Carrying the Fire

By Michael Collins,

Book cover of Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys

Book description

Reissued with a new preface by the author on the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 journey to the moon

The years that have passed since Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins piloted the Apollo 11 spacecraft to the moon in July 1969 have done nothing to alter the…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked Carrying the Fire as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This is one book I couldn’t put down. Even though Michael Collins might be considered one of the "forgotten” astronauts (as the lone astronaut from the seminal Apollo 11 mission who didn’t get to land on the moon), his book provides an amazing and amusing look at what it’s like to be an astronaut.

His conversational writing style is engaging, witty, and insightful, and I loved his self-deprecating humor. I classify this book as the best astronaut biography ever written and Collins as one of the most endearing icons in history.

While researching our book, Zach and I read dozens of astronaut memoirs. I hate to say it, but most of them were incredibly dull. Astronauts are brilliant and hard-working, but that doesn’t necessarily make them good writers. Many of their books are filled with technical details that must only be interesting to fellow engineers.

This book stood out to me because Collins is a genuinely incredible writer and storyteller. Collins was one of three astronauts aboard Apollo 11 and was the only one who didn’t get to touch down on the Moon. 

From Kelly's list on being an astronaut.

Written by the command module pilot of the first lunar landing mission, this book appeals to me if only for the author’s lament that “the space program needed more English majors.” Terrific, where do I sign up?

Of the many astronaut memoirs, this is by far the most eloquently written. The late Mr. Collins’ command of the language and narrative skill provides a deeply personal glimpse into experiences few humans have had, in particular being left alone to orbit the moon while his Apollo 11 crewmates landed on its surface. Narratives of hair-raising spacewalks on the Gemini 10 mission and…

From Patrick's list on space history that read like novels.

Michael Collins walked in space on the Gemini 10 mission in 1966, and three years later orbited the Moon as the Command Module Pilot on Apollo 11. But in addition to being an adventurous and thoroughly competent astronaut, Collins was also a fabulous writer. Detailed, evocative, thoughtful–philosophical, even, and often subtly humorous–Michael Collins weaves a fascinating story about his experiences on Earth and in space. If you only ever read one book penned by an astronaut, make it this one. It’s almost as good as being in space yourself.

Mike Collins wrote this book not for commercial success — although he got that — but because the poet inside him demanded it. He describes his whole astronaut career, but the narrative really takes off when he switches to the present tense to describe his very exciting flight in 1966 on Gemini 10 with John Young, and again, when he comes to Apollo 11. On that mission, he was the astronaut who waited alone in moon orbit while Neil and Buzz flew down to the surface in the Lunar Module. As poet/pilot he gives us both the intricacy and the…

From Don's list on by Apollo insiders.

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