbo-like demurral of fame. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
439 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on July 28, 2014
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Reviewed in the United States on December 1, 2018
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Top international reviews

Kindle Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks sparkle
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 6, 2019
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Denno
4.0 out of 5 stars Choose wisely
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 19, 2019
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John Hopper
5.0 out of 5 stars very good biography, albeit slightly dry in places
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 11, 2019
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Mr. John B. Franklin
1.0 out of 5 stars Should have been a fascinating read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 12, 2018
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Dizzywizzy
3.0 out of 5 stars Very dry reading.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 14, 2019
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The Bookworm
3.0 out of 5 stars VERY DETAILED, VERY TECHNICAL
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 14, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 29, 2018
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Peter L.
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 3, 2018
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Mick P
3.0 out of 5 stars He must have been a rather dull person
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 14, 2020
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Richard P.
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of detail but of course you get not that ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 3, 2016
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K. D. Booles
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 29, 2018
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Lisa
5.0 out of 5 stars Delighted
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 9, 2014
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wizzybeans13
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 12, 2020
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katy
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 26, 2019
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carla willson
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 11, 2019
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