Jagged Thoughts | Dr. John Linwood Griffin

December 26, 2018

First Man

Filed under: Opinions,Reviews — JLG @ 9:14 AM

Dear Dr. Hansen,

I was inspired to read your book after seeing First Man in the theater this year. I didn’t realize your Auburn connection until reaching the end of the afterword.

As I read the book I kept remarking to my wife how impressed I was with the phenomenal level of detail you wove into the story. It grabbed me from the moment I picked up the book in the bookstore: I opened it to a random page that happened to be the LM descent, and found myself breathlessly reading about the alarms and fuel and landmarks and preparation and professionalism and touchdown. In the end I had to read your book one chapter at a time, stopping at each new chapter heading from the exhaustion of detail I felt.

I’ve abstractly known what it meant for hundreds of thousands of people to have worked on the Apollo and earlier programs but it finally clicked into concrete realization as I read your descriptions of guidance alignments and overpressurized fuel lines and crushed foam and low sun angles and loping gaits — how teams of teams, collectively of incomprehensible size, engineered those landings. Your research and writing transported me to the 1960s, sitting in an offsite support room with a slide rule and earnestness and naïveté and a mission, in much the same way that reading Patrick O’Brian transports me onto the deck in a rolling sea at the height of the Napoleonic Wars.

And, as someone who wanted to be an astronaut his whole life, I walked away from your book understanding for the first time the terrible burden that “heroism” placed on the astronaut corps of that era.

I commend you on your work. Thank you.

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