Eight Years to the Moon – The History of the Apollo Missions by Nancy Atkinson, Page Street Publishing Company; July 2019; Hardback; 240 pages, $35.00

There was a literary landslide of books tied to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.

But author Nancy Atkinson has written a truly impressive, behind-the-scenes look at the epic adventure that was Project Apollo. As a space journalist, she burned up significant shoe leather talking with the men and women who made the triumph of landing the first humans on the Moon a reality. The volume includes 30 new interviews and contains over 100 full-color photographs and scads of black and white images, many of them I’ve never seen before.

As the title suggests, the chapters of this large format book run from 1961 to 1969, with the final chapter dedicated to Apollo 11, followed by an epilogue detailing Apollo 12-17.

Atkinson writes that each of the missions leading up to Apollo 11 had their own unique characteristics: “the successes and accomplishments, the problems in preparations, all the step-by-step processes that needed to be learned and mastered in simulations, the personalities of the crew and everyone involved. And the quick sequence of missions – five within nine months – meant there wasn’t time to bask in any successes. Instead, there was urgency and intensity.”

The author’s impeccable research exposed an Apollo 11 anomaly. The details and documentation about this glitch were lost for nearly fifty years. You’ll have to read the book for details!

As noted in Apollo 9’s Russell “Rusty” Schweickart’s foreword in the book – “Apollo 50th Anniversary and the Cosmic Perspective” – it took over 400,000 people to make it possible to get to the Moon.

“While the stories in Eight Years to the Moon are just a sampling of the 400,000 stories that are out there, this sampling comes at a deeper level that has not generally been heard, and provides an intuitive view of those who worked on the myriad bits and pieces of Apollo,” Schweickart writes.

There are insights from dozens of Apollo experts in the book that offer fresh accounts of doing things that had never been done before that led to the conquering Apollo 11 mission.

This is an outstanding and well-written book that is a must-have for any person trying to fully appreciate the incredible project Apollo endeavor.


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