Books in Review
by Adrienne Petterson 2005

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Rocket Man - Astronaut Pete Conrad's Incredible Ride to the Moon and Beyond
by Nancy Conrad and Howard A. Klausner
New American Library (NAL)
ISBN 0-451-21509-5
Published May 2005 - Hardcover - 301 pages - $24.95

This was a man with a need for speed.  From a young age, Charles "Pete" Conrad was into all things mechanical, be it radio parts, engines, or just something he could build.  Born into a wealthy family whose fortune would dwindle, and having dyslexia which he fought through school (the posh Haverford), and being slight in stature, Conrad nevertheless had that survival instinct and belief in himself that he was clever and would do great things.  After having been asked to leave Haverford School, his mother arranged for him to attend Darrow.  By now his home life had changed and apart from a few teenage rebellious acts, Pete was a well-liked young man and had an interest in planes - he had a summer job at Paoli Airfield.  Having come to the rescue of one Margaret Lowell's downed plane because of a frozen choke on her Piper J-3, and him fixing it, is how young Conrad started flying lessons - instead of taking the $10.00 he was offered for fixing Ms. Lowell's choke.  He had a natural ability when he discovered that there was a "system for flying" and thought, "why couldn't there be a system for learning?"  He went on to make the honor roll and then secured a Naval Scholarship to Princeton - the inaugural Aeronautical Engineering Progam.  The story then tells of his selection (and the arduous process) for the race to space in Apollo 12 along with Al Bean and Dick Gordon.  Soon Pete Conrad became the third man in history to walk on the moon.  The book is a little disjointed to start with as the story jumps from past to the future (at the time, 1996, they were trying to break the record - around the world - 24,000 miles in under 50 hours in a business-class jet) and back again as the chapters progress.  Written by Conrad's widow and screenwriter Klausner.
Conclusion - Very interesting without being too technical as I thought it might have been.


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