Moon landing is out of this world

“Magnificent Desolation” by Buzz Aldrin with Ken Abraham, c. 2009, Harmony Books, $27, 326 pages, includes index.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2009 2:57am
  • Life

The Bookworm

“Magnificent Desolation” by Buzz Aldrin with Ken Abraham, c. 2009, Harmony Books, $27, 326 pages, includes index.

Imagine that you went to work one day and changed the world.

Becoming a celebrity, you knew, was inevitable but you didn’t fully anticipate the extent: parades, TV appearances, crowds of fans intent on touching your sleeve. Meals interrupted by paparazzi. Privacy and quiet, a memory.

And while your family wasn’t exactly thrilled with this attention and it got pretty tiresome, one thing bothered you more than anything. It was a question you couldn’t stop asking yourself.

What do I do next?

In the new book “Magnificent Desolation” by Buzz Aldrin (with Ken Abraham), you’ll read an account of the first historic moon landing and its effect on the life of the second man on the moon.

Forty years ago, much of the entire world was mesmerized by what they saw on TV. From a short ladder attached to a spider-like capsule, two men, one after the other, stepped onto the moon. Neil Armstrong, because he was closer to the door, was first to set foot on the lunar surface. Buzz Aldrin, who outranked Armstrong but sat farthest from the module’s opening, went next.

This was, Aldrin remembers, a scientific journey. Though their mission was to collect specimens from the moon’s surface, Aldrin says he wanted to experiment further but frivolity wasn’t the reason for being in space. That lack of opportunity bothered him for many years to come.

The moonwalk made Aldrin, Armstrong and fellow astronaut Michael Collins instantly famous. After a month-long quarantine, the three were whisked away for celebratory parades, meetings with heads of state and visits abroad. The frenzy appears, in this book, to have boggled Aldrin’s mind.

But once the adoration died down, Aldrin began to ask himself, “What next?”

NASA “pretty much closed the door” and a job at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School didn’t work out. His small salary from the government wasn’t enough to live on and Aldrin “dabbled” with inventions based on his space walk. Soon, he fell into a deep depression and began drinking. His first wife left him and a second marriage didn’t last long.

Finally, with the help of friends and the “love of (my) life,” Aldrin pulled himself out of the black space he’d fallen into.

For millions of kids and former kids, being an astronaut sounds so exciting. But before you run out and get fitted for a flight suit, read this eye-opening book.

Aldrin doesn’t brag about his place in history, but he has a few complaints about it. He’s open about his past and his problems and he takes responsibility. He discusses his efforts for space tourism and more exploratory ideas for the future of NASA. And he bluntly (and quite angrily) addresses conspiracy theorists who think the whole moon landing was a sham.

If you, too, were glued to the TV on that night 40 years ago, or if you always wanted to do a real moonwalk, read this book. For historians and astronaut wannabes, “Magnificent Desolation” is out of this world.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with her two dogs and 9,500 books.

More in Life

If you could turn back time, would you?

If you could, would you take it all back? Every misunderstanding, cross… Continue reading

While focusing on athletic endurance, this book also relates to everyday life

You need a shave. It’s been awhile and, though you’ve been grooming… Continue reading

Explores the Civil Rights Movement with Congressman John Lewis | Pierce County READS

Congressman Lewis of Georgia is one of the key figures of the Civil Rights Movement and the only remaining speaker alive from the Big Six Leaders that organized the 1963 March on Washington.

Enumclaw High hosts 7th annual Empty Bowls event

The event, held at Enumclaw High School, will help fund the Enumclaw Food Bank and Plateau Outreach Ministries.

Read the first two books before tackling ‘Banished’

Well, look at you. And you do — ten times a day,… Continue reading

Buckley Kiwanis names Students of the Month

For January, students from White River High School, Glacier Middle School and Carbonado Historical School District were chosen.

Local students named to WSU honor roll

Students from Black Diamond to Sumner found themselves on WSU’s President’s Honor Roll.

It may take time to sink into but ‘How to Stop Time’ is worth the read

The big hand is on the “12.” And the little hand is,… Continue reading

Breakfast for the Birds coming Feb. 21

Celebrate the coming of spring with breakfast, fun hats and Ciscoe Morris.

With help from ‘The Grumpy Gardener,’ you can prepare for spring | The Bookworm

Normally, you’d never allow it. Holes in your yard? No way! Trenches… Continue reading

How to keep The Courier-Herald visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections, and you might see less news. Here’s how you can fix that.