Mailer’s superb account, written as it was happening, of the first attempt to land men on the moon – “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” A Fire on the Moon tells the scarcely credible story of the Apollo 11 mission. It is suffused with Mailer’s obsession both with the astronauts themselves and with his own anxieties and terrors about the extremity of what they were trying to achieve. Mailer is both admiring and appalled and the result is a book which is both a gripping narrative and a brilliant depiction of the now-forgotten technical issues and uncertainties around the mission. A Fire on the Moon is also a matchless portrait of an America caught in a morass of introspection and misery, torn apart by the war in Vietnam. But for one, extraordinary week in the summer of 1969 all eyes were on the fates of three men in a rocket, travelling a quarter of a million miles away from Earth.
Penguin Books, 2014 (1971)