In the spaceflight history canon, there are biographies and autobiographies that almost depict their subjects as secondary characters in their own lives (not a criticism – for example, James R. Hansen’s First Man delves into many of the central characters in Neil Armstrong’s life and career), and books that function almost as treacly love letters to their subjects (Buzz Aldrin’s Magnificent Desolation). In addition, as the previous sentence proves, many spaceflight biographical sketches focus upon astronauts’ lives (this doesn’t discount the many fine books about rocket pioneers and flight controllers, but the genre is astronaut-gaga).
Michael Cassutt’s The Astronaut Maker represents a refreshing departure in the genre, discussing a spaceflight figure who has been described as “mysterious,” controversial, and as “the ultimate insider.” While George Abbey may have not been an astronaut (alas, he did submit an application for the 1966 class), his still-ongoing spaceflight career, like it or not, shaped many decisions from the 1960s to the early 2000s. (Note: minor book spoilers included.)
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