I didn't see the movie until many years after it came out. When I did, the intentional mythologizing of history really grabbed me. I just had to read the book.
The book didn't disappoint. Wolfe's account of
the early Space Race was both fascinating and hilarious.
I've never forgotten his colorful expose` on the collective subconscious of the testpilots/astronauts, in particular. Like the ziggurat metaphor used to describe the egocentric construct of the unspoken hierarchy according to how much of the Right Stuff each individual thought he and his peers possessed. In fact, I was obsessed with Wolfe's depiction for a while. I was rubbing elbows with military pilots at the time, and considering becoming one myself, and could see the truth in it: huge egos and equally enormous wristwatches.
I at least had the ego.
Anyway, the psychological insights are only dressing for the thorough investigative reporting Wolfe wove into an informative and entertaining inside story of an elite subculture in history.
For those who haven't both read the book and seen the film, I encourage you to correct that. It's not a case of one being better than the other; instead they compliment each other.
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