We Seven: The Classic Story of the Heroes who Launched America Into Space, by the Astronauts Themselves

My Copy: 9781439181034 (image from Simon and Schuster .com)

I was pretty excited to read this book after I found it in the source notes from The Right Stuff…and it gives me some insight as to the limitations The Right Stuff had in its own narrative.

We Seven, by the Astronauts themselves, is a collection of autobiographical writings by–you guessed it–the seven Mercury astronauts before and after their respective missions. You might wonder how technical it all gets, and trust me, it’s really technical, but these guys are pretty good at explaining something and trying to make the concepts of space flight and delays, plans and changes, easier to grasp.

And it works.

We seven sets up each astronaut through the selection process and some of the testing before the big reveal, and some of the flights. I am more than a little annoyed that when it came to the flights, they focused on Al, Gus, Glenn, and Carpenter. Deke, unfortunately, didn’t get a flight, and I’d have loved to get a chapter with his take on the situation and what he contributed the rest of the time (I’m sure he put a helluva lot in), and then Wally Schirra and Gordo Cooper. There’s no real mention of their space flights; the book ends with Carpenter’s.

Okay, forget a little annoyed. I’m very annoyed about that, because I wanted to know more. Schirra isn’t talked about much and Gordo Cooper did 22 orbits around the Earth–what was it like for him to be up there so long? And alone? I’d love to have learned more about that.

But maybe there’s another book out there with those stories. I still think it’s a great resource to use to learn more about the beginnings of the space race and what the astronauts thought about the whole thing, and their attitude.

Great work of history…just made me too eager to read even more, I guess.

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