Book Review: Bringing Columbia Home by Michael D. Leinbach and Jonathan H. Ward

“Pressure to keep on schedule had combined with a complacency brought about by so many past mission successes. The same conditions were present for Apollo 1 and Challenger. And once again, a crew would pay with their lives.”

Michael D. Leinbach & Jonathan H. Ward, Bringing Home Columbia

Title: Bringing Columbia Home: The Untold Story of a Lost Space Shuttle and Her Crew
Author: Michael D. Leinbach & Jonathan H. Howard
Genres: Non-fiction, Science, History, Space, Memoir
Length: 10 hrs, 42 mins (Audiobook)
Published: January 23rd, 2018

My Rating: ★★★★
Read: 5/11/2023


I wasn’t aware of the magnitude of the tragedy at the time, however, I vividly remember the loss of the Columbia crew back in 2003. Despite having memories of the tributes and magazine covers, I’ve never actually read about the accident in my adult life. 

Less about the space mission itself or the lives of the crew members, Bringing Home Columbia focuses mostly on the recovery of the craft and, sadly, the bodies of the deceased astronauts. As can be expected, great efforts went into this devastating task — not only by officials but also by civilian volunteers in the search area. While the logistics are sad, the example of a community banding together is inspiring. 

Oddly, this was a super quick read (listen) for me. The pace is slow and I struggled to keep attention consistently due to long-winded passages. Yet, before I knew it I’d reached the end. It’s not the most exciting space-related book I’ve read, but it was quite interesting. 

Likes & Dislikes:

What I liked:

  • The book recounts the search with a linear timeline.
  • Focused more on the humanity surrounding the catastrophe rather than the horrific details.

What I didn’t like:

  • The writing itself was a bit dry.
  • The title doesn’t match the content. ‘Recovering Columbia’ would have been more fitting.


I saw this book on display at Kennedy Space Center and nearly bought it. I realized I already owned the audiobook, but I feel like the physical book would be the preferable way to read this.

Where to buy the book:

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: