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Forty years ago, Buzz Aldrin became the second human - minutes after Neil Armstrong - to set foot on a celestial body other than the Earth. The event remains one of mankind's greatest achievements and was witnessed by the largest worldwide television audience in history. In the years since, millions more have had their earth-centric perspective changed forever by gazing at the iconic photograph of Aldrin standing on the surface of the Moon with the blackness of space behind him. He described what he saw as 'magnificent desolation'.
The flight of Apollo 11 made Aldrin one of the most famous people on the planet, yet few people know the rest of the story. In Magnificent Desolation, Aldrin not only gives us a harrowing first-person account of the lunar landing that came within seconds of failure, as well as the ultimate insider's view of life as one of the superstars of America's space program, he also opens up with remarkable candor about his more personal trials - and eventual triumphs - back on Earth. From the glory of being part of the mission that fulfilled President Kennedy's challenge to reach the Moon before the decade was out, Aldrin returned home to an Air Force career stripped of purpose or direction, other than as a public relations tool that NASA put to relentless use in a seemingly nonstop world tour. The twin demons of depression and alcoholism emerged - the first of which Aldrin confronted early and publicly and the second of which he met with denial until it nearly killed him.
As an adventure story, a searing memoir of self-destruction and self-renewal, and as a visionary rallying cry to once again set our course for Mars and beyond, Magnificent Desolation is the thoroughly human story of a genuine hero.