Light this Candle: The Life and Times of Alan Shepard, America's First Spaceman

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Crown Publishers, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 445 pages
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lan Shepard was the brashest, cockiest, and most flamboyant of America’s original Mercury Seven, but he was also regarded as the best. Intense, colorful, and dramatic—the man who hit a golf ball on the moon—he was among the most private of America’s public figures and, until his death in 1998, he guarded the story of his life zealously.

Light This Candle, based on Neal Thompson’s exclusive access to private papers and interviews with Shepard’s family and closest friends—including John Glenn, Wally Schirra, and Gordon Cooper—offers a riveting, action-packed account of Shepard’s life. Among the first men to fly off aircraft carriers, he was one of the most fearless test pilots. He endured long separations from his devoted wife and three daughters to fly dangerous missions, working his way up the ranks despite clashes with authority over his brazen flying maneuvers and penchant for risky pranks. Hugely competitive, he beat out John Glenn for the first Mercury spaceflight and then overcame a rare illness to return to space again on Apollo 14.

He took every challenge head-on and seemed to win every time.

Long overdue, Light This Candle is a candid and inspiring account of a bold American life.

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LIGHT THIS CANDLE: The Life and Times of Alan Shepard--America's First Spaceman

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Veteran journalist Thompson limns an authentic American life.Studly astronaut Alan Shepard (1923-88), scion of an old New England family, was born just two decades after the Wrights launched at Kitty ... Read full review

Light this candle: the life and times of Alan Shepard, America's first spaceman

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Astronaut Alan Shepard's initial public image was that of a brave Cold War hero, battling the Soviets for control of the sky. Later, Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff introduced other sides of the first ... Read full review


We made them heroes the first day they
Eyeballs in eyeballs out
A harlot of a town

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About the author (2004)

NEAL THOMPSON is a veteran journalist who has worked for the Baltimore Sun, Philadelphia Inquirer, and St. Petersburg Times and has written for numerous national magazines, including Outside, Men’s Health, and the Washington Post Magazine. He lives with his wife and their two sons in Asheville, North Carolina, where he is writing a book about moonshine, NASCAR, and the South. Visit his website at

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