Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery, by Scott Kelly (2017)

Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery, by Scott KellyScott Kelly has spent more time on the International Space Station than any other American astronaut – 340 continuous days. That record is likely to stand for a while, since his honesty and candour in describing the experience could give other candidates second thought! Kelly returned from the ISS in March 2016, along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail “Misha” Kornienko, there for the same length of time. Along with other astronauts on shorter missions, Kelly and Kornienko face mind-blowing challenges as they maintain the ISS and conduct numerous science experiments, including on their own bodies. It’s all part of the global effort to sustain human life off our planet, with the goal of perhaps, one day, sending astronauts on a mission to Mars. Kelly, with the help of co-author Margaret Lazarus Dean, alternates chapters between a narrative of his time on the ISS with a biographical take that dates back to his rough childhood in New Jersey with twin brother Mark (famously also an astronaut). A terrible student who was essentially failing first year, he finally found his motivation in Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff. After changing schools and taking advice from his academically successful brother, he finished his degree with a near-perfect GPA and earned a spot in the military’s fighter pilot training program. The goal – to become a pilot for the ultimate flying machine, the space shuttle. He makes no apologies for being a pilot first, one who initially resisted the idea of a months-long mission on the ISS. Kelly reveals how, over several missions, he develops respect and appreciation for the work of scientists, though he peppers his book with criticisms of the bureaucracy of NASA and the Russian space agency. The writing is solid, and it’s interesting reading, but doesn’t get quite the recommendation I’d give to Chris Hadfield’s biography, a shorter but a more powerful memoir. My bias as a Canadian may be showing, but I found Kelly’s impatience and complaints wearying, even occasionally arrogant. He openly discusses his errors in his journey (we all make mistakes), but I can’t help feel this is a man who expresses humility rather than honestly feels it. Read it yourself and let me know what you think. My thanks to Knopf Doubleday Publishing for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29947651


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