Booklist Reviews

We know the basics: Apollo 8 was the second manned space mission of NASA's Apollo program and the first space mission in history to orbit the Moon and come back home safely. Kluger, a veteran science writer (and, not incidentally, coauthor of the acclaimed Lost Moon (1994), which became the movie Apollo 13), fills in the details. He focuses on the people who made the Apollo 8 mission happen as much as he focuses on the actual drama of space flight; the lead-up to the mission—the selection of the astronauts, the testing of the equipment, the training—is just as compelling as the flight itself (which takes up only a relatively small portion of the book). Comprehensively detailed, and written with the sure hand of someone who knows his material inside out, the book is guaranteed to be a hit with armchair astronauts, space-program veterans, and all readers in between. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

How NASA defeated the Soviets in the space race by becoming the first country to send three astronauts on a flight to the moon despite what might have been a disastrous setback.Time science editor and senior writer Kluger (The Narcissist Next Door: Understanding the Monster in Your Family, in Your Office, in your Bed—in Your World, 2014 etc.) begins in 1968 with the daring decision to push the flight schedule for Apollo 9 forward and change its itinerary from simply orbiting the Earth to a flight to the moon and back. The author explains that the context for the decision was the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union and President John F. Kennedy's promise to land an American on the moon by 1970. The decision went through despite the fact that only 18 months earlier, three astronauts had been killed in a tragic fire during tests of Apollo 7. Faulty wiring proved to be the cause of the fire, likely as a result of the pressure to meet deadlines. "To the p ilots [testing the ship], the Apollo felt like a slapdash machine," writes Kluger. "It was temperamental, error-prone, and impossible to work with for more than a little while before something broke down." Nonetheless, morale remained high, and the original plan was scrapped. Rather than delay the mission, Apollo 9 would become Apollo 8. The author was fortunate to be able to interview the three astronauts who flew the Apollo 8 mission: Cpt. Jim Lovell, with whom he co-authored the bestseller, Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 (1994); Col. Frank Borman; and Maj. Gen. Bill Anders. Kluger also had access to NASA's Oral History Project, which contains transcripts of conversations during the flight, both inside the spacecraft and between the astronauts and ground control. An enjoyable retelling of one of the momentous American achievements that made the moon landing possible. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews

From Time science editor and senior writer Kluger, also Jim Lovell's coauthor on the best-selling Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13, the story of Apollo 8, humankind's first flight to the moon.

Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Library Journal Reviews

A generation of Americans watched the adventures of astronauts in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs, including the moment in 1969 when Neil Armstrong first stood on the moon as part of Apollo 11. But it took years of trial and error for NASA to achieve this feat. Kluger (senior editor, Time) applies his impressive narrative skills to describe in detail how the Apollo 8 mission achieved its goal of being the first to travel to the moon and return safely to Earth in December 1968. Kluger's tale is sprightly written and profiles members of the crew such as Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders as they carried out their arduous training schedule to meet a launch date that took place only a few weeks after Apollo 7 had concluded. VERDICT An excellent book told with spirit and verve and enough spaceflight details to satisfy even the most dedicated student of the program. [Prepub Alert, 11/1/16.]—Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames

Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

In spare yet vivid prose, Kluger (with Jim Lovell, coauthor of Apollo 13), senior writer at Time, captures the nostalgia and excitement of a "space-drunk nation" in this gripping account of the first lunar mission. Beginning years before the 1968 launch, the story revolves around Apollo 8's crew: Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders. Slated for Apollo 9, they were switched to the first moonshot in an ambitious bid to meet President Kennedy's timetable. Kluger sets the crew's personal histories amid the space race, NASA's early days, and the Gemini 7 program, in which Borman and Lovell orbited Earth in their underwear, eating "lots of fruitcake—packaged like unholy sausage links." Kluger's extensive research and relatable analogies show how "the levers of the great American moon machine were being thrown." Launching a "mass of foil origami" takes a village, and such major players as Chris Kraft as well as the crew's families are brilliantly sketched. Readers will relish Kluger's multisensory prose, and the whole gamut of space flight comes alive in the details. Moreover, extensive interviews lend authenticity to the dialogue and character sketches. Kluger's laudable storytelling novelistically conveys the charged politics of the era while revealing difficult technical concepts. (May)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.