Although I don’t really own a coffee table, this is one of those “coffee table books” that I just couldn’t pass by. While there are a great many books on the Apollo space program, the authors took a unique approach with this one and created something truly special. It tells the story of the many people who contributed to Apollo’s achievements through a collection of stunning photographs. Each image is paired with a short commentary by the astronaut who selected it, explaining the significance of that particular moment captured in time. Through this approach, the book manages to give a very personal account of an historic achievement, and really brings home the point why it was such a defining moment in human history for all who witnessed it.
Being an historical account – and a piece of art all in itself – this book is likely to remain on proud display in your living room for many years. I’ve had it on my bookshelf for just about a month now, and its format is so accessible that visitors of all ages (from toddlers to grandparents) can’t help but reach for it and start flipping the large pages. Did I mention it is gorgeous? Because it really is stunning.
One particularly striking aspect that is directly hinted on by the title, is the book’s ability to put you behind the eyes of the astronauts and make you feel like it is you peering out through the gold-tinted visor of that spacesuit. While I suspect nothing can truly replicate the experience of walking another world in person, viewing the panoramic images paired with their first-hand commentary will get you as close as humanly possible. Forget virtual reality – this book contains the soul of the people who were there! It features moments of steely determination as they confronted the terrifying scope of what they had set out to do, all the way to the exuberance and overwhelming pride of accomplishment upon safely returning to humanity’s home after having sailed the vastness of space. It is this special emotional connection which makes this book special and so hard to put away for anybody who opens it.
If I had the resources to do so, I would put this book into the hands of every student who ever felt bored with the pursuit of knowledge, dragging herself through another class of pre-calculus; it would single-handedly be responsible for making science the most popular field of study of this generation – it really is that good.