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Dear Neil Armstrong

Letters to the First Man from All Mankind

James R. Hansen (Hrsg.)

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In the years between the historic first moon landing by Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969, and his death at age 82 on August 25, 2012, Neil Armstrong received hundreds of thousands of cards and letters from all over the world, congratulating him, praising him, requesting pictures and autographs, and asking him what must have seemed to him to be limitless—and occasionally intrusive—questions. Of course, all the famous astronauts received fan mail, but the sheer volume Armstrong had to deal with for more than four decades after his moon landing was staggering.

Today, the preponderance of those letters—some 75,000 of them—are preserved in the archives at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Dear Neil Armstrong: Letters to the First Man on the Moon publishes a careful sampling of these letters—roughly 400—reflecting the various kinds of correspondence that Armstrong received along with representative samples of his replies. Selected and edited by James R. Hansen, Armstrong’s authorized biographer and author of the New York Times best seller First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, this collection sheds light on Armstrong’s enduring impact and offers an intimate glimpse into the cultural meanings of human spaceflight. Readers will explore what the thousands of letters to Neil Armstrong meant not only to those who wrote them, but as a snapshot of one of humankind’s greatest achievements in the twentieth century. They will see how societies and cultures projected their own meanings onto one of the world’s great heroes and iconic figures.


— <b>Roger D. Launius</b>, author of <i>Reaching for the Moon: A Short History of the Space Race</i>
"These letters written to Neil Armstrong, the commander of the first Moon landing, offer a compelling time capsule into public perceptions of the event. Historian James R. Hansen has assembled and edited this collection to bring out the thrill at the time as well as the lasting meaning of reaching the Moon."
— <b>Emily Carney</b>, Founder of the Facebook Space Hipsters Group
" <i>Dear Neil Armstrong</i> traces the First Man's journey after Apollo 11, navigating the sometimes difficult, sometimes colorful world of public life, while trying to maintain some semblance of privacy. It's a compelling vision of what the world expected from the first moonwalker and how he tried to live his life post-fame. A must-read for all Armstrong-philes, as well as those seeking insight into the tall order he had to fill as a public servant after Apollo."
— <b>Francis French</b>, author of <i>In the Shadow of the Moon</i>
"From the deeply philosophical to the flippant and goofy, reactions to Neil Armstrong's first steps on the Moon were as varied as the people who followed the historic mission. The amount of unwanted advice and requests for gifts the Apollo 11 commander received is breathtaking and revealing. More touching are the many letters from people who wanted instead to do something for him, as a way of expressing their deep admiration and respect. These letters show that no matter what immense technological achievements take place, human nature, in all its quirky glory, will remain entertaining and unpredictable."
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epistolary, archives, Space Race, spaceflight, astronautics, politics, Apollo 11, iconography, Cold War, moon landing, fan mail, Neil Armstrong, astronaut