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About James R. Hansen
His prizewinning book, FIRST MAN (Simon & Schuster, 2005, 2012), the first and only authorized biography of Neil Armstrong, spent three weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list and garnered major book awards, including the American Astronautical Society's Prize for Astronautical Literature, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' Outstanding Book Award, and CHOICE magazine's Outstanding Academic Book of 2006. A two-volume Japanese translation of FIRST MAN has been published, with translations into Chinese, Turkish, Croatian, and Bulgarian in progress.
His newest book is A DIFFICULT PAR: ROBERT TRENT JONES SR. AND THE MAKING OF MODERN GOLF (Gotham Penguin, 2014). The book was awarded the Herbert Warren Wind Award by the United States Golf Association as the best golf book of the year. An internationally known expert on the history of golf architecture, Hansen has published numerous articles on the subject in golf magazines and given scholarly and public presentations on the history of golf course architecture in the United States, Canada, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and England. For the past 17 years he has been a golf course rater for Golfweek. An avid golfer since youth, Jim played college golf and was co-captain of his team for two years.
Hansen will continue writing both about golf and aerospace history. In 1995 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration nominated his book SPACEFLIGHT REVOLUTION for a Pulitzer Prize, the only time NASA has ever made such a nomination. His book FROM THE GROUND UP(1988) won the History Book Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. His scholarship has also been honored with the Robert H. Goddard Award from the National Space Club and certificates of distinction from the Air Force Historical Foundation. His other recent books, THE BIRD IS ON THE WING(Texas A&M University Press) and THE WIND AND BEYOND (NASA) explore the role of aerodynamics in the progress of the airplane in America. The latter is a six-volume series prepared by Hansen and a team of his graduate students for NASA, volume three of which is due to appear in 2014. In 2005 THE WIND AND BEYOND won the Society for the History of Technology's Eugene Ferguson Prize for Outstanding Reference Work. His newest book, TRUTH, LIES, AND O-RINGS: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE SPACE SHUTTLE CHALLENGER DISASTER was published in May 2009 by the University Press of Florida, with co-author Allan J. McDonald.
A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, he graduated summa cum laude and with Honors from Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne. He earned his Ph.D. at The Ohio State University in 1981. Jim has taught history at Auburn University since 1986. Both his teaching and his scholarship have received numerous awards from the university including the Teaching Excellence Award in the Humanities, an Alumni Professorship, the Outstanding Teacher in the Core Curriculum, and the Office of the Vice President for Research's Creative Research Award. In 2005, he was inducted into the College of Liberal Arts' Academy of Teaching and Outstanding Scholars. He is Auburn's nominee for U.S. Professor of the Year for 2015.
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“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.
On a cold January morning in 1986, NASA launched the Space Shuttle Challenger, despite warnings against doing so by many individuals, including Allan McDonald. The fiery destruction of Challenger on live television moments after launch remains an indelible image in the nation’s collective memory.
In Truth, Lies, and O-Rings, McDonald, a skilled engineer and executive, relives the tragedy from where he stood at Launch Control Center. As he fought to draw attention to the real reasons behind the disaster, he was the only one targeted for retribution by both NASA and his employer, Morton Thiokol, Inc., makers of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters. In this whistle-blowing yet rigorous and fair-minded book, McDonald, with the assistance of internationally distinguished aerospace historian James R. Hansen, addresses all of the factors that led to the accident, some of which were never included in NASA's Failure Team report submitted to the Presidential Commission.
Truth, Lies, and O-Rings is the first look at the Challenger tragedy and its aftermath from someone who was on the inside, recognized the potential disaster, and tried to prevent it. It also addresses the early warnings of very severe debris issues from the first two post-Challenger flights, which ultimately resulted in the loss of Columbia some fifteen years later.
Hansen provides an engaging, easily understandable introduction to the role of aerodynamics in the design of such historic American aircraft as the DC-3, X-1, and 747. Recognizing the impact individuals have had on the development of the field, he conveys not only a history of aircraft technology, but also a collective biography of the scientists, engineers, and designers who created the airplanes.
From da Vinci, whose understanding of what it took to fly was three centuries too early for practical use, to the invention of the airplane by the Wright brothers, Hansen explores the technological matrix from which aeronautical engineering emerged. He skillfully guides the reader through the development of such critical aerodynamic concepts as streamlining, flutter, laminar-flow airfoils, the mythical “sound barrier,” variable-sweep wing, supersonic cruise, blended body, and much more.
Hansen’s explanation of how vocabulary and specifications were developed to fill the gap between the perceptions of pilots and the system of engineers will fascinate all those interested in how human beings have used aerodynamics to move among, and even beyond, birds on the wing.
Artfully curated by James R. Hansen, A Reluctant Icon: Letters to Neil Armstrong is a companion volume to Dear Neil Armstrong: Letters to the First Man from All Mankind, collecting hundreds more letters Armstrong received after first stepping on the moon until his death in 2012. Providing context and commentary, Hansen has assembled the letters by the following themes: religion and belief; anger, disappointment, and disillusionment; quacks, conspiracy theorists, and ufologists; fellow astronauts and the world of flight; the corporate world; celebrities, stars, and notables; and last messages.
Taken together, both collections provide fascinating insights into the world of an iconic hero who took that first giant leap onto lunar soil willingly and thereby stepped into the public eye with reluctance. Space enthusiasts, historians, and lovers of all things related to flight will not want to miss this book.
Robert Trent Jones was the most prolific and influential golf course architect of the twentieth century and became the archetypical modern golf course designer. Jones spread the gospel of golf by designing courses in forty-two US states and twenty-eight countries. Twenty U.S. Opens, America’s national championship, have been contested on Jones-designed courses.
New York Times bestselling biographer James R. Hansen, author of First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, recounts how an English immigrant boy arrived in upstate New York in 1912, just as golf was emerging as a popular pastime in America. Jones excelled as a golfer, earning admission to Cornell University, whose faculty consented to a curriculum tailored to teach him the knowledge needed to design golf courses. Cornell provided the springboard for an act of self-invention that propelled Jones from obscurity to worldwide fame.
Jones believed that every hole should be “a difficult par but an easy bogey.” As gifted as he was at golf design, Jones was equally skilled as a salesman, promoter, and entrepreneur. Golf Digest’s annual rankings of the 100 Greatest Golf Courses have regularly featured about fifty Jones designs, paving the path for his two sons, Robert Jr., and Rees, whose work would carry on their father’s tradition. Hansen examines Jones’s legacy in all its complexity and influence, including the fraternal rivalry of Jones’s distinguished sons.
In the years between the historic first moon landing by Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969, and his death at age 82 on August 25, 2012, Neil Armstrong received hundreds of thousands of cards and letters from all over the world, congratulating him, praising him, requesting pictures and autographs, and asking him what must have seemed to him to be limitless—and occasionally intrusive—questions. Of course, all the famous astronauts received fan mail, but the sheer volume Armstrong had to deal with for more than four decades after his moon landing was staggering.
Today, the preponderance of those letters—some 75,000 of them—are preserved in the archives at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Dear Neil Armstrong: Letters to the First Man on the Moon publishes a careful sampling of these letters—roughly 400—reflecting the various kinds of correspondence that Armstrong received along with representative samples of his replies. Selected and edited by James R. Hansen, Armstrong’s authorized biographer and author of the New York Times best seller First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, this collection sheds light on Armstrong’s enduring impact and offers an intimate glimpse into the cultural meanings of human spaceflight. Readers will explore what the thousands of letters to Neil Armstrong meant not only to those who wrote them, but as a snapshot of one of humankind’s greatest achievements in the twentieth century. They will see how societies and cultures projected their own meanings onto one of the world’s great heroes and iconic figures.
More than just an outlining of historical facts is to be found here, for Hansen has captured the very culture of Langley. He has done so by illustrating what I see as the four major aspects of the laboratory: people, facilities, program, and customer relations.
People, of course, have always been the most important aspect of this unique place, so it is good to see the people themselves studied so carefully in its first complete history. Hansen is seriously concerned with the motivations, the training, the personalities, the hopes of people who caused aeronautical science and technology to evolve.
‘Engineer in Charge’ conveys a wealth of Langley's institutional experience in dealing with the kinds of questions about facilities and program. Hansen tells how Langley's first wind tunnel came to have an open circuit-a safe and proven design, but much less useful than the closed-circuit tunnels then coming into their own. The rapid subsequent evolution of wind tunnels, much of which took place at Langley, involved further choices that required commitment of funds and time and effort without certainty of getting the hoped-for results. Readers will find themselves watching the evolution of the facilities and program at NACA Langley, from the early quantum improvements in aircraft design to the pre-NASA work that foreran the various space programs.
Hansen also traces Langley's fourth important aspect, its relations with the industrial, scientific, and technical community it was built to serve. While the laboratory has a strong tradition of independent research, it also has a tradition of solving the problem of the moment-of "fighting fires." The most striking example of this ability was the work of over 300 Langley engineers and technicians on the space shuttle thermal protection system, the tiles that protect the shuttle from the intense heat of reentry into the atmosphere from space.
Readers will also find here the background of these customer relations-not only the "what" of Langley's work with the larger aeronautical community of which it has been a part, but the "how" and the "why" as well. While Hansen has defined for himself the primary task of telling Langley's story in terms of Langley itself, he has nonetheless devoted extensive effort to showing how Langley worked with Washington, with aircraft manufacturers, and with the armed services and others.
The importance of a history such as this book is to better understand the character of an organization and what it will mean to the future. There is a living memory at Langley, an awareness of the triumphs, and for that matter the failures, of the laboratory's past. But a living memory is in most respects an incomplete and anecdotal memory, a mixture of hearsay and hand-me-down impressions, a collection of stories embellished by time and imagination, an awareness of some of the facts, a misunderstanding of others. What is needed is a systematic arrangement of what is known, a synthesis of what is recorded on paper and film with what is remembered by surviving participants-in short, what is needed is a sort of accurate rejuvenation of the living memory.
Langley has only just begun to be called upon by the aerospace community for the things only Langley can provide. NASA has called upon James Hansen for an accurate rejuvenation of Langley's living memory. Here it is.
La vida del primer hombre que pisó la Luna y la historia del hito que marcó la humanidad y la carrera espacial.
Cuando el Apolo 11 aterrizó en la Luna en 1969, el primer hombre en dejar su huella en la superficie se convirtió en leyenda. Basado en material exclusivo compuesto por más de cincuenta horas de grabaciones privadas con Neil Armstrong, documentos personales y entrevistas con familiares cercanos, James Hansen logra una magnífica panorámica de la segunda mitad del siglo XX además de elaborar una biografía inigualable sobre uno de los protagonistas incontestables de la historia reciente.
En una penetrante exploración del culto al héroe estadounidense, Hansen aborda el complejo legado del Primer Hombre, como astronauta y como individuo. En este libro, la intimidad, la ciencia y la épica se entremezclan para formar el retrato de un héroe rebelde que siempre será conocido como el viajero espacial más famoso de la historia.
La crítica ha dicho...
«El historiador James Hansen combina hábilmente la saga de Armstrong con el trasfondo histórico de la introducción de América a la Era del Espacio. Un libro excelente.»
Capitán James A. Lovell, comandante del Apolo 13
«Esta impresionante biografía, bien documentada y apasionantemente escrita, superará la prueba del inexorable paso del tiempo.»
«Una biografía poderosa e implacable de un hombre que es la personificación de la fuerza de carácter y la determinación cotidiana [...]. Una lectura obligada para los adoradores del mundo espacial y los lectores de historia por igual.»
664 pages. Over 200 photos and illustrations. Contents hyperlinked for easy navigation.
1 - The Metamorphosis
2 - The First NASA Inspection
3 - Carrying Out the Task
5 - The "Mad Scientists" of MPD
6 - The Odyssey of Project Echo
7 - Learning Through Failure: The Early Rush of the Scout Rocket Program
8 - Enchanted Rendezvous: The Lunar-Orbit Rendezvous Concept
9 - Skipping "The Next Logical Step"
10 - To Behold the Moon: The Lunar Orbiter Project
11 - In the Service of Apollo
12 - The Cortright Synthesis
Bonus Chapter – Langley Research Center Overview
Con queste parole preziose Neil Armstrong rievoca, soffermandosi su ogni singolo momento, l'epica impresa che, domenica 20 luglio 1969, fece di lui il primo uomo a mettere piede sulla Luna. Mentre milioni di persone sulla Terra lo seguivano ammutolite davanti al televisore per poi esplodere in un moto di gioia irripetibile, Neil compì quello che definì un piccolo passo per un uomo, un grande passo per l'umanità. Ma non si trattò di una missione priva di rischi e imprevisti - non si poteva ben prevedere la consistenza della superficie lunare, il carburante sarebbe bastato per soli 45 secondi dopo l'allunaggio -, né fu un caso che sia stato proprio Armstrong a portarla a termine. Originario dell'Ohio ("the middle of nowhere"), Neil è uno di quegli eroi moderni che nascono solo negli States. Classe media, con un padre duro, fin da piccolo si appassiona alla meccanica degli aerei e presto viene arruolato come pilota nella guerra di Corea, dove si salva solo eiettandosi in volo. Al ritorno in patria entra nella NASA, ma la vita lo castiga: gli muore una figlia. Lui non molla ed è proprio il suo unico mix di passione ingegneristica per il volo, serietà, intransigenza e dedizione al grande sogno della missione sulla Luna a fargli meritare il ruolo di comandante della missione Apollo 11.
A biografia de Neil Armstrong que inspirou o novo filme protagonizado por Ryan Gosling
Em julho de 1969, o mundo parou para assistir à primeira pessoa a pisar na superfície de outro corpo celeste que não a Terra. Você já deve ter ouvido a frase que Neil Armstrong disse naquele momento: “É um pequeno passo para um homem, um grande salto para a humanidade.”
Discreto e avesso a discussões, Armstrong foi alçado ao estrelato no instante em que deu aquele primeiro passo na Lua. A mítica em torno do homem se expandia conforme o mundo inteiro acompanhava a saga que definiria a nossa história.
Frente a tamanha magnitude, o historiador James R. Hansen trabalhou minuciosamente para fazer jus à importância de Neil: entrevistou mais de 120 pessoas, teve acesso a documentos privados da família Armstrong e gravou mais de 50 horas de entrevista com O Primeiro Homem. O resultado é uma biografia rica em detalhes e fotos que apresenta a infância de Neil, os bastidores da missão especial Apolo 11, os percalços da fama e a trajetória do astronauta depois da NASA. Uma obra essencial para quem é fascinado por história, pelo espaço e por grandes personalidades.
A biografia inspirou o filme homônimo protagonizado por Ryan Gosling, dirigido por Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) e com roteiro de Josh Singer (Spotlight).