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One giant leap for mankind: 50 years on, the epic journey of Apollo 11

When three astronauts accomplished the first moon landing half a century ago, science fiction became reality. Their achievement, and the decade of work that made it possible, is recalled in a 50th anniversary edition of Norman Mailer’s classic book ‘Of a Fire on the Moon’

It has been called the single most historic event of the 20th century.

On 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins met John F Kennedy’s call for a manned moon landing by the end of the 1960s.

A decade of tests and training, a staff of 400,000 engineers and scientists, a budget of billions and the most powerful rocket ever launched all combined in an unprecedented event watched by millions the world over.

And no one captured the men, the mood, and the machinery like Norman Mailer.

One of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Mailer was hired by LIFE magazine in 1969 to cover the moon shot.

He enhanced his reportage in the brilliantly crafted book, Of a Fire on the Moon. Equally adept at examining the science of space travel and the psychology of the people involved – from Saturn V rocket engineer Wernher von Braun to the crucial Nasa support staff to the three astronauts – Mailer provides provocative and trenchant insights into this epoch-making event.

Mailer‘s words feature in Tachen’s 50-year anniversary edition, Moonfire: The Epic Journey of Apollo 11, released yesterday, alongside hundreds of photographs and maps from the Nasa vaults, magazine archives, and private collections. These images document the development of the agency and the mission, life inside the command module and on the moon’s surface, and the world’s jubilant reaction to the landing.

In addition the captions written by leading Apollo 11 experts explain the history and science behind the images, citing the mission log, publications of the day and postflight astronaut interviews.

You can purchase the 50th anniversary edition of Norman Mailer’s ‘Moonfire: The Epic Journey of Apollo 11’ here

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