Within the framework of the manned-space program, this book chronicles the romance, adventure, heroism, and agony experienced by the astronauts and their families. Wolfe traces how a nationalistic press portrayed the astrounauts as their country's seven bravest men. He finds them brave indeed, and some of them God-fearing, but no more so than the average warrior. Pilots, he writes, "are the new cavalry. The adventurous young man who wanted to be a warrior used to go into the cavalry. Now he's a pilot."