First Man

The Life of Neil A. Armstrong

    • 4.3 • 71 Ratings
    • $13.99
    • $13.99

Publisher Description

Marking the forty-fifth anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing, First Man by James Hansen offers the only authorized glimpse into the life of America’s most famous astronaut, Neil Armstrong—the man whose “one small step” changed history.

“The Eagle has landed.”

When Apollo 11 touched down on the moon’s surface in 1969, the first man on the moon became a legend. In First Man, Hansen explores the life of Neil Armstrong. Based on over fifty hours of interviews with the intensely private Armstrong, who also gave Hansen exclusive access to private documents and family sources, this “magnificent panorama of the second half of the American twentieth century” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) is an unparalleled biography of an American icon.

Upon his return to earth, Armstrong was honored and celebrated for his monumental achievement. He was also—as James R. Hansen reveals in this fascinating and important biography—misunderstood. Armstrong’s accomplishments as engineer, test pilot, and astronaut have long been a matter of record, but Hansen’s unprecedented access to private documents and unpublished sources and his interviews with more than 125 subjects (including more than fifty hours with Armstrong himself) yield this first in-depth analysis of an elusive American celebrity still renowned the world over.

In a riveting narrative filled with revelations, Hansen vividly recreates Armstrong’s career in flying, from his seventy-eight combat missions as a naval aviator flying over North Korea to his formative transatmospheric flights in the rocket-powered X-15 to his piloting Gemini VIII to the first-ever docking in space. These milestones made it seem, as Armstrong’s mother Viola memorably put it, “as if from the very moment he was born—farther back still—that our son was somehow destined for the Apollo 11 mission.”

For a pilot who cared more about flying to the Moon than he did about walking on it, Hansen asserts, Armstrong’s storied vocation exacted a dear personal toll, paid in kind by his wife and children. For the forty-five years since the Moon landing, rumors have swirled around Armstrong concerning his dreams of space travel, his religious beliefs, and his private life.

In a penetrating exploration of American hero worship, Hansen addresses the complex legacy of the First Man, as an astronaut and as an individual. In First Man, the personal, technological, epic, and iconic blend to form the portrait of a great but reluctant hero who will forever be known as history’s most famous space traveler.

Biographies & Memoirs
October 18
Simon & Schuster

Customer Reviews

Hoosiersox ,

Great Book!

Interesting that the other review on this site rates this book one star and then comments "I haven't read it." incredible! This is the definitive Armstrong biography, a NY Times Bestseller, which has received overwhelmingly positive reviews. It's a great read that anyone interested in the history of aeronautics and space exploration will find fascinating.

Alegandron ,


I was just 10 years old staying up the night watching Apollo 11 land with Armstrong and Aldrin walking on the Moon. I remember thinking that Mike Collins missed out on the walk, but realized at a young age at how important his job truly was also. I began to truly grasp the concept of "Team" from that experience.

I enjoyed the space program buildup...the Gemini Missions, (I was too young to really remember the Mercury program), Apollo 1, 7, 8, 9, 10...then the massive anticipation of Apollo 11.

However, my most vivid memory was when my Great Grandfather, born in the 1880's, was watching the Landing. He told me that he grew up in my hometown, where there was no electricity and everyone travelled by horse and buggy. As I sat there listening to him about his childhood, it struck me deeply how much we, as humans, truly leapt from horse-and-buggy to walking on the Moon WITHIN one lifetime! I am proud that my lifetime paralelled such great people that made the Moon Landings possible.

IYogiI ,

First Man

I was 6. I still remember looking out at the moon and knowing that there was in fact men walking around up there. It was a life forming event that drew me down the path to be an engineer and scientist. At age 6 I was convinced there would be an opportunity for me to ride the rocket myself. Now I look for my children to have that opportunity.

Me? I'm happy that those lucky few bother to record their thoughts and experiences so that I may in a smaller way live them. In reading this book, I was questioning the exhausting details of orbital mechanics, all the menutia of who these me were ... but then it all drew together as essential information that enriched the understanding of those magical events. I felt like i was with Mr Armstong, in a first person experience.

Not everyone will get from this what I did. But perhaps you will find things of a different sort. It's a rich read and I really loved it.

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