Wow. What a story. What a book!
The Right Stuff covers the story of the “Mercury Seven,” the first 7 U.S. astronauts to go into space. I knew very little of this story. Tom Wolfe masterfully pulled it all together highlighting the lives of these 7 men, the political battle and ramifications for the “space race” between the USA and Russia, the reality on the ground compared to how the press presented it, and how these men came to be viewed as protectors of the American people, single combat warriors in the vein of David vs. Goliath.
I can’t imagine having had lived through this period of history. Tom Wolfe talks about grown men crying in the presence of the astronauts (including Joe Kennedy, father of JFK). The live radio broadcasts of the launches being so engaging that drivers pulled over to the side of the road so as to give their full attention. These astronauts being vaulted to a level so exalted that we have not seen anything similar sense (with perhaps the exception of Neil Armstrong). Astronaut wives having to deal with the unbelievable pressure of watching their husbands to into space on TV just like everyone else and then being expected to discuss it with the world immediately after.
I don’t know what else to say about this book other than that you just need to read it. I want you to experience it.
This is easily one of the most entertaining, enlightening, and engaging books I have ever read.