He was the first astronaut to orbit the Earth. Nearly four decades later, as the world's oldest astronaut, his courage reveted a nation. But these two historical events only bracketed a life that covers the sweep of an extraordinary century.
John Glenn's autobiography spans the seminal events of the twentieth century. It is a story that begins with his childhood in Ohio where he learned the importance of family, community, and patriotism. He took these values with him as a marine fighter pilot during World War II and into the skies over Korea, for which he would be decorated. Always a gifted flier, it was during the war that he contemplated the unlimited possibilities of aviation and its frontiers.
We see the early days of NASA, where he first served as a backup pilot for astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom. In 1962 Glenn piloted the Mercury-Atlas 6 Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first manned orbital mission of the United States. Then came several years in international business, followed by a twenty-four year career as a U.S. Senator-and in 1998 a return to space for his remarkable Discover mission at the age of seventy-seven.
John Glenn has spent most of his life in public service, as a distinguished U.S. Senator and a veteran of twenty-three years in the Marine corps, during which time he was awarded numerous medals for his achievements, as well as the NASA Distinguished Service medal and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. He and his wife of fifty-six years, Annie, have two grown children and two grandchildren.
Nick Taylor is the author of seven nonfiction books and collaborated with John Glenn on his memoir. He lives in New York City.