The Story of Apollo 8


310 Pages, 6 x 9

ebook: PDF, $5.99 (US $5.99) (CA $7.99)

Publication Date: October 2012

ISBN 9781495600463

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It was Christmas Eve 1968. And the astronauts of Apollo 8 - Commander Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders - were participants in a mission that took them faster (24,000 mph) and farther from the earth (240,000 miles) than any human had ever traveled. Apollo 8 was the mission that broke humanity's absolute bond to the earth: it was the first manned vehicle to leave the earth's orbit. Confined within a tiny spaceship, the astronauts were aided in their journey by a computer less powerful than one of today's handheld calculators. Their mission was not only a triumph of engineering, but also an enduring moment in history. The words these three men spoke from lunar orbit reverberated through American society, changing our culture in ways no one predicted.


"Zimmerman, who writes for the Sciences, Astronomy, and the Wall Street Journal, tells the story of the three astronauts involved in the "first manned flight to another world" as we approach its 30th anniversary. The story is well told in the astronauts' own words and through interviews with their wives and children. The sections covering selected events and personages of the Cold War and the 1960s provide a unique perspective; the role of religion in the astronauts' lives is an important theme not found elsewhere. While Apollo 8 is included in many other books on the Apollo program, Zimmerman's work is the first to cover this flight alone and to stress its monumental significance as the most important Apollo mission. A strong purchase for all academic and public libraries." —Library Journal, Dale Ebersole, Carlson Lib., Univ. of Toledo, OH  Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

"The year 1968 is memorable for any number of reasons, science writer Zimmerman reminds us, not the least of which was the historic flight of Apollo 8, the first manned space flight to slip out of Earth's gravitational tethers. Apollo 8, with Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders aboard, blasted off in late December of 1968, its intention to journey beyond Earth's orbit, slip into a lunar orbit, then escape again, and return. Its success was a momentous occasionthe frontiers of space had been effectively pushed out, way outalthough it was overshadowed six months later by the actual lunar landing. Zimmerman, a science and technology writer who has contributed to American Heritage, the Sciences, and other publications, has chosen two aspects of the Apollo 8 mission to emphasize. First, he depicts a space program then still the venue of the hero/ace pilot who, sacrificing family priorities and personal safety, was the Cold Warrior nonpareil. In relating this, Zimmerman situates the flight within the context of that electrifying and appalling yearthe Tet Offensive, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, student uprisings, the Chicago Democratic convention, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedywhen more than a spacecraft appeared to be spinning out of orbit. Zimmerman keeps in check this potentially hyperbolic drama, giving it a nice steady rhythm, but he loses that touch when he goes after his second theme, attempting to infuse the event with righteousness. It showed the world, Zimmerman claims, an 'American vision of moral individuality, religious tolerance and mutual respect,'' though its difficult to see the space race as an expression of such respect or to decipher the meaning of ``moral individuality'' in this context. Zimmerman does realize that perhaps the most lasting achievement of Apollo 8 is a photograph of Earthrise over the Moon. Never before had our planet seemed so small, so lonely, so vulnerableor so priceless. (photos, not seen)" —Kirkus Reviews, Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Author Biography

Robert Zimmerman is an award-winning science journalist and historian who has written four books and more than a hundred articles on science, engineering, and the history of space exploration and technology. His third book, Leaving Earth: Space Stations, Rival Superpowers, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel (Joseph Henry Press), was awarded the American Astronautical Society's Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Award in 2003 as the best space history for the general public. His magazine and newspaper articles have appeared in Science, Astronomy, Sky & Telescope, Air & Space, Natural History, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Wired, Invention & Technology and a host of other publications. In 2000 he was co-winner of the David N. Schramm Award, given by the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society for Science Journalism, for his essay in The Sciences, "There She Blows," on the 35-year-old astronomical mystery of gamma ray bursts. In addition, he writes daily about space, science, politics, technology, and culture at his website, Behind the He was born in Brooklyn and lives in Tucson, Arizona.