On July 20, 1969, the world stood still to watch thirty-eight-year-old American astronaut Neil A. Armstrong become the first person to step on the surface of another heavenly body. Perhaps no words in human history became better known than those few he uttered at that historic moment. In a penetrating exploration of American hero worship, Hansen addresses the complex legacy of the First Man, as an astronaut and an individual.
About James R. Hansen
James R. Hansen is a professor of history at Auburn University. A former historian for NASA, Hansen is the author of eight books on the history of aerospace. He lives in Auburn, Alabama.
When, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface from Apollo 11, the spacecraft he commanded, the world united for a minute. Russian communist newspaper Pravda called the crew “three courageous men,” while a Czech commentator said, “This is the America we love, one so totally different from the America that fights in Vietnam.” Even the French joined in, with France-Soir calling the landing “the greatest adventure in the history of humanity.” By Hansen’s account, Armstrong had a certain affect on people; though he was customarily the youngest (and smallest) of his military cohort, he had all the grit, diplomatic skill and tenacity necessary to get things done. He also had a talent for walking away from near-misses with death, both as a carrier-based Navy pilot during the Korean War and as a NASA test pilot in the California desert. Though Hansen can be portentous (noting, for instance, that the etymology of “Neil” is either “cloud” or “champion”), he is not inclined to reflexive hero worship. The Armstrong he presents is capable of scrapping bitterly with hero and fellow test pilot Chuck Yeager (who, Armstrong said, was a good flyer but “seemed to have less interest in precision and getting information and drawing conclusions,” as a test pilot was supposed to), and equally capable of pulling rank (he beat out Buzz Aldrin to be first out Apollo’s door). To his credit, too, Hansen enjoys demolishing myths, showing that the small-town stargazer who supposedly gave Armstrong his start was merely a good self-promoter and that Yeager had nothing on Armstrong in the cool department. – Kirkus Reviews
Made ‘Giant Leap’ as First Man to Step on Moon
The New York Times – August 25, 2012 (Excerpt)
Neil Armstrong, who made the “giant leap for mankind” as the first human to set foot on the moon, died on Saturday. He was 82.
His family said in a statement that the cause was “complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.” He had undergone heart bypass surgery this month in Cincinnati, near where he lived. His recovery had been going well, according to those who spoke with him after the surgery, and his death came as a surprise to many close to him, including his fellow Apollo astronauts. The family did not say where he died.
A quiet, private man, at heart an engineer and crack test pilot, Mr. Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969, as the commander of the Apollo 11 spacecraft on the mission that culminated the Soviet-American space race in the 1960s. President John F. Kennedy had committed the nation “to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.” It was done with more than five months to spare. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS
A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith.
- 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
The Bleeding Hills is available at Amazon.Com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Noble, and any other good bookstore.