Review of ‘Limitless: The Autobiography’ by Tim Peake

This is a very engaging, inspirational and detailed memoir from astronaut Tim Peake, who was the first British person recruited by the European Space Agency. He lived on board the International Space Station for six months. But how did it all happen? The book includes everything you’d want to know about what it’s like to train as an astronaut and go into space, but the focus is on his life before this. I’d say that the majority of the book is about his Army career, which mostly seemed to consist of lots of training (he eventually became a qualified helicopter instructor) and elaborate pranks. His time in the military was excellent preparation for being an astronaut, although unlike some, going into space wasn’t an early ambition.

The writing style of this book is clear and infused with gritty humour. It’s very readable. If you have a phobia of helicopters, you probably shouldn’t read it. Tim is very enthusiastic about a lot of things but especially helicopters. There is so much about them that if I was given a helicopter to pilot right now, I’m sure I could do it. How hard could it be?

For me, the book was a little too long. However, there are many mentions of family, friends and colleagues, so I’m picturing them all reading about themselves. Maybe it had to be that long, to fit everyone in. It’s a very honest book, in which he admits his own mistakes and what he learned from them. This is the second astronaut memoir I’ve read, after Buzz Aldrin’s book. The two are very different, as Tim’s is about his life leading up to his peak (Peake?) moment – being in space – while Buzz’s is about what happened after his career highlight.

First published in 2020.

14 thoughts on “Review of ‘Limitless: The Autobiography’ by Tim Peake”

  1. Great review! I like astronaut biographies and I really ought to get a copy of the book by Buzz Aldrin. I always thought Tim Peake was a bit boring, though – or maybe modern astronauts don’t interest me so much!! LOL!! If you are interested in space history than Andrew Chaikin’s history of the Apollo missions, A Man on the Moon, is extraordinary.. It’s available in paperback still. The Folio Society put out a special edition of Andrew Chaikin’s book for £150!! I was sorely tempted and it was a good job they sold out before I sent them any money….

    1. Thanks! 😀 I think you have mentioned the Chaikin book before – it does look great, I will add to my list. Hmm I would not spend that much on any book, even if it was a special ed of my favourite! The Aldrin one is worth reading although it is mostly about his life after the mission so not so much about being in space. I think Tim Peake looks more boring than he is. I think an astronaut now has to seem quite bland and family-friendly to justify the investors etc but he is certainly a prankster and has a sense of humour! I’m sure not everyone would do a gorilla-suit chase on the ISS…

  2. This looks like a really interesting book! I honestly don’t know much about an astronauts’ life, but I visited my local science museum one year to see a space exhibit and they had a lot of crazy information about the life of an astronaut (both in training and in space). Like how they go to the bathroom in space and how long it takes to put on a space suit. Life is so different with less gravity, lol.

    1. I think every astronaut is well-practised at explaining how to go to the bathroom in space 😉 This book has a lot about what it’s like to go into space, everything you’d want to know really, but the majority of the book is about his career before space.

  3. I’ve never read any books about astronauts before and this sounds quiet entertaining! I love gritty humour! And yes, I guess he had to make sure everyone feels included hence the lengthy book haha Brilliant review, NS! Love it!

    1. Thanks, Jee! There are a few books around written by astronauts, always good material for an autobiography! Tim Peake is a big deal in the UK because we so rarely send anyone up into space.

  4. I’ve only read Chris Hadfield’s memoir, which was good fun, although not the best memoir I’ve come across. Perhaps, I should try Buzz Aldrin’s book. I do love adventures in space.

    1. I love space themed books too! There are a lot of them out there. Aldrin’s book is more about what happened after he was in space but I know he wrote other books. I think astronauts have already talked so much about what it’s like to be in space that when it comes to writing their memoirs, they might understandably include non-space stuff too! I know of Hadfield’s book, not sure if I am likely to read it.

      1. It’s interesting to read about what takes place before and after being in space as well. Generally, I think astronauts must be quite special people (especially the first generations), which is also what makes their memoirs so appealing.

        1. So few people become astronauts (or cosmonauts depending where they are from!) that it is still really amazing to hear their experiences – and also to see them, now that technology is so good! And to get through the years of training – scientifically, mentally and be in excellent health – they definitely are special. Did you ever see the BBC series ‘Astronauts – do you have what it takes?’ where the contestants went through the tests? It was really interesting.

          1. I have read about the training and tests they have to go through – to be honest, I am not sure I have what it takes. But it is fascinating stuff. I didn’t watch the BBC series, but I will look out for it.

          2. The series is not available to watch at the moment but you never know. It was probably v expensive to make! I certainly would not have been able to do any of the tasks, as they involve fitness, numbers, navigating and not panicking!

    1. Thanks! 😀 Of course reading about how to do something is just as good as years of practical training 😉 Maybe I could fly a rocket too.

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