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.
"From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Buzz Aldrin (b. 1930) is an American astronaut, and the second person to walk on the Moon. Born in Montclair, New Jersey, he turned down a full scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in favor of an education at West Point Academy, where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. After receiving a commission by the United States Air Force (USAF), Aldrin flew sixty-six combat missions during the Korean War, after which he continued his education at MIT before becoming an astronaut in 1963. Unlike most of the others chosen for that role, Aldrin was never a test pilot, but attracted the attention of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with his success in the USAF and his graduate work at MIT. Aldrin flew on Gemini 12, and was selected--along with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins--for Apollo 11, the first mission to the surface of the Moon. Since retiring from NASA, he has done charity work and written numerous books, including "Encounter with Tiber" (1996), his first science fiction novel.
Ken Abraham is the author of the # 1 New York Times bestselling Let s Roll with Lisa Beamer, as well as the author of Payne Stewart with Tracey Stewart.
"Buzz Aldrin relives the Magnificent Desolation of space, and the soul-sucking depression that awaited back home."
–Vanity Fair, “Hot Type”
"An admirable account of an icon of the golden age of space flight."
“Space fans, in particular, will cheer.”
“Aldrin presents a no-holds-barred account of how his celebrity, career and human weaknesses nearly destroyed his life….This inspiring story exhibits Aldrin as a different, perfectly human kind of hero, giving readers a sympathetic look at a man eclipsed by his own legend.”
“Buzz Aldrin relives the Magnificent Desolation of space, and the soul-sucking depression that awaited back home."
–Vanity Fair, “Hot Type”
“Leads the field of new releases.The candid portrayal of his earthly battles—often written with great humor—make this a cut above the rest….Great holiday reading.”
“Captivating….an engaging first-hand account by one of history’s most important explorers.”
–Alive East Bay