Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Reading | Magnificent Desolation

Magnificent Desolation by Buzz Aldrin with Ken Abraham

Buzz Aldrin was the second man to walk on the moon, and that is both the blessing and the curse that has driven the rest of his life. A blessing because he took this extraordinary achievement and built it into a career that has served him for decades. Speaking engagements, consultations, celebrity events, space initiatives - Buzz has taken every opportunity to grow "the business of Buzz,"  and finds great glee in his ever-expanding empire. And a curse, because his journey included much crashing and burning. Buzz suffered profound depression, alcoholism, two failed marriages, and much self-searching despair as he rode the fiery ups and downs of his post-landing life. He writes openly and freely about all of it in this, his second autobiography. Not many men feel the need to write two versions of their life story, but it's just another day in the supersonic life of Buzz Aldrin.

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If you've always imagined the early astronauts to be a group of ice-in-their-veins, chisel-jawed fighter pilots specially gifted in terse talk and the ability to use a slide rule, you aren't wrong. Along that personality spectrum lie considerable variations, but even so, Buzz is an outlier. Several of the other astronauts who have known him well describe him by saying, "Buzz is Buzz," which is an extraordinarily nice way of saying that Buzz Aldrin is a self-involved, egotistical braggart whose perpetual need for attention and praise makes him almost unbearable to be around. 


Because underneath those layers of obnoxious self-promotion lies a tender, vulnerable soul who has never really gotten over the fact that he was not first but second to walk on the moon. His unrelenting agenda for continuing human explorations in space can grate, but Buzz is sincerely devoted to his space causes and genuinely passionate about this important work. Despite his Labrador retriever with a spit-covered tennis ball personality, there's something endearing about Buzz Aldrin, and if anyone asked me to describe him, I'd have to say, "Buzz is Buzz." 

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