John Batchelor highlights Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8

At 11 pm (Eastern) during the third hour of John Batchelor’s show tonight and tomorrow he will air a long two hour interview with me discussing my book Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8. After many years he finally decided his listeners deserved a full discussion of what is to many the most historically important Apollo mission to the Moon. It might not have landed on the Moon but what the astronauts accomplished and said changed the nation, and will likely be remembered forever.

Tune in if you are interested. Even better, consider reading the book. In fact, the best thing of all would be to give the book to any high school students in your family. They will learn more about American history and the Cold War by reading it than they get nowadays from their entire public school education.

I will also embed the podcasts here when they become available.

Repost: The real meaning of the Apollo 8 Earthrise image

I wrote this essay in 2018, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission to the Moon. I think it worth reposting again, especially because stories about Apollo 8 still refuse to show the Earthrise image as Bill Anders took it.

Earthrise, as seen by a space-farer
Earthrise, as seen by a space-farer

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the moment when the three astronauts on Apollo 8 witnessed their first Earthrise while in orbit around the Moon, and Bill Anders snapped the picture of that Earthrise that has been been called “the most influential environmental picture ever taken.”

The last few days have seen numerous articles celebrating this iconic image. While all have captured in varying degrees the significance and influence of that picture on human society on Earth, all have failed to depict this image as Bill Anders, the photographer, took it. He did not frame the shot, in his mind, with the horizon on the bottom of the frame, as it has been depicted repeatedly in practically every article about this image, since the day it was published back in 1968.

Instead, Anders saw himself as an spaceman in a capsule orbiting the waist of the Moon. He also saw the Earth as merely another space object, now appearing from behind the waist of that Moon. As a result, he framed the shot with the horizon to the right, with the Earth moving from right to left as it moved out from behind the Moon, as shown on the right.

His perspective was that of a spacefarer, an explorer of the universe that sees the planets around him as objects within that universe in which he floats.

When we here are on Earth frame the image with the horizon on the bottom, we immediately reveal our limited planet-bound perspective. We automatically see ourselves on a planet’s surface, watching another planet rise above the distant horizon line.

This difference in perspective is to me the real meaning of this picture. On one hand we see the perspective of the past. On the other we see the perspective the future, for as long humanity can remain alive.

I prefer the future perspective, which is why I framed this image on the cover of Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8 the way Bill Anders took it. I prefer to align myself with that space-faring future.

And it was that space-faring future that spoke when they read from Genesis that evening. They had made the first human leap to another world, and they wished to describe and capture the majesty of that leap to the world. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

Yet, they were also still mostly Earth-bound in mind, which is why Frank Borman’s concluding words during that Christmas eve telecast were so heartfelt. He was a spaceman in a delicate vehicle talking to his home of Earth, 240,000 miles away. “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you — all of you on the good Earth.” They longed deeply to return, a wish that at that moment, in that vehicle, was quite reasonable.

Someday that desire to return to Earth will be gone. People will live and work and grow up in space, and see the Earth as Bill Anders saw it in his photograph fifty years ago.

And it is for that time that I long. It will be a future of majesty we can only imagine.

Merry Christmas to all, all of us still pinned down here on “the good Earth.”

December 5, 2023 Zimmerman/Batchelor/Livingston podcast about Apollo 8

This podcast was specifically to talk about the Apollo 8 mission to the Moon in 1968, and my book, Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8. John Batchelor and David Livingston allowed me to tell a lot of stories, some from the book and some from my private conversations with the astronauts and their families.

Embedded below the fold in two parts.

Note that I will be doing a much longer interview with John Batchelor on the December 23-24, 2023 weekend about Apollo 8 and my book. John scheduled this preliminary short interview so that his weekday audience (different from his weekend audience) could hear about the book.
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Frank Borman, an old-fashioned American of the highest order, passes away at 95

Frank Borman, suited up just before the launch of Apollo 8 in 1968
Frank Borman, suited up just before
the launch of Apollo 8 in 1968

Frank Borman, who was the commander of both the Gemini 7 manned mission that proved that humans could live in weightlessness for two weeks as well as the Apollo 8 mission to the moon, the first human mission ever to another world, passed away on November 7, 2023 in Montana at the age of 95.

For a detailed obituary, go here. Though still survived by his crewmates on Apollo 8, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, his death ends that mission’s status as the last fully surviving crew of an Apollo mission.

My experience with Frank Borman was personal, as I interviewed him several times in writing Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8. In fact, he in many ways made the book possible. At the time I was still a relatively new science journalist, with no books to my credit. In trying to reach all three astronauts from Apollo 8, I did many web searches, and though I was able to locate the business numbers of Borman and Lovell, I found it impossible to locate contact information for Bill Anders.

Nonetheless, I started with Borman, and cold-called the car dealership he then owned in Corpus Cristi. When the phone was answered I was astonished to recognize the voice of Borman on the other end saying “How can I help you?” (Apparently it was lunch time, and Borman was holding the fort while his staff went out to eat.)

I immediately asked, “Is this commander Borman?” and got a very skeptical and suddenly doubtful “Yes” in reply. I realized immediately that Borman’s fame meant he was often harassed by fans in ways that could be annoying. I quickly explained who I was and that I wanted to write a history of the Apollo 8 mission, and to do so I wished to personally interview both him and his wife Susan. I explained that I strongly felt the story of the mission couldn’t be told properly without her perspective.
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Marilyn Lovell, wife of Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell, passes away at 93

Marilyn Lovell, holding son Jeffrey, watches the Saturn 5 lift-off with daughters Susan, right, and Barbara, left
Marilyn Lovell, holding son Jeffrey, watches Apollo 8 lift-off on
December 21, 1968 with daughters Susan, right, and Barbara, left

On August 27, 2023, Marilyn Lovell passed away at the age of 93 in Lake Forest, Illinois, where she and her astronaut husband had lived since he had retired from NASA following his last space mission, Apollo 13.

Jim Lovell of course is the famous one. In the 1960s space race he was the leading space cadet, spending more time in space than any other person, with flights on Gemini 7 (the longest mission yet), Gemini 12 (proved it was possible to do work on a spacewalk), Apollo 8 (first mission ever to another planet), and Apollo 13, which was supposed to be Lovell’s crowning achievement, a walk on the Moon. Unfortunately an explosion in the Apollo service module on the journey out to the Moon forced the crew to use its Lunar Module as a lifeboat so that the three astronauts could get back home safely. That failure meant Lovell would never step on the Moon, despite a life dedicated to taking the first tentative steps in the exploration and the eventual settlement of the solar system by the human race.

It could however be argued that none of that laudable career would have happened had he not had Marilyn Lovell for a wife.
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Celebrate Earthrise Day!

In only a little less than three months we will be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the December 1968 flight of Apollo 8 — first manned mission to another world. During that mission three humans spent 20 hours in orbit around the Moon, during which they read the first twelve verses of the Old Testament on Christmas Eve and became the first humans to witness an Earthrise and to photograph it.

To celebrate that achievement, a new website has been created, dubbed Celebrate Earthrise Day.

The website provides some great background material. You can listen to the astronaut’s Christmas telecast as well as see a recreation of the moment when the astronauts saw that Earthrise and Bill Anders took his famous color photo. The site also includes many photos from before, during, and after the mission, with many pictures coming from the personal family pictures of the astronauts. There is also audio of an 1988 Bill Anders’ interview, as well as a video of a fascinating presentation made by Bill and Valerie Anders, describing their life journey leading up to Apollo 8 and afterward.

Finally, and I think of most interest to my readers here, the site includes the audio of my introduction from the new audio edition of my book, Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8.

The site also includes the audio of one of the best radio interviews I have ever done, broadcast in 1998, on the subject of Apollo 8, our American culture, and the importance of each person choosing their path in life wisely. You can find that audio at the bottom of this webpage.

Check it all out. I think you will find it worth your while.

Audiobook of Genesis: the story of Apollo 8 now available

I am pleased to announce the release of the audiobook edition of Genesis: the story of Apollo 8. From the official press release:

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of one of mankind’s boldest adventures, the first manned flight to another world. To mark the occasion, an audio version of the first book about the mission of Apollo 8 has been released, narrated by Grover Gardner, a legend in the ears of fans of audiobooks all over the planet.

Says Valerie Anders, wife of Apollo 8 crew member Bill Anders, “When I first read this excellent account, published before the end of the space shuttle era, I was delighted.”

Now, with the advent of high quality audio books and online merchants like iTunes and Audible, and the resonant and expressive voice of narrator Grover Garner, everyone can enjoy this recording of this pivotal moment in space history.

While more recent books have been published on the mission of Apollo 8 (most of which rely heavily on Zimmerman’s work), none has captured the impact the Apollo program had on the families of the astronauts nearly so well as “Genesis – the story of Apollo 8.” The new forward to “Genesis,” by Valerie Anders, contains a moving tribute to those pilots who never returned from their missions – not as faraway as the moon, but just as dangerous and far more frequent.

This audio presentation also includes a preface and afterward recorded by the author, Robert Zimmerman, noted science journalist, a member of the National Association of Science Writers, and winner of numerous awards. Grover Gardner has been the narrator of more than 500 books, including many of the most popular audio books ever recorded, including the three part biography of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro and Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton. AudioFile magazine refers to him as “one of the best voices of the century.”

“Genesis – the story of Apollo 8” was produced for audio distribution by space fan and Army Lt Colonel William Hartel, who spends his work days as a professor of dentistry at the University of Tennessee. It is available wherever audiobooks are sold and runs 9 hours and 33 minutes.

Contact info: William Hartel, 314-402-5227

You can listen to Grover Gardner’s reading of the foreword by Valerie Anders here.

The audiobook can be purchased directly from all the standard vendors. Or you can get it free with a 30-day trial membership in Audible for $19.99. This costs $2 more than buying the book direct, but this free trial deal will give me a much bigger cut per sale. If you support what I am doing, consider it.

And as always, for those who prefer to read, the ebook edition is also available.

Genesis cover

The ebook edition of Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8 includes a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


Available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from the publisher, ebookit. If you buy from ebookit the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.


“Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America’s quest for the moon… Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America’s greatest human triumphs.”
–San Antonio Express-News

Book news!

Two book items which I think my readers will be interested in:

First, my publisher of the ebook edition of Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8 has asked me to ask my readers to please post book reviews of the book on Presently the book has 47 reviews. If it gets three more, we will be eligible for a number of additional Kindle promotions.

So, whether you liked the book or not, please go to its webpage on amazon and give it a review. Your support will be very much appreciated.

Note also that the sale on amazon continues until the end of December. Until then, you can get the ebook edition of Genesis the Story of Apollo 8 for only $2.99!

Second, I have just published a new book, though on a topic that has nothing to do with space. Circuit Hikes of Southern Arizona was written during my spare time during the past two years while Diane and I explored the many beautiful trails out here in Tucson. Though there are many good Arizona hiking guidebooks, I noticed a lack of guidebooks describing loop trails. Since that is what we were doing anyway, I figured why not assemble my knowledge into a new guidebook and use the opportunity to learn about the modern world of both ebook and print self-publishing.

The print edition of Circuit Hikes is available directly from me here for $15, including shipping. The ebook can be purchased here (directly from me) or from amazon, barnes & noble, and all your normal ebook venders for $10.

This post will remain at the top of the webpage for the next twenty-four hours.

A request in connection with Genesis

Since a new ebook edition of my first book, Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, was released in the summer of 2013 the reviews and sales have been excellent. However, in changing distributors in late June, causing the kindle price to rise, the reviews on have temporarily disappeared. We are trying to get them back, but I would be very grateful if any of my readers who read and enjoyed Genesis would take the time to go to amazon and post a review of the book there.

I am not asking for good reviews. I am asking for honest reviews. I am quite confident that the quality of the book will make those reviews good reviews, without my asking.

Genesis now available on Kindle

It took Amazon a bit longer than everyone else, but the ebook edition of Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8 is now available for Kindle at

And of course, it can also be purchased at all other ebook bookstores, as well as here at Behind the Black.

Update: My Tuesday appearance on John Batchelor has been moved up to tonight (Monday) from 11 to 11:30 pm, during which we will be discussing Genesis, the election, and some space news of the day,

The new ebook edition of Genesis

I am thrilled to announce that the new ebook edition of my first book, Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, is now officially available for sale for only $5.99 from Mountain Lake Press. The direct link to Mountain Lake Press’s sales page is here and on the right. Within two weeks the book will also be available at all retailers, but if you buy it direct from Mountain Lake Press, I will make a little extra money, which would be very much appreciated.

In creating this ebook edition I made sure that all the graphics from the original but out-of-print hardback were included. Valerie Anders, the wife of astronaut Bill Anders, added her own thoughts in a new foreword. I also added a new introduction discussing how the history of space exploration has evolved since the book’s initial publication in 1998. As I noted,
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