One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon

One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon

The remarkable story of the trailblazers and the ordinary Americans on the front lines of the epic mission to reach the moon.President John F. Kennedy astonished the world on May 25, 1961, when he announced to Congress that the United States should land a man on the Moon by 1970. No group was more surprised than the scientists and engineers at NASA, who suddenly had less t...

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Title:One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon
Author:Charles Fishman
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One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon Reviews

  • Jane

    One Giant Leap is a story of how and why the United States of America beat the Soviet Union to the moon. It tells why by detailing the sociological, economic and political background during the 1950s into the 1960s that made the effort necessary. The Cold War was a dominant factor in citizens’ consciousnesses...and America was lagging behind their enemy! Freedom or tyranny was at stake! The writing is not pretentious. Although well researched, the book is easy to follow and filled with lots of i

    One Giant Leap is a story of how and why the United States of America beat the Soviet Union to the moon. It tells why by detailing the sociological, economic and political background during the 1950s into the 1960s that made the effort necessary. The Cold War was a dominant factor in citizens’ consciousnesses...and America was lagging behind their enemy! Freedom or tyranny was at stake! The writing is not pretentious. Although well researched, the book is easy to follow and filled with lots of interesting facts, such as how many of the critical elements like astronauts’ space suits were sewn by hand, how the wire that carried the computer instructions was hand woven into the circuits, and how pictures of Playboy Playmates made the trip. For this reader who lived through the period it was a wonderful refresher course of the history occurring in my younger years...Vietnam, civil rights, and the assassinations of Medgar Evers, the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King. The book recounts the debate within the Kennedy administration, the meetings, the players, LBJ’s role, how James Webb was selected to head NASA. Once the decision was made the how do we do this questions began. The technology simply didn’t exist. Weight was an issue because as the author points out it took three pounds of fuel to launch one pound of supplies. Navigation problems had to be addressed, current computing capabilities had to be overcome. The chapters on the development of an interactive computer and how to program it alone are worth the price of this book. Methods to keep the astronauts alive going, during and returning had to be designed...spacesuits, cabin atmosphere, the ability to rendezvous, a functional heat shield, the lunar lander and a vehicle to explore the moon’s surface. Focusing on the unsung engineers, mathematicians, suppliers, as well as the politics behind the Apollo project’s ultimate success that seldom are showcased adds great depth to the biggest story of this reader’s lifetime. It was expensive, but was it worth the cost? The last two scheduled missions were canceled because of budget concerns, so was all that expended effort worthwhile? What exactly was gained? I voluntarily reviewed an advance copy of this book. Most highly recommend.

  • Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com

    For more reviews and bookish posts please visit:

    One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon by Charles Fishman tells the story of the Americans who fought tooth and nail to accomplish the task of sending me to the moon, and bringing them safely back to Earth.

    I’ve read many books about the space program, not nearly as much as other enthusiasts, but enough to hold on to a simple conversation. Being that this year is the 50th anniversary of the moon la

    For more reviews and bookish posts please visit:

    One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon by Charles Fishman tells the story of the Americans who fought tooth and nail to accomplish the task of sending me to the moon, and bringing them safely back to Earth.

    I’ve read many books about the space program, not nearly as much as other enthusiasts, but enough to hold on to a simple conversation. Being that this year is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, an event which to me is still as exciting as it was back then, there is a lot of material, much of it new (to me) being published.

    I had no idea what to expect from One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon by Charles Fishman, I thought that it would be another book, rehashing to space program up to the mid-1970s, than complaining about the lack of advancement, than making a push for lunar exploration/meteor excavation/space tourism/Mars mission.

    What I got instead was a behind the scenes stories of those that help get men to the moon, several cool anecdotes (the American flag was an afterthought) and the impact the space program had, which we feel to this day. The extraordinary book starts with something that I’ve been actually wandering about for a while: what does the moon smell like? This was my favorite part because I could imagine myself sitting with astronauts telling this very personal story.

    The author goes on to describe how NASA had to invent management processes for such a huge project, which involved up to 20,000 separate companies, all told from the perspective of a few people in upper management. A very interesting, insightful, and readable section which could very easily be made into its own book.

    Even though people these days don’t realize it, we all benefited from the space program, the book has a whole section which tells of the earthly accomplishments be it ball point pens of the sharp drop in computer chips which help usher in the digital age much quicker. As in everything, there is the bad side as well, the huge amount of money spent on the space program could have been used elsewhere (even though, that’s not how it works), the book does not shy away from this issue either, and, while not discussing it in depth, at least acknowledges that it exists.

    More than anything, this book puts the Apollo mission in the social and political context of today’s world. The immense achievements we live with today, the inspiration of generations and management of large projects are just a few things which we owe to the space program.

  • Patricia

    I loved reading this book! The explanation of the science and will to succeed that led to the moon landings is enhanced by the context of history, before, during and after the Apollo years. I was almost 10 years old at the time of Apollo 11 and I remember staying up late to watch the landing on TV. This book illuminates many things I was too young to understand at the time and makes a great argument for regarding the Apollo mission as an amazing success. Highly recommended.

  • Julie

    Having so recently read Shoot for the Moon by James Donovan, there will be a few comparisons, but overall, these were very different books. SftM was a linear narrative and I was emotionally vested, where OGL was much more technical and political. The first chapter introduces the world to the decade in which the space program was born. “The eight years from Kennedy’s speech to Armstrong’s first steps were as transformative as any eight-year period in post-World War II American history…” The dawn

    Having so recently read Shoot for the Moon by James Donovan, there will be a few comparisons, but overall, these were very different books. SftM was a linear narrative and I was emotionally vested, where OGL was much more technical and political. The first chapter introduces the world to the decade in which the space program was born. “The eight years from Kennedy’s speech to Armstrong’s first steps were as transformative as any eight-year period in post-World War II American history…” The dawn of the 1960’s saw technology associated with military applications, but NASA would change that. “The race to the Moon took developments and technologies and trends… and magnified them, accelerated them, and helped make their significance and value clear well beyond space travel.”

    As I said, the narrative doesn’t take us from the beginning of the decade through the end of Apollo. Rather, each chapter addresses different components or problems that needed to be solved and the individuals who contributed to Apollo’s success. And throughout it all is the immediacy to beat the Russians in the space race. “…Americans don’t associate the Moon landings with the Cold War or see them as a dramatic victory over the Soviet Union… But the race to the Moon was born in the Cold War and wouldn’t have happened when it did, with the urgency it did, without it.”

    I would say the main theme was how much NASA influenced the technology we have come to take for granted today. There is an entire chapter devoted to the intricacies of the computer and its development. “The Apollo computer had .000002 percent of the computing capacity of the phone in your pocket: two-millionths of 1 percent.” Yet at the time it was the most sophisticated computer ever built. The impact NASA had on integrated circuit chips alone is astounding. In hindsight, it’s hard to fathom that, “The needs of a spaceship computer were just two or three years ahead of the sophisticated technology necessary to make it.”

    Of course, I loved the trivial tidbits that I read about. I didn’t realize that Playtex (the bra company) designed the space suits. And did you know there was porn on the moon during Apollo 12? The anecdote about GM insisting on designing the lunar rover was cool considering it lead to the discovery of the Genesis Rock (go ahead, Google it, it’s fascinating).

    The book concluded by disputing the idea that the money spent on the space program could have been better spent on more worthwhile things like fighting poverty or funding education. In comparing it to the far more expensive Vietnam War (especially considering the cost of human life), “Apollo was a success,” where Vietnam was a failure. “It was a demonstration of American technological prowess, a demonstration of engineering and manufacturing excellence; it was a reminder of American economic power and also American determination.” I appreciate that Shoot for the Moon gave me more background on the program prior to reading this because it helped me to better grasp the intricacies that One Great Leap presented.

    I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.

  • Robyn Harrison

    So many things I either didn't know or had forgotten about this time in history. It certainly left me with a lot to think about...

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