Now a major film starring Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy and Kyle Chandler, directed by Oscar-winner Damien Chazelle, 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.
In First Man, Hansen explores the life of Neil Armstrong. Based on over 50 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.
When Apollo 11 touched down on the moon’s surface in 1969, the first man on the moon became a legend. 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. 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. In the years since the Moon landing, rumors swirled around Armstrong concerning his dreams of space travel, his religious beliefs, and his private life.
This book reveals the man behind the myth. 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.
‘The man was a fine engineer, a good pilot – although there is some dispute about that – patriotic, cool, courageous and hard-working, just the sort of guy you want next to you when the chips are down.'