Magnificent Desolation; The Long Journey Home from the Moon
New York: Three Rivers Press, 2010. First Paperback Edition [stated]. First printing [stated]. Trade paperback. x, , 336,  pages. Illustrations (some in color). A Note About ShareSpace. Index. Cover has some wear and soiling. Inscribed on half-title by Aldrin. Buzz Aldrin (born Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr., January 20, 1930) is an American engineer and former astronaut. As the Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 11, he was one of the first two humans to land on the Moon, and the second person to walk on it. He is a former U.S. Air Force officer with the Command Pilot rating. He also went into orbit on the Gemini 12 mission, finally achieving the goals for EVA (space-walk work) that paved the way to the Moon and success for the Gemini program. In January 1963, Aldrin earned a Sc.D. degree in astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he had been assigned as a graduate student (under the auspices of the Air Force Institute of Technology) since 1959. His doctoral thesis was Line-of-Sight Guidance Techniques for Manned Orbital Rendezvous. On completion of his doctorate, he was assigned to the Gemini Target Office of the Air Force Space Systems Division in Los Angeles before his selection as an astronaut. Aldrin was chosen for the crew of Apollo 11 and made the first lunar landing with commander Neil Armstrong on July 20, 1969. Aldrin's first words on the Moon were "Beautiful view." Then, in response to Armstrong asking, "Isn't it magnificent?", he responded, "Magnificent desolation." He was also the first person to urinate while on the Moon. Over forty years ago, Buzz Aldrin became the second human, minutes after Neil Armstrong, to set foot on a celestial body other than the Earth. The event remains one of mankind’s greatest achievements and was witnessed by the largest worldwide television audience in history. In the years since, millions more have had their Earth-centric perspective unalterably changed by the iconic photograph of Aldrin standing on the surface of the moon, the blackness of space behind him and his fellow explorer and the Eagle reflected in his visor. Describing the alien world he was walking upon, he uttered the words “magnificent desolation.” And as the astronauts later sat in the Eagle, waiting to begin their journey back home, knowing that they were doomed unless every system and part on board worked flawlessly, it was Aldrin who responded to Mission Control’s clearance to take off with the quip, “Roger. Understand. We’re number one on the runway.”
The flight of Apollo 11 made Aldrin one of the most famous persons on our planet, yet few people know the rest of this true American hero’s story. In Magnificent Desolation, Aldrin not only gives us a harrowing first-person account of the lunar landing that came within seconds of failure and the ultimate insider’s view of life as one of the superstars of America’s space program, he also opens up with remarkable candor about his more personal trials–and eventual triumphs–back on Earth. From the glory of being part of the mission that fulfilled President Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon before the decade was out, Aldrin returned home to an Air Force career stripped of purpose or direction, other than as a public relations tool that NASA put to relentless use in a seemingly nonstop world tour. The twin demons of depression and alcoholism emerged–the first of which Aldrin confronted early and publicly, and the second of which he met with denial until it nearly killed him. He burned through two marriages, his Air Force career came to an inglorious end, and he found himself selling cars for a living when he wasn’t drunkenly wrecking them. Redemption came when he finally embraced sobriety, gained the love of a woman, Lois, who would become the great joy of his life, and dedicated himself to being a tireless advocate for the future of space exploration–not only as a scientific endeavor but also as a thriving commercial enterprise.
These days Buzz Aldrin is enjoying life with an enthusiasm that reminds us how far it is possible for a person to travel, literally and figuratively. As an adventure story, a searing memoir of self-destruction and self-renewal, and as a visionary rallying cry to once again set our course for Mars and beyond, Magnificent Desolation is the thoroughly human story of a genuine hero. Condition: Good.
Keywords: Astronauts, NASA, Alcoholism, Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, Lunar Landing, Depression, Michael Collins, ShareSpace Foundation, Space Exploration, Space Tourism, Space Shuttle