cover image Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon

Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon

Buzz Aldrin. Harmony, $27 (326pp) ISBN 978-0-307-46345-6

Picking up the threads of his acclaimed 1973 autobiography, Return to Earth, Aldrin presents as no-holds-barred account of how his celebrity, career and human weaknesses nearly destroyed his life. On July 19, 1968, millions witnessed Neil Armstrong and Aldrin become the first two people on the moon; an instant American hero, Aldrin was ""greeted with ticker-tape parades"" and spent the next two years, along with his fellow astronauts, as public relations assets for NASA and the Nixon administration. With a PhD from MIT, Aldrin had not only spent eight years training for the mission, but also helped developed technology needed for the mission; upon returning home from his world tour as an ""unofficial space ambassador,"" however, he found the doors at NASA ""pretty much closed""; the moon-landing program had given way to the shuttle project. That homecoming would catapult Aldrin into a decades-long struggle with alcoholism and clinical depression (both his grandfather and mother committed suicide) that broke up two marriages before psychiatric treatment and rehab put him on the road to recovery. 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.