Moonbound: Apollo 11 and the Dream of Spaceflight
This substantial history makes for an impressive graphic novel. Moonbound: Apollo 11 and the Dream of Spaceflight by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm alternates chapters between the story of the Apollo 11 moon landing (in full color) and topics related to spaceflight (in monochrome). Those latter range greatly, involving a lot more than a technical memoir, including a survey of historical astronomers, a history of rocketry, astronaut training, designing the spacesuits, and the symbolism of the moon to various cultures.
It’s well-drawn, straightforward and easy to read but visually interesting and diverse. I was particularly impressed to see previously-unknown information on the women who trained as astronauts in the 1960s and those who made the computer programming to support the moon launch possible. Yet, for all this, I had to force myself through the book.
I was left cold and uninvolved. It was educational and comprehensive — perhaps too much so. I don’t care about this topic in this much depth, and at times, it felt as though I was cramming for an exam, swamped by the detail. If you are more interested in the history or topic than I am, this is a glorious read.
Moonbound will make an excellent edition to any library and is a thorough resource on the topics it delves into. I hope others enjoy it more than I did, though. (The publisher provided a review copy.)
This does look like a good read for the 50th anniversary of the landing. I’ll have to track down a copy.
Regarding it being too technical and dry, I am wondering how it compares to “13 minutes to the Moon” (a BBC podcast about the moon landing) ? That too is quite technical, but does a good job of conveying how ambitious, dangerous, and exciting the moon landing was.
This review motivated me to get a copy of this book and read it. I had a similar reaction as you did. But I don’t think the reason is that the book packed in too much information. I feel the author did a good job conveying a large amount of information in a small space.
The problem, for me, was the narrative voice. I’m not sure what the author was going for, but the narration served to demystify the space program which undercut the drama and story. Side commentary about how boring the astronauts statements were distracted from the story and I could have done without them. This was especially hard for me to read after listening to “13 Minutes to the Moon” which did all it could to maximize the drama of the moon landing, while not sacrificing technical depth. Consequently, the parts of “Moonbound” that overlapped with “13 Minutes” were my least favorite parts.
Nevertheless, there was some parts of the book that worked well for me. The chapter on ancient views of the moon was fabulous. And the diagram of how the return flight went taught me a lot about the dynamics of space flight.
I would rate this a weak browse, borrowing the review system from “the Beat”.
Thanks for coming back to share your thoughts! Good observations.