I recently saw a somewhat negative review on Amazon on my book about the Apollo 1 tragedy:
I’m always skeptical when someone conducts a “drive-by” attack on my work with no name, as if they created it just to issue the negative review. I’m sure it’s because I would know the person or could at least find him or her and answer the charges.
They certainly didn’t have the courage to face me one-on-one, so allow me to do it here.
Sure there’s no new revelation here and I never said there would be. This tragedy happened more than half a century ago and we are all pretty sure what happened. There’s nothing new to find.
The thesis is not outdated; it’s correct. But I did update the prevailing thesis with new sources, which this reviewer obviously didn’t care to check out. There were a number of new sources that I used – newer memoirs and oral histories – that support and corroborate what was known at the time. Simply look at how many endnotes there are!
If this reviewer had looked at the chapter on the fire with an open, honest, and analytical mind, he would have found that I used the recording of the crew during the fire – WORD FOR WORD!!
Not only that, I told of how the fire began on Gus’s side of the spacecraft and swept across to Roger’s, and noted how the fire was worse on Gus’s side, which is noted by the damage to Gus’s suit!
I also interviewed several NASA engineers who helped take apart the burned out spacecraft and helped redesign and rebuild it, as well as people who worked at Mission Control.
It makes you wonder what book the reviewer actually read!!
As for illustrations, those are very expensive for publishers to use and we opted not to do it. Furthermore, this is a narrative account of the tragedy, a work of history, not science or engineering.
I wrote the book not to shed new light but to keep the light shining on the tragedy, its importance, and the brave sacrifice of the crew. I didn’t want Apollo 1 to slip from the grasp of new generations of Americans, which, given my experience as a history professor, seems to be happening. It is a work of popular history for the general public.
But if anything more is needed in defense of my work, I will conclude with the words of Gus Grissom’s brother:
“I like the book, I think you have done a much better job presenting Gus’ character and personality than most in that he was not really the gruff gloomy Gus, that he has mostly been portrayed by the media. Also, appreciate that you made a point of the fact that he was not only a brave and heroic fighter pilot and astronaut, but that he was also an excellent engineer, most people miss this. Thank you for helping keep Gus’ memory alive. Two thumbs up from this Grissom!” – Lowell Grissom, brother of Gus Grissom, Commander of Apollo 1