Purchase options



“Robert Kurson tells the tale of Apollo 8 with novelistic detail and immediacy.”

— Andy Weir, #1 New York Times 
bestselling author of The Martian and Artemis


By August 1968, the American space program was in danger of failing in its two most important objectives: to land a man on the Moon by President Kennedy’s end-of-decade deadline, and to triumph over the Soviets in space. With its back against the wall, NASA made an almost unimaginable leap: It would scrap its usual methodical approach and risk everything on a sudden launch, sending the first men in history to the Moon—in just four months. And it would all happen at Christmas.
In a year of historic violence and discord—the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago—the Apollo 8 mission would be the boldest, riskiest test of America’s greatness under pressure. In this gripping insider account, Robert Kurson puts the focus on the three astronauts and their families: the commander, Frank Borman, a conflicted man on his final mission; idealistic Jim Lovell, who’d dreamed since boyhood of riding a rocket to the Moon; and Bill Anders, a young nuclear engineer and hotshot fighter pilot making his first space flight.
Drawn from hundreds of hours of one-on-one interviews with the astronauts, their loved ones, NASA personnel, and myriad experts, and filled with vivid and unforgettable detail, Rocket Men is the definitive account of one of America’s finest hours. In this real-life thriller, Kurson reveals the epic dangers involved, and the singular bravery it took, for mankind to leave Earth for the first time—and to arrive at a new world.


Advance praise for Rocket Men

“In 1968 we sent men to the Moon. They didn’t leave boot prints, but it was the first time humans ever left Earth for another destination. That mission was Apollo 8. And Rocket Men, under Robert Kurson’s compelling narrative, is that under-told story.”

— Neil deGrasse Tyson


“Kurson takes us on mankind’s first trip to the Moon, in 1968, another time when it seemed America was tearing itself apart. But on Christmas Eve, we raised our eyes skyward and were inspired by the bravery and eloquence of the three Apollo 8 astronauts as they orbited the Moon and reminded us of our common humanity.”

— Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger


Rocket Men is a timely and thrilling reminder of a heroic American achievement—three dashing astronauts and the first rendezvous with the moon. It has it all—suspense, drama, risk, and loving families. We could use those days again.”

— Tom Brokaw


“This is the story of the most consequential and daring voyage since those in the era of Columbus, the Apollo 8 mission to the Moon. The tale is told with the care and clarity, and the heart-banging drama, that Robert Kurson’s legion of readers have come to expect from him.”

— Scott Turow


“As a Rocket Woman myself, I know very well the story of Apollo 8, and yet I couldn’t put this book down. I was transported—along with NASA, the public, and the crew and their families—on this first-of-its-kind journey. Kurson presents not only the challenges, risks, ambition, and success of Apollo 8, but a story of human spirit. As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 8, this incredible journey and the stunning memory of Earthrise can set us on the trajectory for an awe-inspired future.”

— Nicole Stott, NASA ISS Space Shuttle Astronaut