Brandon

Professor bestows book to students

Mar 13 • Brandon Jaces, Opinion • 2024

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It has been awhile since I’ve been assigned a book to read for class and have actually gotten through it and have enjoyed the book.
Sure there have been some summer reading stories I’ve enjoyed over the years, and I read a Harry Potter book once back in sixth grade, the fourth one, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” to be exact.
I was about due for another good read, which sounds pathetic I know. Nonetheless, I have come across a good book that’s informative and entertaining.
The book was bestowed upon me by one of my professors before we left for spring break. I’m not sure if the professor purchased them or if the department did; either way, it was a nice gesture and I am fortunate to have received it.
One of the students in class raised his hand before we left and asked, “How much should we read?” The professor nonchalantly responded, “Once you pick the book up, you’ll want to read it from cover to cover,” or something along those lines.
After that we all left and got ready for break. Once I got home and got my dog, Winston, groomed, I sat down on my favorite recliner and decided to read. I have recently felt that I should start reading and was waiting for the opportunity to find a good book. Here it was.
The conditions were perfect, too — a week off from classes and some time in my favorite recliner. The first time I picked it up I got through a decent amount of it, and by that I mean 50 pages, which wasn’t too bad.
Each day I read more and by the end of break I got about two-thirds of the way through the story. Now you might be wondering, what is the damn title, Brandon? Ah, yes, that would be helpful, inquisitive reader. The title of the book is “The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe. No, not the governor of Pennsylvania — that’s Tom Wolf, with no “e.”
Rather Wolfe is a southern gentleman with a heck of a fashion sense that is portrayed on the first page of the book with a short cutline talking about other books he has written.
“The Right Stuff” begins in 1955 and the first third or so talks about the lives of various famous pilots such as Chuck Yeager, Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Pete Conrad and Gus Grissom.
Wolfe talks about their and other pilots’ ways of living and how they lived to “push the envelope” in the sky by going faster in planes, up to Mach 5.27, and taking turns sharper than ever thought possible. They would do anything to prove that they had “the right stuff.”
I am now getting into the section of the book dealing with the U.S. space race with the Soviets. The book explained how the Soviets beat us there and how the U.S. responded later than planned. However, a lot of the book is from the view of the pilot and how the “first trip to space,” suborbitally entailed an automatic flight of a pod with an astronaut inside — something the designated fast-flying naval pilots weren’t familiar with.
As I go along I am noticing that the book talks about more than what seems to mimic “Top Gun,” a favorite movie of mine, and delves into deeper ideas of politics and culture.
I recommend it to anyone and I can see why my professor said it’s a book you’ll pick up and never want to put back down.
BRANDON JACES
jaces001@knights.gannon.edu

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