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MICHAEL COLLINS by James  Buckley Jr.


From the Discovering History's Heroes series

by James Buckley Jr.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5344-2480-7
Publisher: Aladdin

A profile of Apollo 11’s pilot as a hero who “just did his job.”

Buckley’s account is shot through with references to working, having jobs to do, and tackling “chore after chore.” It covers Collins’ test-pilot and astronaut trainings, his experiences in space both in Gemini 10 and as the third man aboard Apollo 11 (where, at times, in lunar orbit, “he was the most isolated person in human history”), plus later gigs as writer, artist, and Smithsonian administrator. Though pointedly noting that NASA didn’t hire an astronaut of color until 1967 nor a woman until 1978, the author generally steers clear of controversy, even quoting Armstrong’s line as “That’s one small step for a man” without comment. He also presupposes so little prior knowledge from his intended audience that along with minimizing technical details he feels compelled to explain who Adam and Charlie Brown are. With the lack of illustrations further distancing modern readers from events, the resulting narrative reads as a bland tribute, particularly next to Bea Uusma Schyffert’s lively The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon (2003) and Collins’ own memoir for younger readers, Flying to the Moon and Other Strange Places (1976; republished in 2019 as Flying to the Moon: An Astronaut’s Story).

Serviceable but sparkless.

(endnotes, bibliography) (Biography. 9-11)