• Failure Is Not an Option

  • Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond
  • By: Gene Kranz
  • Narrated by: Danny Campbell
  • Length: 18 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 29-08-2011
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.6 (57 ratings)

Publisher's Summary

Gene Kranz was present at the creation of America's manned space program and was a key player in it for three decades. As a flight director in NASA's Mission Control, Kranz witnessed firsthand the making of history. He participated in the space program from the early days of the Mercury program to the last Apollo mission, and beyond. He endured the disastrous first years when rockets blew up and the United States seemed to fall further behind the Soviet Union in the space race. He helped to launch Alan Shepard and John Glenn, then assumed the flight director's role in the Gemini program, which he guided to fruition. With his teammates, he accepted the challenge to carry out President John F. Kennedy's commitment to land a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s.
Kranz was flight director for both Apollo 11, the mission in which Neil Armstrong fulfilled President Kennedy's pledge, and Apollo 13. He headed the Tiger Team that had to figure out how to bring the three Apollo 13 astronauts safely back to Earth. (In the film Apollo 13, Kranz was played by the actor Ed Harris, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance.)
In Failure Is Not an Option, Gene Kranz recounts these thrilling historic events and offers new information about the famous flights. What appeared as nearly flawless missions to the moon were, in fact, a series of hair-raising near misses. When the space technology failed, as it sometimes did, the controllers' only recourse was to rely on their skills and those of their teammates. Kranz takes us inside Mission Control and introduces us to some of the whiz kids - still in their twenties, only a few years out of college - who had to figure it all out as they went along, creating a great and daring enterprise. He reveals behind-the-scenes details to demonstrate the leadership, discipline, trust, and teamwork that made the space program a success.
©2009 Gene Kranz (P)2011 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"Plenty of books (and several films) have already tried to depict the space program's excitement; few of their creators had the first-person experience or the attention to detail Krantz has, whose role as flight control "White" his readers will admire or even wish to emulate." ( Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jspaull on 05-05-2017


Such a great account of the first space generation . There is so much detail in this book it's a must read for any space nerd like me . I am in awe once again of the levels of professionalism these guys operated with . The fearlessness of the astronauts and the impossible situations they conquered . There should be a course in mental toughness developed around this . Thank you for sharing this incredible story !

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Albert Sjoberg (PA) on 05-06-2015

A wonderful story told beautifully.

The story of the space race as told from inside mission control. This beautifully told story illustrates the right stuff that was part of the American race to space.

Gene talks about his experiences and impressions dr the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions. The technical detail and log book like rebelling of the missions recreates the wonder, enthusiasm and menace of NASA's missions. Placing the events in political context adds a depth and honesty to a work.

The only downside is the extensive use of acronyms throughout. Although the folks involved would have mastered the various abbreviated names rapidly during the months of planning and training, I found that nearly listening, I struggled to master all the acronyms on the trot. Fortunately I am able to listen again as this is definitely a book that will will be listened to more than once.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kevin on 19-02-2013

Excellent Book!

What made the experience of listening to Failure Is Not an Option the most enjoyable?

Excellent book! If you love the Space program then you must read or listen to this book. One reviewer said it was boring, it was NOT boring. I've listened to it twice in less than a month.

The only thing that would have made this book better would have been to have Gene Kranz narrate it himself.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Mr. R. J. King on 21-03-2014

Interesting for the enthusiast

To like this book I think you need to have a very genuine interest in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. It's not for the beginner, or someone with a passing interest. You have to want to know about the details, and it helps to already have a wider appreciation of the space race. It's not that that the book expects a lot of background knowledge, but I'm not sure how much you'd get out of it if you didn't have that already. It can be a little dry in places, and can be hard to keep track of all the names.
Kranz is an interesting guy, and this book gives an insight into the gigantic pressure and expectation placed on "Flight", and the rare breed of person capable of doing the job well.
The book is strictly about the NASA program, mentions the Russians only in passing, and offers no insight at all into Kranz's place in popular culture. For example, the Apollo 13 film, in which Kranz features heavily, is mentioned only fleetingly.
I really enjoyed it, but if you're just learning about the space race, this probably isn't the best starting point.

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5 of 6 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Mr. P. J. Bellchambers on 13-04-2013

Brings back so many memories!

I was young when the Apollo and moon landings were the news! I watched the first steps on the moon and was transfixed at the technology and enormity of the achievements. I was luck to travel a bit and saw the Lunar Module in the Science museum in Boston. I was a bit more savvy about technology and amazed at the bravery and the fact that the computer technology was less capable than the power of a modern day smart phone! I saw one of the last lift offs of the shuttle in 2002 and I felt transported back to the days of the moon landing when I was 12.

This book by one of the main men involved throughout the programme relives and retells the reality of it all and I am so glad to be able to hear his story and view of the programme etc.

Thanks Gene for doing this and recording a wonderful, scary and uplifting part of history of the 20th Century.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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