COUNTDOWN: An Autobiography by Frank with Robert J. Sealing Borman

COUNTDOWN: An Autobiography

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Mostly lumbering account of life in the skies and behind the desk, by the former astronaut and past president of Eastern Airlines. Although Borman has been to the moon, there's little celestial music in his tale, just a mundane account of a self-described ""strictly straight-arrow"" career. Born in Indiana, he spent his boyhood catching gophers and building model airplanes. West Point followed, then a successful military career pursued with Type A+ intensity, in the early 60's, Borman joined the Gemini astronauts. His remarks about the space program offer little beyond old-hat memories and salutes to the ""sacred obligations"" of the astronauts (one exception being his grim account of the capsule fire that killed three astronauts; another, his reflections on the toll of this high-risk life on the astronauts' wives). The years at Eastern benefit by covering less familiar territory, and provide a highly placed insider's account of industry reshuffling. Here, Borman sounds off about hypocritical labor unions and sloppy management. The few sparks come fron Borman's starched-collar views: he admires Haldeman and Nixon, blasts college professors of the late 1960's as ""helpless nerds"" and Carl Sagan as a ""self-promoter,"" savages the film of The Right Stuff for its ""hatchet job"" on LBJ. The book's one chance at greatness--Borman's appraisal of his own obsessive careerism and its effect on his family--goes nowhere beyond some exceedingly faint mea culpas. Thanks to a life powered by boundless ambition, Saturn rockets, and corporate wheeling-dealing, this makes it off the launch pad. But despite the assistance of old pro novelist Serling (The President's Plane is Missing), it doesn't come close to reaching the moon. Premature splashdown.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1988
Publisher: Morrow