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3.0 out of 5 stars
- Fills a Gap in Manned Spaceflight History
By Have Read Them All on February 7, 2009

This is a difficult book to review. Having read every astronaut biography, I was unsure what to expect, particularly because a "sameness" has crept into so many of these bios: smalltown boy unintentionally develops a love for flying, joins the military in the Cold War years, is captivated by the early Space Race and ends up joining NASA, before struggling to master "astro-politics".

Initially, this book follows a familiar (if increasingly tiresome) theme about childhood and military service before NASA. The difference is the detail with which Carr records some parts of his story. He gives a good account of what it was like moving through the military in the 1950s/1960s.

Likewise the account of the NASA years follows a familiar theme; the difference here being that it is told by one of the astronauts who 'lost the Moon' because of cuts to the later Apollo lunar flights. This is a truly interesting part of the book, and it is the first time this has been covered in an astro-biography. It is, however, quite annoying to see a number of photos of Irwin on the Moon on Apollo 15 with the caption "this might have been Carr, if Apollo 19 had flown" (because 19 was destined for Hadley/Appenine before sites were re-allocated after the cuts).

Carr gives a good perspective on the difference/separation between the Apollo and Skylab programs in the 1969/70 period when, after Apollo 19 was cancelled and he was assigned to Skylab, he realised how little he knew - or had reason to know - about Skylab. Frankly, he had no need to because up until then he was, in his words, a "lunar landing man" focused solely on the lunar program, so to him Skylab was invisible and (although it is not said in so many words) considered less important.

5.0 out of 5 stars - Around the World in 84 Days: Very well Researched, but the Voice of the Astronaut is the Gold
By Peter Thorpe on March 18, 2009

I love well documented NASA historical stuff. The Apollo missions have had vast documentation, but there is much less for Skylab, which followed the lunar landings. Now we have a really great book about Skylab. David Shayler, a British space historian, has done a wonderful job of telling the story of Jerry Carr, commander of Skylab IV, the final mission in 1973-74 to the orbital outpost which lasted 84 days and set all sorts of records. Shayler provides decades of research in an easily readable fashion.

However, it is Jerry Carr's comments, presented as current reminisces but also as actual diary entries from the mission, that really makes this a fantastic read. Carr talks about his childhood, his Marine flight training, joining NASA, and his frustration at losing the chance at Apollo 19 (Apollo 17 was the last flight to the Moon, the planned missions 18 and 19 were canceled). But he got the last Skylab mission, and for the entire mission, he kept a diary. Shayler gives us the entries while explaining the context.

Jerry Carr is not just a 'fly boy', being reported about, but a person who we can relate to. His fascinations and frustrations with commanding a long endurance mission to the Skylab space station is balanced by his own self inspection, his connections to his family, who were supporting him from the ground, and his love of just watching planet Earth out of the windows. Al Bean, Commander of Skylab III, did not want to gaze for hours out the window. But Jerry could not get enough, and while doing so he thought about the fate of his planet and the dynamics of his family at home, and his piers at work (above and below). On top of that, there is a DVD included with the book that contains footage of all the Skylab missions, as well as rare footage of Jerry and fellow astronauts training for both lunar and Skylab Apollo missions.

5.0 out of 5 stars - The SPACE PROGRAM is GREAT!
By Gerard Doran on April 4, 2009

This is a tremendous book. Not a minute of it was boring - The first three month American space flight in '73-'74 was a tremendous thing, (Skylab).
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Around the World in 84 Days