Tuesday, 21 July 2009

One Small Step...

First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong - James Hansen

Hundreds of millions of people around the world watched Neil Armstrong take his first step out of the lunar module (Eagle) on to the surface of the moon at 02.56 GMT on July 21st 1969.

Since that moment Neil Armstrong has avoided the being in the limelight as much as is possible for a real American hero. Instead of living off of his fame Armstrong has buried himself in life as an academic. (And who can blame him when even his barber will sell his hair clippings to memorabilia collectors?)

Unlike his crew mates Armstrong has not written his autobiography, however in 2005 he did allow James Hansen to publish an authorised biography. Hansen talked to friends and family who normally remain silent and has produced a very thorough account of Armstrong's life.

First Man is by far the longest book about the Apollo 11 crew and is crammed full of details about every aspect of Armstrong's life, with a heavy bias on the technological aspects. This emphasis makes the book a more challenging read than those by Aldrin and Collins but as so little is written by or about Armstrong that is actually authorised and accurate it is worth reading if you are interested - just to get an idea of who he actually is.

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