12. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: Chris Hadfield

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Along with millions of others across the globe, I have followed Commander Chris Hadfield on twitter with relish. His interesting comments and amazing pictures of the earth and space are a delight. I have heard and read interviews with him in which he seemed like a fascinating and eloquent man. I had even caught snippets of this book when it was read as BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week. So I was really keen to read An Astronaut’s Guide expecting it to be an exciting and engrossing account of his life, on Earth and in space.

I could not have been more disappointed. The writing is clunky and repetitive, seriously needing sone thorough editing. There is little discernible structure, each chapter is based around a lesson he has learnt and had, repeatedly, reinforced during his career. As a result, it comes across a little preachy and like a self-help book; not what I signed up for. It gets more interesting in Part Two when he goes to take up his post as Commander of the International Space Station but for most of the book it is in depth descriptions of data collection and simulations, of which I could only take so much. Furthermore, I am fascinated by space and in spite of Hadfield’s repeated assurances of the value of what he was doing, I just couldn’t help thinking what a colossal waste of money the space program is, this book really hits that home. Can we really afford to have thousands of people spending all day every day training with such hugely expensive equipment when there is such poverty and environmental problems here on earth? I found this book uncomfortable, not inspiring.

2 stars

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