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Astronauts: Awesome, but Not Perfect

Updated on December 29, 2017

The "Right Stuff"

Tom Wolfe, in his inimitable style, gave us this masterpiece, The Right Stuff, about the original American astronauts: the "Mercury Seven." Take a break from science fiction and look into this book full of science facts as well as the real drama of families living on technology's cutting edge at a turbulent time in history.

For those too young to know, the Cold War was a scary time for Americans. Soviet communism was a clear and present danger and technology became the battlefield between the free world and the communists. Tom Wolfe takes us from the Sputnik event, in which the Russians got an artificial satellite into orbit before the United States did, to Yuri Gargarin's historic "first man in space" flight for the Soviets, to the struggles involved in getting Americans into space.

While Wolfe did his research and had a good understanding of the technical aspects of spece flight, the most compelling portions of this book are the human stories. When I was a child, astronauts were idols--supermen of our time. We wanted to drink Tang because the astronauts did, learn math and science like the astronauts did, go to engineering school like an astronaut, etc. Tom Wolfe explores the more human aspects of the astronauts. Having the right stuff didn't make them perfect, although they were certainly unique among Americans.

Wolfe also portrays the wives of the "Mercury Seven" sympathetically. The stress of marriage to a test pilot was bad enough, but these women endured even more than that. How did they cope with husbands who were celebrities engaged in dangerous experiments while the whole world watched? This book should give all Americans a greater appreciation for those who dare to explore the unknown for the sake of science or national defense.

A Compelling Story of Courage

The Right Stuff
The Right Stuff

Like the book, the movie is long--but well worth your time!


Are you old enough to remember the Mercury, Gemini, or Apollo missions?

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    • SamuraiMarine profile image

      Samuel Wright 4 years ago from Bakersfield, Ca.

      Read this book years ago, before I saw the movie. Excellent read, and I have read it a couple more times. Wolfe is an outstanding story-teller.

      Great review!

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 4 years ago from Texas USA

      the book looks like it might be an interesting read as well. great review of the book. i think i said movie in the previous comment.

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 4 years ago from Texas USA

      i have never watched the movie, though it opened in theatres while i was in the early days of my military career. i may have to give this a visit. excellent review. congrats on lotd.

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 4 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      A friend of mine grew up in Houston, where her dad worked for NASA during that time. I grew up in INdiana watching the astronauts on TV.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 4 years ago from Houston

      I actually lived through that time period with my dad who worked in the space program from Project Mercury through the early days of the space station. Congrats!

    • mansfisa44 profile image

      mansfisa44 4 years ago

      Good Job!

    • profile image

      Ibidii 4 years ago

      I meant book, I did watch the move, I will have to read the book. I listened to Apollo 13 book and it was great!

    • profile image

      Ibidii 4 years ago

      Awesome review, I want to watch this movie, and congratulations on Review of the the day!

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 4 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Great review!! Congratulations on Review of the the day :)

    • alexia-britannica profile image

      alexia-britannica 4 years ago

      Hope this book will be a good one....

    • alexia-britannica profile image

      alexia-britannica 4 years ago

      Hope this book will be a good one....

    • profile image

      tonyleather 4 years ago

      This looks like a book I should like to read!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

      I would appreciate this book very much, as I would like to know more about the personal stories of the Space Age. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. Congrats on Review of the Day!

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 4 years ago from New York City

      Congratulations on your recognition for this very well crafted lens.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Congrats on Review of the Day! It sounds like an excellent book!

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 4 years ago from USA

      Congratulations on being selected review of the day!

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Oh, absolutely the human stories are the best... not that I've read this book... I just know that human interest stories keep my attention!! Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the review!

    • puppy-love profile image

      puppy-love 4 years ago

      This looks like an interesting read.