Author Topic: BOOK - ASTRONAUT MAKER (George W. S. Abbey biography)  (Read 3135 times)

Offline Michael Cassutt

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(This may be folded into a general publication topic, but for the moment:)

I'm pleased to announce the sale of my years-in-progress book ASTRONAUT MAKER to Lisa Reardon of Chicago Review Press via Stephen Barr of Writers House.  This is a biography of NASA's George W. S. Abbey dealing with his unique career in human spaceflight that began in 1959 (with his assignment to Dyna Soar) and continued into 2001.

I have reason to suspect that the subject may be of interest here.  Mr. Abbey is cooperating with the book, and dislikes the title.  So there's that.  Would welcome the usual anecdotes.  Unusual ones, too.

Delivery is expected next summer; publication in 2017.

Michael Cassutt

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Re: BOOK - ASTRONAUT MAKER (George W. S. Abbey biography)
« Reply #1 on: 09/15/2015 04:40 PM »
Excellent. I bought Mike Mullane Riding rockets, and Dragonfly - the crisis aboard Mir (can't remember the author name).
These two books showed George Abbey as a rather, eeerhm,- machiavellian figure. Main complaint was about the astronaut selection process.

 I think it is important to know Abbey own point of view - as a counterbalance to all those rumours (of a tyranny, dare I say) coming from ex-astronauts.

Waiting for the book impatiently !
« Last Edit: 09/15/2015 04:42 PM by Archibald »
...you have been found guilty by the elders of the forum of a (imaginary) vendetta against Saint Elon - BLAAASPHEMER !

Offline Malderi

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Re: BOOK - ASTRONAUT MAKER (George W. S. Abbey biography)
« Reply #2 on: 09/15/2015 06:34 PM »
Very much looking forward to this. Please let us know when it's on sale (or, at least, available to be added to my Amazon wish list!)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: BOOK - ASTRONAUT MAKER (George W. S. Abbey biography)
« Reply #3 on: 01/03/2018 02:16 PM »
its now on pre-order at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Astronaut-Maker-Mysterious-Spaceflight-Generation/dp/1613737009/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=collectspace&linkId=629d99d149eb53a5038973528a333820

One of the most elusive and controversial figures in NASA’s history, George W. S. Abbey was called “the Dark Lord,” “the Godfather,” and “UNO” (unidentified NASA official) by those within NASA. From young pilot and wannabe astronaut to engineer, bureaucrat, and finally director of the Johnson Space Center (“mission control”), Abbey’s story has never been fully told—until now. This fascinating account takes readers inside NASA to learn the real story of how Abbey rose to power and wielded it out of the spotlight. Informed by countless hours of interviews with Abbey and his family, friends, adversaries, and former colleagues, The Astronaut Maker is the ultimate insider’s account of ambition and power politics at NASA.
« Last Edit: 01/03/2018 02:17 PM by jacqmans »

Offline FNG

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Re: BOOK - ASTRONAUT MAKER (George W. S. Abbey biography)
« Reply #4 on: 01/03/2018 08:10 PM »
Thanks for highlighting. I am really looking forward to reading this.

Offline Oersted

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Re: BOOK - ASTRONAUT MAKER (George W. S. Abbey biography)
« Reply #5 on: 01/03/2018 10:15 PM »
The George Abbey described by Mike Mullane was exactly the wrong kind of boss. Wielding power by keeping the selection criteria opaque for the ASCANs. Whether that was a true picture I don't know but the description made a big impression on me, because I recognised the methods used by bad bosses I myself had encountered.

Offline brahmanknight

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Re: BOOK - ASTRONAUT MAKER (George W. S. Abbey biography)
« Reply #6 on: 08/01/2018 07:10 PM »
I've been reading my copy here and there all day.   

I'm loving it so far.

Offline woods170

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Re: BOOK - ASTRONAUT MAKER (George W. S. Abbey biography)
« Reply #7 on: 08/01/2018 07:47 PM »
The George Abbey described by Mike Mullane was exactly the wrong kind of boss. Wielding power by keeping the selection criteria opaque for the ASCANs. Whether that was a true picture I don't know but the description made a big impression on me, because I recognised the methods used by bad bosses I myself had encountered.
The George Abbey as described by Bryan Burrough in Dragonfly is similarly a person you would not want to have as your boss. And that book is written based on interviews with astronauts who had to deal with George on a day to day basis.

Offline CitabriaFlyer

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Re: BOOK - ASTRONAUT MAKER (George W. S. Abbey biography)
« Reply #8 on: 09/05/2018 09:31 AM »
Just finished.   Highly recommend this book for folks interested in the history of manned spaceflight and for any aspiring astronauts.  Of interest Abbey himself applied to be a part of the Original 19.  I think this book reveals a more balanced view of the man.  Riding Rockets and Dragonfly were both biased by disaffected astronauts.  It becomes obvious why some of the bubbas kept getting flights - because they were the right guys for the mission. 

Offline woods170

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Re: BOOK - ASTRONAUT MAKER (George W. S. Abbey biography)
« Reply #9 on: 09/05/2018 10:05 AM »
Just finished.   Highly recommend this book for folks interested in the history of manned spaceflight and for any aspiring astronauts.  Of interest Abbey himself applied to be a part of the Original 19.  I think this book reveals a more balanced view of the man.  Riding Rockets and Dragonfly were both biased by disaffected astronauts.  It becomes obvious why some of the bubbas kept getting flights - because they were the right guys for the mission. 

Emphasis mine.

I disagree somewhat with your statement. Particularly in Dragonfly some of the less-than-flattering descriptions concerning George Abbey are from astronauts that were actually favoured by George.

Bryan Burrough interviewed for Dragonfly a helluvalot more folks than just the astros that went to Mir.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: BOOK - ASTRONAUT MAKER (George W. S. Abbey biography)
« Reply #10 on: 09/05/2018 04:37 PM »
Just finished.   Highly recommend this book for folks interested in the history of manned spaceflight and for any aspiring astronauts.  Of interest Abbey himself applied to be a part of the Original 19.  I think this book reveals a more balanced view of the man.  Riding Rockets and Dragonfly were both biased by disaffected astronauts.  It becomes obvious why some of the bubbas kept getting flights - because they were the right guys for the mission. 

I think it's a bit more subtle and complex and sometimes weird than that. There were astronauts who seemed to get favored who may have been picked for the right reasons, but who had real problems with how Abbey worked. Sometimes he used flight assignments to get people out of positions where he didn't want them. Some people considered this to be underhanded.

Offline TripleSeven

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Re: BOOK - ASTRONAUT MAKER (George W. S. Abbey biography)
« Reply #11 on: 09/05/2018 05:15 PM »
Blackstar and Woods in my view have some good comments.

George Abby was and continues to be one of the smartest folks around AND has a very astute ability to spot strength and weaknesses in people.  His son shares man of those traits

The problem was that George was the last of the Apollo guys...and in my view came to power at NASA in an era where there was less diversity needed in talent and tolerated in personality but stays in power in an era where there was more diversity in talent and personalities "evolved". 

Deke Slayton had similiar issues...but was long gone by the time I came of age in "Houston" flight ops

George Abby is and always has been to me and my family (and my wifes family) very kind,courteous and just a joy to be with.  But he was not really picking me for flight crews (even in airplanes) so I dont have that perspective, and otehrs I know and admire do...and raised serious issues with how he did it.  We did have some conversations at one point on the notion of two engine airplanes doing microgravity, where we disagreed on a significant point (ie how many engines one needed :) ) but in the end well the tanker was parked.

As I have gotten older and have risen a bit in the pilot selection process...I have come to see More "merit" in how he was...but unlike him I have to work in a system where my judgements have to be "sold" to various pilot groups in terms of people with what I think have substandard performance.  He would not be comfortable in that areana but that kind of areana is essential in my view to a fair process.

He is a product of NASA at the time (late 60's) he joined and how the agency operated until Bush43 effectivly took him out of the JSC orbit.  And in my view did more good than harm.  His statements and policies through the Baker institute have been more "right" than wrong.

He also had a very nice passion for Bonanzas, which we shared/share

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