Boomhower's account of Grissom's life in Gus Grissom: The Lost Astronaut crafts just such as image of Grissom--a heroic Hoosier everyman. The nation's astronauts have received lavish attention over the years from writers and scholars. Grissom has been the subject of several memoirs from family members and has been mentioned often in the numerous works on the space program. Yet no definitive biography has appeared until this long-overdue book. Why do we need another book on an astronaut? First, Grissom's experience with NASA offers an unrivaled story of the program's highs and lows, achievements and tragic failures that deserves a careful chronicling. But as Boomhower asserts, regardless of the tragedy linked to his name, Grissom's story is a quintessentially American tale--small-town boy rises up to become a revered space explorer--made more significant by successfully overcoming of his very public mishap on the second manned space flight and then his death during the ground tests for Apollo 1. The author notes a third reason, however. Boomhower feels the need to vindicate Grissom, to pointedly combat the image fostered by Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff (1979) and the subsequent movie of the same title that depicted Grissom in the early days of the space program as a good- natured oaf, who botched his Mercury mission when he panicked and blew the hatch prematurely, losing the Liberty Bell 7 capsule in the ocean. Correcting this image forms a powerful undercurrent throughout the book and helps drive the narrative.