Rocket Men

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Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon
Cover design of Rocket Men
AuthorRobert Kurson
CountryUnited States
SubjectApollo 8[1]
PublisherRandom House
Publication date
3 April 2018
Media typePrint, digital
Pages336 pp (hardcover)
Preceded byPirate Hunters 

Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon is a 2018 nonfiction book by Robert Kurson recounting NASA's 1968 Apollo 8 mission, which was the first manned spacecraft to reach the Moon and return safely to Earth.[2] The book is Kurson's fourth, and it debuted on the New York Times bestseller list.[3]


Kurson drew on hundreds of hours of one-on-one interviews with NASA staff, industry experts, astronauts (including all three Apollo 8 astronauts) and their families as source material for the book.[4][5]

In November 2017 The Martian author Andy Weir reported that he read an advanced copy of Rocket Men.[6]


Rocket Men is an account of the Apollo 8 mission with focus on Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders, the three astronauts aboard during the mission. The book also places an emphasis on the astronauts' families during the mission.[7]

From The Washington Post:

"'Rocket Men' opens in summer 1968, with the space race in high gear. The Soviet Union had already put the world’s first satellite, Sputnik, as well as the first human, Yuri Gagarin, into Earth’s orbit. The Soviets were projected to reach the moon by the end of the year, months ahead of the United States."[8]

The book includes chapters dedicated to each astronaut, the Space Race itself, and background and chronological progress of the mission including critical maneuvers and mission setbacks.[8] It is set against the backdrop of 1968, considered by many to be among the most divisive and violent years in American history.[9]


The book reached #7 on the New York Times bestseller list and has received positive reviews from critics.[3][9][10] The USA Today called Rocket Men a "first-rate account of this remarkable spaceflight" and added, "There are many pieces to the Apollo 8 story, but Kurson brings them together effortlessly."[11] The New York Times called the book "gripping" and "a riveting introduction to the [Apollo 8] flight" in which "Kurson details the mission in crisp, suspenseful scenes."[2] Writing for The Washington Post, Mary Roach compared the book to Alfred Lansing's Endurance and Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air and called Kurson's writing style, "as close to a movie as writing gets."[8]

The film rights to Rocket Men were secured by Makeready prior to the book's publication.[12]


  1. ^ "Author Robert Kurson discusses his book 'Rocket Man'". WGN. 3 April 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  2. ^ a b M. G. Lord (15 May 2018). "The Paradoxes and the Glory of Apollo 8's Journey Around the Moon". New York Times. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Books - Bestsellers - Science". New York Times. 1 May 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  4. ^ "NYT bestselling author Robert Kurson – Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon". Milwaukee Magazine. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  5. ^ "First space mission to the moon recounted in new book". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. 21 May 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Andy Weir: By the Book". New York Times. 17 November 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  7. ^ "2018 BROOKFIELD READS! to Feature Rocket Men by Robert Kurson". Chicago Tribune. 11 April 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Mary Roach (6 April 2018). "Why the hurried mission to orbit the moon before the Soviets was so dangerous". Washington Post. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Review: Rocket Men". Space Review. 16 April 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  10. ^ Michael Hill (17 April 2018). "'Rocket Men' author stops in Highwood Thursday". Chicago Daily Herald. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  11. ^ George Petras (13 April 2018). "Story of Apollo 8's historic 1968 mission soars in Robert Kurson's fine 'Rocket Men'". USA Today. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  12. ^ Nellie Andreeva (4 August 2017). "Makeready Acquires 'Rocket Men' Book About Apollo 8 Mission For TV Adaptation". Deadline. Retrieved 9 July 2018.

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