The best books on the history of space exploration that inspired Ocean of Storms

Christopher Mari Author Of Ocean of Storms
By Christopher Mari

The Books I Picked & Why

A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts

By Andrew Chaikin

Book cover of A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts

Why this book?

If there was one book that got my coauthor Jeremy and I to start thinking about a novel based on a return to the Moon, it was this one. Chaikin’s classic history on the entire Apollo program looks at how NASA successfully landed astronauts on the lunar surface between 1969 and 1972. Chaikin’s book is not a dry history but a thrilling, in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at how the missions were proposed, conceived, and executed. A must-read for lovers of history, space exploration, science, and even science fiction.


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Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space

By John W. Young, James R. Hansen

Book cover of Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space

Why this book?

The autobiography of John Young is almost a history of NASA itself since he began his career there in 1962 and retired from it in 2004. Young was the only astronaut to fly two Gemini missions, two Apollo missions, and two Space Shuttle missions. His book covers all of the various challenges the U.S. space agency faced during that period, and he also touches on the future of spaceflight up until 2012, when the book was published.


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First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong

By James R. Hansen

Book cover of First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong

Why this book?

Neil Armstrong was an American hero not just because of his skills as a pilot during the Korean War or because of his prowess as an astronaut or by becoming the first man in history to touch the lunar surface. He is a hero because he did all of those things without ever bragging or seeking to make a profit from his success. His commitment to duty, as well as his sacrifice and humility, are lessons for every generation. 


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Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13

By Jim Lovell, Jeffrey Kluger

Book cover of Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13

Why this book?

Most everyone who loves space exploration has probably seen the Tom Hanks movie Apollo 13, about the mission on which all three astronauts nearly lost their lives while heading to the Moon. This book is co-written by Jim Lovell, who commanded Apollo 13, and describes in page-turning detail both what occurred onboard and in Mission Control as everyone scrambled to save the crew’s lives. Fantastic stuff. 


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The Right Stuff

By Tom Wolfe

Book cover of The Right Stuff

Why this book?

This book, Wolfe’s dramatized interpretation of the Mercury 7, the first American astronauts, was my first “grown-up” look at the U.S. space program. It gave me an understanding of these men and their times unlike anything I had previously experienced.


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