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June 13, 2022

Far Side of the Moon by Liisa Jorgensen ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

Far Side of the Moon: Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman and the Woman Who Gave Him Wings is the story of the decades-long love story of a NASA commander and the leader of the Astronaut Wives Club.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of biography Far Side of the Moon by Liisa Jorgensen
December 2021; Chicago Review Press; 978-1641606066
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); biography

I'm old enough that I remember watching Apollo 8 make its trips around the moon.  It was a six-day mission in December 1968, and was an integral part of NASA's goal to put a man on the moon.  This book is an authorized biography of Frank Borman and his family but more than that it is a love story between Frank and his wife Susan.  Frank may have gotten all of the glory and publicity for being an astronaut but it was Susan who was the reason that he was able to succeed.  She took care of everything at home and was always alone when she needed support.  More importantly. she never complained or tried to make him feel guilty.  Without her help and support, there is no way that he could have been as successful as he was.

From the time Frank flew a plane for the first time, his goal was to be a fighter pilot.  He and Susan started dating in high school but he broke up with her while he was at West Point.  When he realized how important she was to him, he went back home and asked her to marry him.  She agreed readily.  As soon as they got married, they began the nomadic life of people in the service at this time.  She would no sooner get their home set up than it was time to move again.  Doing the moving and making their apartments and houses into a home fell totally on Susan.  When they had two sons, parenting also fell to Susan.  She felt that she was fulfilling her role as the wife of a military wife.  When he was picked to join the space program, their lives began to change.  Their living conditions were better and soon they became media superstars.  As the wife of an astronaut, Susan always had to put on a brave face to the media that demanded attention.  The pressure was overwhelming and soon Susan's depression and alcoholism came to light.  Frank began to realize how important she had been to his success and loved her enough that he was willing to make changes to help her.  After she learned to cope with her life and became healthy again she began to work to help others who suffered from mental illness and addiction.

This well-researched book was an interesting look at NASA and the way that they treated the families of their astronauts.  They did nothing to support them and acted as if they were not important to their husband's success.  They handed out tranquilizers to the wives and didn't even help the families after several astronauts died during training.  They were more interested in getting good publicity and beating the Russians to the moon no matter what it took to do it.

This book is not just an honest look at Frank Borman, astronaut, but more importantly, it's a look at Frank and Susan and the changes in their lives over the years.  No matter what happened, their love remained strong and their devotion to each other increased during their lives.  They were married for over 70 years when she died of complications of Alzheimer's.

Buy Far Side of the Moon at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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