Taschen's MOONFIRE: now for less than $1,000


moonfire2.jpg I fondled a copy of the limited-run Taschen release of Moonfire by Norman Mailer when it first came out last year. It was the most visually luscious print homage to space I've ever seen (or groped). Come to blog of it, Moonfire may be the most beautiful books I've ever seen, period. It's surely the only one available in with its own piece of lunar rock (and a print signed by Dr. Buzz Aldrin).

Problem is, the original limited-edition version cost $1,000 (and what copies remain sell online in some places for $1,500). But great news for space junkies this week: Taschen has released a smaller version for $39.99 with the same page count, same content. It's part of the publisher's 30th anniversary "Golden Book" line. And greater still, I'm seeing them offered on Amazon for $26. No moon rock, no Buzz signature, but something I can afford to put on my shelf (and will).

Above, a detail of my favorite photograph in Moonfire: Neil Armstrong prepares for launch on March 16, 1966, in the Gemini VIII cockpit (courtesy NASA). Isn't that just a perfect, beautiful portrait? God I love that image so much.

Norman Mailer - MoonFire. The Epic Journey of Apollo 11
Flash gallery of book contents here.


  1. It comes with a piece of moon rock? I thought that it was illegal for private citizens to own moon rocks?

    1. According to the Taschen product description page, the lunar rock was found in Algeria. We’re talking about something that dropped on to Earth.

      I should clarify that there were two limited runs: one, with 1,969 copies offered ( $1,000 each), and the other, only 12 copies offered with the lunar rock sample (they’re all sold out, no price is listed online at this time)

  2. I love that photo too. Damn good-lookin’ man. Kind of epitomizes for me the 60s romance surrounding astronauts and space exploration.

  3. You have to hand it to Taschen. The book is gorgeous. All the websites and videos, as informative as they are, just can’t replicate the tactile pleasure of fondling one of Taschen’s LTD ED books. There’s not one I wouldn’t want to own. But Moonfire would be second or third on my list.

    Friedensreich Hundertwasser, 1928-2000 Is my numero uno drool-inducer.

  4. I prefer the pic on p. 58. Breakfast appears to consist of four pieces of fried chicken & a raw ostrich egg. And no Tang in sight.

  5. Thanks, I didn’t know about this edition. The Mailer piece was originally published under the title “Of A Fire On the Moon.”

  6. Wonderful photo.

    I’d also urge anyone to read Andrew Smith’s Moondust. Just finished it myself and i highly recommend as a companion to something like this.

  7. Yep moonrocks (brought back) are essentially illegal to ‘own’ – think this means private ownership. however it looks like these are not moon rocks, but rather slices of “one of the largest lunar meteorites ever found on Earth”

    not quite a moon rock.

    However. this is one *awesome* publication. Would that I could, I most assuredly would.

  8. That’s one of my favorite images too — though it’s Gemini VIII, actually – his first flight! Makes me so happy. That book looks gorgeous as well…

  9. I’m in the midst of reading Chaikin’s A Man on the Moon for the first time and it’s a damn fine read. I honestly feel the poorer for never getting around to reading it until now.

    I’m going to have to check out Moonfire as well, it looks astonishing.

  10. I’m ordering it next week (sadly, not one of the moon rock ones). It amazes me that we did such an incredible thing as the space program and then essentially abandoned it for the Shuttle/Space Pickup and the Space Station To Nowhere.

    Buzz Aldrin is one of my heroes and I wish he’d do a reality show where the cameras just followed him around while he was being awesome. He went to the moon, punched out a moon-landing-denier and was acquitted, recorded a song with Snoop Dog and his Aldrin cycler could revolutionize space exploration. This site had a video of him riding a blimp and simultaneously using a Blackberry and a iPhone.

  11. Just wanted to let everyone know: The photo of Armstrong was most likely taken by a man named Bill Taub who recently passed away. He was THE official NASA photographer back in those days and many of the iconic pictures we are all familiar with from those days were due to Bill’s efforts. He was a friend of my fathers and I spent my youth chasing steam locomotives with him and my dad. Here’s a link to an article at the NASA website: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/people/features/taub_gallery.html

    If you google, you’ll find more.

    RIP Bill

  12. Time Life did a three-volume version of Chaikin’s “A Man on the Moon”: Chaikin’s text and illustrations, supplemented with glorious color prints of their photos from back then. Well worth an eBay search,

    1. I have that edition. Mildly interesting story follows:

      I have the softcover of Chaikin’s book. I found out about the 3 volume/slipcover edition and began searching for the individual volumes. I was able to get volume 1 via eBay.

      A few days later, again on eBay, I see a listing for US$5.15. There is one picture of volume III. The information about the item indicated an absurd weight for the book, so I assumed that it was a cut and paste job from another site that described the three book set.

      I bought it, and waited from my newly purchased book to arrive.

      About a week later, this big, heavy package arrives. “What the hell is this?”, I’m thinking. I open it up, and it’s the three volume set. WITH slipcover.

      “Well. DAMN!”

      And here it is!

  13. My one reservation about Taschen books is there crass name placement. If you look at their normal price edition of Moonfire there is a giant gold 30 for Taschen’s 30th year. They did the same 5 years ago by plastering giant 25s on all their books.
    Fair trade off though, they publish fantastic books.

    1. You’ll be glad (as I was) to know that the gold Taschen 30th anniversary band shown on Amazon and the Taschen website is NOT part of the cover art…it’s a cardboard insert that comes off with the shrink wrap. The book itself is magnificent. I have the original edition (#157, no moon rock) and the new one as a “reading copy.” The new edition is an absolute STEAL at US$39.99. Just get one; you won’t be disappointed.

  14. What I’d really like to buy is a version of this book that comes with high-res digital copies of all these photos.

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