Saturday, 11 February 2017

Talking Books Two

Apollo Pilot: The Memoir of Astronaut Donn Eisele. Edited by Francis French.

I've read an awful lot of biographies and autobiographies from the early manned space programme but none of them were quite like this one.

Eisele died before he could revise or publish his memoirs and they only came to light a few years ago despite being first penned in the 1970s and boy are they frank.

Eisele flew on Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, and it wasn't an entirely happy mission. This was partly due to illness and partly down to the temperament of the commander causing issues with those left on the ground - almost to the point of mutiny.

Even though ultimately the mission was a success it was never highly respected and none of the crew flew in space again and Eisele is not backwards in coming forwards in saying exactly what he thought about all of the treatment the crew suffered, nor does he spare his tongue when giving his thoughts on his commander.

Eisele also talks frankly about the behaviour of the astronauts when they were away from home, which has been alluded to before but never in quite such frank terms!

This book is interesting as it was put together by French from notes that Eisele left and I imagine that he had to also be respectful of Eisele's remaining family (sadly his second wife passed away before publiciation) but even so this is a book that fills in the details gleaned from histories of the era but never mentioned in the official autobiographies and biographies.

It probably won't appeal too much to people who aren't intimate with the players from the Cape at this time but I loved the background colour this gave.

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