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A spaceman delivers an overlong chronicle of his adventures that may prove engaging to ardent space fans.

An astronaut’s memoir from “a small-town boy from Nebraska—nothing special, just an ordinary American.”

Retired astronaut Anderson spent more than 38 hours spacewalking and five months on the International Space Station (“ISS”—acronyms proliferate at NASA and in his book). The athletic former Boy Scout from Nebraska, previously employed as an engineer at the Johnson Space Center, finally landed the coveted job as astronaut after 15 years of annual applications. After his acceptance, Anderson underwent rigorous preparation in jets, on mountainside treks, and in prolonged periods underwater. He learned Russian and trained in Star City, located outside Moscow, in order to work on the ISS. The stressful, rigid toil paid off, and the author delivers graphic descriptions of the sensations experienced during liftoff into space and life in orbit, including annoyances that were expressed perhaps a bit too freely to colleagues on Earth. He was not listed for future long-duration flights. Better were conversations in space with his wife and children who, throughout the book, receive heartfelt expressions of his enduring love. The author also frequently registers his Christian faith. Some NASA arcana, like mission commemorative patches, will interest true space buffs, and Anderson seems eager to answer predictable questions regarding bodily functions in space. He announces, more than once, his pride in the “incredible opportunities” to “poop in four different spacecraft!” He goes into considerable detail about that opportunity and natural human bowel movements in general. Indeed, the author is prideful in several areas, including his modesty and humanity in the face of stresses and dangers. Throughout, Anderson seeks to maintain an upbeat tone. However, underneath the brave bonhomie, there is occasional snarky, artificial gravitas, and the geniality sours just a bit.

A spaceman delivers an overlong chronicle of his adventures that may prove engaging to ardent space fans.

Pub Date: June 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8032-6282-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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