Robert Kurson’s nonfiction account of Apollo 8, “Rocket Men,” about the bold mission to send astronauts out of earth’s orbit to the moon’s orbit, on a shortened timeline, with the whole world watching.
Kurson does a thorough job exploring the backgrounds of each astronaut on Apollo 8: Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders. Their mission was the first manned spacecraft to leave the earth’s orbit, reach the moon, orbit it, and then return unharmed back to earth. The mission catapulted the United States’ space program past that of the USSR, a position that it never relinquished to this day.
While some know of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins’ iconic landing on the moon during Apollo 11, their mission would never have taken place if Apollo 8 hadn’t made it to the moon first, during a flawless mission mapping out the route, the landing spot, and the proof that it could be done during Christmas, the year of 1968.
Something I appreciated about “Rocket Men” was the historical context that Kurson provided about the tumult in the US and around the world in the same year. The iconic flight was a unifying achievement that brought the entire world together as one despite our differences.
I really enjoyed this account and all the details that Kurson dug up in this book. I strongly recommend it.
If you want more information about Apollo 8 and would rather watch a documentary on the mission, check out this great film from Nova, released in 2019 on YouTube: