Summary and book reviews of John Glenn by John Glenn

John Glenn

A Memoir

by John Glenn, Nick Taylor

John Glenn
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  • First Published:
    Nov 1999, 422 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2000, 576 pages

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Book Summary

This extraordinary book captures the unique alchemy that brings a man to the forefront of his time.

He was the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. Nearly four decades later, as the world's oldest astronaut, his courage riveted a nation. But these two historic events only bracket a life that covers the sweep of an extraordinary century. In this engrossing book, John Glenn tells the story of his unique life--one lived at the center of a momentous time in history by a man who helped shape that history.

He is the kind of hero who resists being called a hero. And yet his exploits in the service of his country, his dedication to family and friends, and his rock-ribbed traditional values have made this small-town boy from the Midwest a true American icon.

John Glenn's autobiography spans the seminal events of the twentieth century. It is a story that begins with his childhood in New Concord, Ohio, in the aftermath of World War I. It was there that he learned the importance of family, community, and patriotism. Glenn saw firsthand the ravages of the Depression and learned that determination, hard work, and teamwork could overcome any adversity. These were the values he carried with him as a Marine fighter pilot during World War II and into the skies over Korea, for which he would be decorated for his courage, dedication, and sacrifice. Glenn flew missions with men he would never forget, from baseball great Ted Williams to little-known heroes who would never return to their families. Always a gifted flier, it was during the war that he contemplated the unlimited possibilities of aviation and its next frontiers: speed and space.

John Glenn takes us into the cockpits of the experimental planes and spacecraft he flew to experience the pulse-pounding excitement of the early days of jet aviation, including his record-setting transcontinental flight in an F8U Crusader in 1957, and then on to his selection for the Project Mercury program in 1959. We see the early days of NASA, where he first served as a backup pilot for astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom and helped refine some of the initial cockpit and control designs for the Apollo program. In 1962 Glenn piloted the Mercury-Atlas 6 Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first manned orbital mission of the United States. Then came several years in international business, followed by a twenty-four-year career as a U.S. senator--and in 1998 a return to space for his remarkable Discovery mission at the age of seventy-seven.

This extraordinary book captures the unique alchemy that brings a man to the forefront of his time. Married to a woman he first met when they were both toddlers, known for his integrity, common sense, and leadership in the Senate, John Glenn tells a story that we must hear. For this narrative of steadfastness, devotion, courage, and honor is both a great adventure tale and a source of powerful inspiration for an age that needs John Glenn's values more than ever before.

PATRIOTISM FILLED THE AIR of New Concord, the small eastern Ohio town where I grew up. Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Armistice Day were flag-waving holidays of parades and salutes to the United States and to the soldiers, living and dead, who had fought for freedom and democracy.

My father was one of those soldiers. He served in France during World War I, delivering artillery shells to the front on trucks and horse-drawn caissons, and he came home partially deaf from a cannon blast but otherwise unharmed. He also was a bugler. He blew the bugle for reveille and taps, for mail call and mess call, and when the flag was raised.

At home, on those patriotic days that I remember, Dad was again called upon to play the bugle. He marched in the parade formations when the local veterans from the Thirty-seventh Ohio Division marched down Main Street on Armistice Day, and played the colors when they raised the flag at the American Legion hall at the end of the parade. But the ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Library Journal

John Glenn's life story reads like a Frank Capra movie: Small-town Ohio boy weathers the Depression nurtured by conservative patriotic values, marries his high school sweetheart, flies combat missions in two wars, is selected as one of the original Mercury astronauts, becomes an instant national hero as the first American to orbit the earth, is elected to the Senate, and, after serving for four terms, improbably returns to space aboard the Shuttle at age 77. Glenn's account of his storybook life rings as true as his All-American Boy Scout image that Tom Wolfe caricatured in The Right Stuff. Yet even Glenn's long career was not totally immune from the hint of scandal, as he recounts his tangential role in the Keating S&L scandal. Still, in the current national climate, Glenn's account of his life and times provides a refreshing contrast to the public cynicism that all too often attaches to public figures. Recommended.

Booklist - Gilbert Taylor

Readers will opine on Glenn's politics according to their wont, but nostalgia for his uncomplicated courage and patriotism will create waiting lists for his reminiscences.

Kirkus Reviews

Despite the simple, even pedestrian writing, Glenns story of how he became a throwback to the heroic age of discovery is enduringly thrilling.

Publishers Weekly

Glenn's utterly plainspoken yet thrilling autobiography will put a lump in readers' throats.

Reader Reviews

Mark_Bledsoe

An entertaing read about a true American hero.

Anonymous
Nick
Hello to all my Astronaut fans. This is a good good book. Not great , as the ones done by Deke Slayton, Jim Lovell, and Mike Collins.
Glenn...was a good pilot. To me however he was not a great astronaut...despite the amount of effort he put into ...   Read More

Anonymous
Brenda Castor Higgins
I am from John Glenn's hometown, New Concord, OH. John's wife, Annie, is my father's first cousin. Since I know both John & Annie I naturally wanted to read his book. I found it extremely interesting and in-depth. It is a ...   Read More

Anonymous
Deneese
This is an incredible book about an incredible man! Senator Glenn gives personal details that make me admire and respect him even more than I already did. He gives wonderful "inside information" about the NASA programs he was ...   Read More

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