cover image Moonbound: Apollo 11 and the Dream of Spaceflight

Moonbound: Apollo 11 and the Dream of Spaceflight

Jonathan Fetter-Vorm. Hill and Wang, $35 (132p) ISBN 978-0-374-90451-7

The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission is given a gloriously epic and even philosophical treatment in this standout graphic history by Fetter-Vorm. Starting with portraits of Neil Armstrong (terse, cerebral) and Buzz Aldrin (emotive, voluble) as they wrestle the Lunar Module to the moon’s surface, the narrative launches back in time. A riff on “the supernatural power that the moon seems to have on the human psyche” is followed by studies of the hard-fought stages in the transformation of humankind’s lunar obsession into engineering reality. Fetter-Vorm shuffles adeptly between the Apollo 11 crew’s nail-biter of a moon walk and capsule histories of inventors including Johannes Kepler, who discovered the laws of celestial motion, and the “audacious” Nazi braggart Wehrner von Braun, whose V-2 program was built on the backs of thousands of enslaved workers. Fetter-Vorm highlights figures such as Margaret Hamilton, NASA’s oft-ignored female software wonk, and rocket pioneer Sergei Korolev, later erased from the Soviets’ official histories. The understated text (“Put three men on top of nearly six million pounds of explosives, aim them at the moon, and light the fuse”) plays nicely with the accessible illustrations. Fetter-Vorm pays neat homage to a brief, shining achievement and the centuries of painstaking endeavors needed to accomplish it. Agent: Ross Yoon, Ross Yoon Agency (June)