My family gave me a wonderful Christmas present: the Folio Society edition of Andrew Chaikin’s A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts. In chronological terms, Chaikin’s book basically picks up where Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff left off, but Chaikin is the anti-Wolfe: restrained and businesslike, rather than flamboyant and hilarious. Still, he tells the story well, and this edition is magnificently complemented by dozens and dozens of perfectly-chosen photographs. What a delight.
And, like many Folio Society editions — I have about a dozen of them — this book prompts me to reflect on what an extraordinary thing a book can be. When a book is well-written, well-edited, well-designed, well-printed and bound, so many skills have been practiced at a high level, from journalistic research to paper-making to photographic reproduction, that it amounts to a genuine Gesamtkunstwerk. To me, few things are as beautiful as a beautiful book.