The untold story of the historic voyage to the moon that closed out one of our darkest years with a nearly unimaginable triumph.
In August 1968, NASA made a bold decision: in just sixteen weeks, the United States would launch humankind’s first flight to the moon. Only the year before, three astronauts had burned to death in their spacecraft, and since then the Apollo program had suffered one setback after another. Meanwhile, the Russians were winning the space race, the Cold War was getting hotter by the month, and President Kennedy’s promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade seemed sure to be broken. But when Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders were summoned to a secret meeting and told of the dangerous mission, they instantly signed on.
Written with all the color and verve of the best narrative non-fiction, Apollo 8 takes us from Mission Control to the astronaut’s homes, from the test labs to the launch pad. The race to prepare an untested rocket for an unprecedented journey paves the way for the hair-raising trip to the moon. Then, on Christmas Eve, a nation that has suffered a horrendous year of assassinations and war is heartened by an inspiring message from the trio of astronauts in lunar orbit. And when the mission is over—after the first view of the far side of the moon, the first earth-rise, and the first re-entry through the earth’s atmosphere following a flight to deep space—the impossible dream of walking on the moon suddenly seems within reach.
The full story of Apollo 8 has never been told, and only Jeffrey Kluger—Jim Lovell’s co-author on their bestselling book about Apollo 13—can do it justice. Here is the tale of a mission that was both a calculated risk and a wild crapshoot, a stirring account of how three American heroes forever changed our view of the home planet.
About the Author
Jeffrey Kluger is the author of several books, including Apollo 13 (originally published as Lost Moon) and The Sibling Effect. As a science editor and senior writer for Time for more than two decades, he has written more than forty cover stories for the magazine. He lives in New York City.
"Kluger, a science journalist, previously co-authored the best-selling book turned blockbuster film Apollo 13, and his latest foray into space history overflows with similarly cinematic details. Apollo 8 delivers the definitive story of what is, and always will be, one of humanity's greatest adventures."—Scientific American
"Kluger takes readers inside the capsule.... Every agonizing moment both prior to the mission and the mission itself unfolds in fascinating detail, and Kluger makes the reader more than just an observer while events transpire. Those familiar with the early history of NASA and the Apollo missions will love Apollo 8, and those who were born in later years will discover a full understanding of a tumultuous time and the fascinating people who helped make a dream a reality." —Associated Press
"Compelling.... An engaging tale, delving into the nooks and crannies of physics, space politics, and human dynamics.....Kluger ably resurrects the drama of half a century ago."—Christian Science Monitor
"Kluger has a knack for telling these stories of humans, machines and the cosmos in an engaging, cinematic manner.... Apollo 8 is a worthy addition to the space history catalog.... Kluger excels at recounting missions, seamlessly blending procedures with descriptions of what the astronauts saw and felt."—Dallas Morning News
"Relying on extensive interviews with all three NASA astronauts and former NASA officials, agency documents and the mission audio archive, the author paints an unforgettable picture of the dramatic, wildly successful lunar mission.... [Kluger] informs us in vivid, crisply written prose exactly how the United States recovered from its despairing doldrums and regained national pride.... Revealing and alive, Apollo 8 is a wonderful, fascinating read." —Tampa Bay Times
"An emotion-filled, inspiring retelling of a remarkable achievement.... Kluger superbly recounts this epic event. He stays close to the facts and, in easy-to-understand explanations, delves into the physics, politics and human dynamics of this space venture.... Primary resources add a key dimension to the thrill and the authenticity of the story."—The Missourian
“In spare yet vivid prose, Kluger…captures the nostalgia and excitement of a‘space-drunk nation’ in this gripping account of the first lunar mission…. Kluger’s laudable storytelling novelistically conveys the charged politics of the era…. Readers will relish Kluger’s multisensory prose, and the whole gamut of space flight comes alive in the details.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Compelling.... The Apollo 8 mission [was] at least as audacious as anything NASA has done before or since.... A detailed, and entertaining, account." —The Space Review
"There is plenty of Apollo information and narrative out there for the interested reader, but it needs the discerning eye of a Kluger, who knows how to sift through it all to the essential detail and tell it accessibly. His style never underplays the spectacle and achievement of the moon shots, but he laces his descriptions with reminders that the endeavour was delivered by human ingenuity, labour and passion."—NewScientist.com
“The lead-up to the mission -- the selection of astronauts, the testing of equipment, the training -- is just as compelling as the flight itself…. Comprehensively detailed, and written with the sure hand of someone who knows his material inside and out, the book is guaranteed to be a hit with armchair astronauts, space-program veterans, and all readers in between.” —Booklist
“An enjoyable retelling of one of the momentous American achievements that made moon landing possible.” —Kirkus Reviews
"Readers will enjoy the vicarious thrill of that flight to the Moon in the stellar company of Borman, Anders and Lovell."—Nature
"Kluger paints a detailed picture of a dangerous journey…. His access to NASA mission transcripts…proves particularly useful in bringing the reader inside the capsule. On the ground, Kluger expertly captures the intensity of the flight controllers and the anxiety of the astronauts' families watching from suburban Houston. For a book about science and exploration, there's plenty of emotion."—BookPage Online
"No matter how many times you return to the Apollo missions, you never exhaust their thrilling seat-of-your-pants suspense. But here, in the superbly capable hands of Jeffrey Kluger, the little known story of Apollo 8 bursts vividly to life. I couldn't put it down." —Ken Burns, Director of more than two dozen films, including ‘The Civil War,’ ‘Baseball’ and ‘Jackie Robinson’
“Drawing on historical transcripts and documents and his own extensive interviews with the leading players, Jeffrey Kluger paints a portrait of the U.S. space program and the first manned expedition to the moon so vivid that we feel ourselves riding in the hurtling rocket with the astronauts, taut with the thrill, the danger, and the cosmic meaning of the mission. Apollo 8 is storytelling at its best.”—Alan Lightman, MIT professor of humanities, and best-selling author of The Accidental Universe
“This irresistible tale is full of rocketry and space science, all of it elegantly explained, but it’s the extraordinary cast of characters that remains with you, as human as they are heroic and each portrayed with wit and empathy by a master story-teller.”—Geoffrey C. Ward, author of A First-Class Temperament
"It was refreshing to read about my friends Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders and follow their record setting trip to the moon. Jeffrey has got it all exactly straightand I enjoyed reading it very much.” —Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot, Apollo 11
"One of our greatest accomplishments – people truly leaving our planet for the first time – finally gets its due. Jeffrey Kluger colorfully captures the time, the people, and the mission of Apollo 8 with an entertaining and informative account of the stories of this historic adventure. This book let me relive my little boy inspiration to explore space." —Mike Massimino, shuttle astronaut and best-selling author of ‘Spaceman’