The Right Stuff Tom Wolfe (Paperback)
It is this, the inner world of the early astronauts, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, and their confreres, that Tom Wolfe describes with his extraordinary powers of empathy. He shows us the hidden Olympus to which all ambitious combat and test pilots aspired, the top of the pyramid of the right stuff' And we learn the nature of the ineffable pilot's grace without which all else meant nothing. We see the men those achievements dominated the flying fraternity in the late 1950's as the space age began, men like Chuck Yeager and Joe Walker, pilots of the first rocket planes, most notably the X-I and the X-15. The selection of the Mercury astronauts in 1959 shook up the fraternity as thoroughly as had Yeager's breaking of the sound barrier twelve years before. Public excitement and concern over the space race with the Soviets immediately elevated the seven astronauts to the uneasy eminence of heroes, long before their first flight.