In an age where the phrase "print is dead" is becoming more of a reality every day -- and I'm one who for years has preferred to consume his news on a screen rather than paper -- along comes a book filled with images that is best presented as it is: a high-quality, bound tome filled with photos precisely arranged to tell the story of what is one of humanity's greatest achievements so far. That achievement -- the 1969 flight of Apollo 11, the first lunar landing -- is reverently presented here as a visual feast that includes an unexpected sense of intimacy that puts the reader right next to the men and women who were involved with every step of the mission, from pre-flight training and hardware assembly to splashdown and the post-mission celebrations.
All of this comes courtesy of authors Pickering and Bisney, who have proven their visual story telling skills with other books collecting images from the space program. This book, like the others, is built from the thousands and thousands of space program-related photographs, negatives, transparencies and digital images they have collected quite literally from childhood. Material sourced from NASA or government contractors working on the Apollo program are supplemented by private news photographers who had a front row seat to Apollo and were willing to share. The brothers Mark and Tom Usciak should be singled out in particular.
As the authors note in their book, the description that these are "rare views and undiscovered moments" is quite true. I have been associated with the space program at Cape Canaveral for more than 30 years and I can vouch for that description. While the book certainly contains a number of photos familiar to anyone who has read even a little about Apollo 11, the vast majority have been seen by very few, if not at all. In any case, the way they are presented here, with accompanying text that is non-technical and helpful, makes it all seem fresh and new. And if you're like me, you will find yourself surprised with what the captions say about these moments captured on film. The one that grabbed me the most and prompted me to just stare at the picture for a long while was one featuring NASA astronaut Ted Freeman in which the caption notes the very next day after this picture was taken Freeman died in a T-38 jet crash.
And that underscores what I think is the true value of this book. It's the human story, the many pictures of people and their faces, that is seen here -- not just endless views of cold machinery and rockets and spacecraft in flight. It took the intelligence, leadership, dedication, talents and just plain hard work of hundreds of thousands of people to make Apollo 11 a reality. "Picturing Apollo" does an outstanding job of reminding us that the voyage from the Earth to the Moon was a human undertaking and a shining moment in the history of mankind.
If you can only make one purchase to satisfy your desire to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 this summer -- of all the other books, DVDs, merchandise and very likely just plain junk that will be offered -- buy this book. Proudly display it on your bookshelf and at every opportunity, show it to your children and grandchildren.
- Hardcover: 264 pages
- Publisher: Univ Pr of Florida (30 April 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0813056179
- ISBN-13: 978-0813056173
- Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 2.2 x 27.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 1.2 Kg
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)