Rocket Man: The Mercury Adventure of John Glenn
Although the risks of such a mission for Friendship 7 were well known, no one including Glenn knew the peril he was about to encounter in space. John Glenn was one of the Mercury 7 astronauts, the early pioneers of manned space flight. His historic flight followed years of intensive physical training and a devotion to a career in the exciting but risk-filled world of aviation.
Ruth Ashby’s dramatic story of John Glenn’s near-disastrous mission in Friendship 7 also takes young readers through his small-town Ohio childhood, his extraordinary experiences as a fighter pilot in two wars, and his life as an astronaut in the prestigious and dangerous Mercury 7 program. The book concludes with Glenn’s successful career as a U.S. senator and his triumphant return to space in 1998 at the age of 77.
The mix of personal and public events makes this even more intriguing. While I generally like more chronologically arranged biographies, there is a good annotated timeline at the back of the book to help navigate the narrative if necessary. It was fun to see glimpses of Glenn earning money to get a bike for a paper route in order to help his family, and the experiences of his wife and children when he was involved with NASA are something I have not really seen in other biographies. It would have been nice to have more pictures accompanying the text, but there are a number at the back of the book.
Since Glenn passed away in 2016, it is good to have updated biographies of him. With the fiftieth anniversary of the moon walk in 2019, there seems to be a renewed interest in all things NASA. This re-issue is great to hand to readers who have also devoured Olson's Lost in Outer Space: The Incredible Journey of Apollo 13, Aldrin's To the Moon and Back: My Apollo 11 Adventure, Slade's Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon, and Mark Kelly's Astrotwins fiction series.