The right stuff by Tom Wolf is an essential book on the space program of early America and most people agree the this Wolfe's book covering the start of the mercury space program is a definitive work on the early NASA's development and the development of American heroism. It is not easy to determine what the Right Stuff book is about. In some manner, it talks about the test pilots. In others, the book is about the space program. The fact that this book is written from different perspectives is an aspect that renders it difficult to be understood. The book opens out from the perspective one test pilot's wife. It then follows the sheer terror of Jane Conrad who is the wife of an astronaut called Peter Conrad, Jn., as she struggles with intense fears that her husband has been killed in the crash of a plane. The book is an utterly poignant and eye opening and Wolfe manages to convey or pass the utter horror of a perspective that is not is not often explored in other books.
From Jane Conrad, the book goes to the Chuck Yeager's story as he embarks on the struggle to break the sound barrier and ensure that he achieves the speed of Mach 1. While this does not seem like much a feat, back then, some people were convinced that Mach 1 was a wall that could not be broken. The Chuck Yeager's exploits add some color to the tale and also gives us the view of a test pilot which becomes in, valuable when the perspective moves again to Mercury 7 astronauts: Gus Grissom, Deke Slayton, Gordo Cooper, Wally Schirra, Scott Carpenter, John Glenn and Alan Shepard. The author makes it easier to understand the reasons why the space program was such an annoyance for these great people at the start after pushing the speed limits and dedicating themselves and their lives on the line on a daily basis, doing a job that a chimpanzee could do has its frustrations.
This book proves that it is historically and technically correctly. However, the author injects some of his personal opinions into the book which is complicated at best. For instance, there is an unpredictable case of the Liberty Bell 7 and Gus Grissom. Upon the splashdown, the scientists or astronauts were needed to proceed through a checklist and wait until they received a message that the helicopter had locked into their capsule before the hatch was blown. This would avoid the sinking of the capsule which would otherwise be a very big blow/loss to NASA at this early time in the process. Unfortunately, Gus had gone through this experience.
The hatch had blown early and the capsule sank. After the sinking, there were countless questions about whether the hatch had blown by accident, as Gus maintained or Gus had panicked and blown the hatch early. The author makes the incident seem indisputable that Grissom panicked and he blew the hatch earlier. On the contrary, the NASA review board found that this was not the case. Then, Grissom was cleared of the mess and he was allowed to continue with his work or to fly again. If Gus was not cleared he would not have been allowed to fly again as it happened to Scott Carpenter. According to this book, Gus Grissom happens to be the first astronaut who was asked to fly three times -Apollo, Mercury and Gemini. He would not do as asked because of the tragic Apollo One fire that brought his life to an end.
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Wolfe's book is basically a tale of various early American heroes. For instance, the book talks of the seven ordinary men who were asked to become the superior and extraordinary. These men became the shining beacons of hope in the space race with the Russians whereby the Russians were always ahead by one step. This book takes us on an epic journey to the early time when the space travel wasn't given, and when the seven men were seen as heroes because they volunteered to be into space on rockets even if these rockets seemed to blow up every time. In his book, Wolfe tries to touch upon a topic that is warranted to have a great interest in the readers. For instance, when many people are young they dream of becoming astronauts or pilots but a few of them manages to achieve the dream. After realizing the dream, these few people enjoy a universal awe and respect.
In this book, Tom Wolfe effectively attempts to provide the readers with some clues by introducing a concept of the "right stuff " which is a set of personal qualities that are needed for people to become heroes to themselves and to other people. Further, the "right stuff" is a relation to the sphere of various personal qualities that are involved in the creation of self-image that is characterized by heroism and the significance of the seven astronauts who were selected for the Mercury program and a wider circle of people who are regarded as national heroes.
In conclusion, Tom Wolfe achieves his goal of giving the study of some "right stuff" characteristics which may help the readers to accept and appreciate the scope of the human nature. He effectively shows us that the "right stuff " is an important feature that should be possessed in order to achieve self-importance and superiority. The actual holders of the "right stuff " are always aware of their positions and images in the opinion of other people.
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