The Right Stuff – the book by Tom Wolfe, the 1983 movie and how we got to the moon

Image: Wikipedia

Did you know that we are approaching the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing? On July 20, 1969, the United States Apollo 11 was the first crewed mission to land on the moon. Six hours after the lunar module landed, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to walk on the moon!

The race to space began over a decade earlier, when the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik 1 satellite in 1957. In response, the United States formed the Mercury Seven, a group of seven pilots who began training to be the first Americans in space. They were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. This was the beginning of the new astronaut profession and, between 1961 and 1963, all seven flew into space. All this training led to the historic moon landing in 1969.

Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff is about this group and the test pilots that came before them, including Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to break the sound barrier. Wolfe’s critically-praised book was published in 1974 and became the Academy Award-winning film in 1983.

I recently watched the movie, starring Sam Shepard, Barbara Hershey, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid and even a very young Jeff Goldblum. I enjoyed the movie very much because, even though I knew about the Space Race, I didn’t see the movie back in 1983 and didn’t know much about the Mercury Seven. What is the most impressive is the tremendous risk these men were willing to take to venture into the unknown. They suffered setbacks and failure and Gus Grissom died in a pre-launch test. But the public’s adulation of these men marked the beginning of America’s fascination with space exploration.

The Mercury Seven/Image: Wikipedia

At three hours, it’s a longer film than most, and I had to split it into two nights, but I’d recommend it. Seeing the cast as young actors was also fun!

Have you read The Right Stuff or watched the movie? Maybe you’re too young, but if you’re around my age, you will remember the lunar landing!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Preview: The Spirit in the Stick by Neil Duffy

spirit in the stick picThe Spirit in the Stick
Neil Duffy

Tonight marks the official beginning of lacrosse season at my house.  Training and practices have dominated our children’s schedules for the entire off-season and now we are ready for some games!  I’m excited to begin my season as a proud mother as I find my place in the stands to watch them play the sport.

Lacrosse is widely considered America’s first sport. There’s something special about its community of coaches, players and parents.  The respect and history of lacrosse and its important spiritual connections make it a truly exceptional game.  That’s why, this week, when I’m not on the sidelines, I’ll be reading The Spirit in the Stick, by Neil Duffy.  It’s a story about fourteen-year-old Robbie Jones and a two-hundred-year-old lacrosse stick, handed down to him by Hall-of-Famer Jimmy Lewis.  Robbie doesn’t know it yet, but he’s about to learn an important lesson about the true character of this extraordinary stick.

The Spirit in the Stick includes an introduction by Bob Scott, Legendary Johns Hopkins Lacrosse Coach and a member of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame.  In his comments, he writes:

This story is a major contribution to the great game of lacrosse.  Indeed, it transcends the game.  The rich historical and spiritual roots of its main characters provide stories that will touch every reader, regardless of age, gender, or association with the game of lacrosse.

Duffy has received much praise from coaches, players and people of all ages who are connected to the game.  Here are some of these comments:

“This story touched me on many levels.  This is a terrific piece of work.” – Dom Starsia, Head Lacrosse Coach, University of Virginia

“A powerful, very spiritual story.  I would recommend it to any young player today.” – Richie Meade, Head Lacrosse Coach, U.S. Naval Academy

“You’ve woven a wonderful story through a truly great player who accepted the mandate of honoring and respecting the Creator’s game!” – Sid Jamieson, former Bucknell University and Iroquois National Team Coach

“You have done a wonderful service for the sport – its founders, the fans, and the players of yesterday, today, and the future.” – Mike Hanna, Director of Athletics, Hobart College

Neil Duffy
Neil Duffy

About the Author:  Neil Duffy is from Massapequa Park, NY and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  He is a teacher, coach, and advisor at Norfolk Academy in Norfolk, VA.  You can find more information about this book on the author’s website:

Thanks for visiting – check back soon for my review!