Rediscover: Apollo 11 Biographies

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11's lunar module landed in the Sea of Tranquility, where astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two humans to set foot on another celestial body. Overhead, Michael Collins orbited the Moon inside Apollo 11's command module. Fifty years and several more landings later, the stories of these spaceflight pioneers remain thrilling testaments to the powers of human resolve and ingenuity.

Neil Armstrong resisted any sort of authorized biography for many decades. In 2002, at age 72, Armstrong finally agreed to share his story. First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen (Simon & Schuster, 2005) depicts Armstrong's conventional upbringing and an early love for aeronautics (he earned his pilot's license before his driver's license). After Apollo 11, Armstrong struggled with international fame and became a lecturer in engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

Buzz Aldrin is a prolific author and has written two autobiographies. The second, Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon (Harmony Books, 2009) recounts the lunar landing and, like Armstrong, a difficult experience with his newfound celebrity status. The Michael Collins autobiography, Carrying the Fire, was first published in 1974 with a foreword by Charles Lindbergh. A 50th anniversary edition with a new preface by Collins was recently released by Farrar, Straus & Giroux ($17, 9780374537760). --Tobias Mutter

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