“I think with a name like Christopher Columbus Kraft, Jr., some of my life’s direction was settled from the start,” says NASA’s longtime flight director in this compelling autobiography. Like the discoverer of America, the Houston author also explored uncharted territory, and his last name suggests not only the aircraft and spacecraft he helped design and oversee but also the skill and expertise that made him a space-race player. Kraft retells many heart-stopping stories, including the near-fatal return of Apollo 13. But what really ignites Flight: My Life in Mission Control is the author’s detailed recall of the early days of missile science and aerospace research, when Kraft and his colleagues forged ahead “with not much more than a cocky self-confidence, tinged with occasional moments of total bewilderment.” Kraft’s style reveals the no-bullshit bluntness that marked his tenure; for example, he remembers John Glenn as “a damn upstart Marine major.” For non-engineers, there are a few minor stumbling blocks, but overall, Flight offers a quick time-trip back to an era when America soared.