Tucson Festival of Books

James R. Hansen

Victor John Penner

Arizona Daily Star

James R. Hansen is a Professor Emeritus of History at Auburn University and the author of "Completely Mad: The Epic Tale of the Race to be First Across the Atlantic Solo in a Rowboat." 

An expert in the history of flight, Dr. Hansen has published 14 books. "First Man," released in 2005, is the only authorized biography of Neil Armstrong. Translations have been published in more than 20 languages, and the book was adapted into a move starring Ryan Gosling in 2018.

Dr. Hansen has been connected to NASA for four decades, resulting in numerous NASA publications. Early in his career, Hansen served as Historian-in-Residence at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. He is also a past vice-president of the Virginia Air and Space Museum in Hampton. 

Hansen is also an internationally known expert on the history of golf course architecture. He has played on more than 500 courses around the world, and for the past 25 years he has been a golf-course rater for Golfweek magazine. 

​Before retiring in 2017, Hansen had been chair of the Auburn history department and the director of Auburn's Honors College. He, his wife and family now live in Birmingham, Ala.

Awards: 2015-18 Distinguished Lecturer, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 2015; U.S. Professor of the Year, Auburn University Nominee; 2014: Herbert Warren Wind Award, presented by the United States Golf Association for the year’s best golf book; 2018: New York Times Bestseller: First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong; The Essential Biography (revised edition, 2018); 2010: AIAA Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award for Truth, Lies, and O-Rings for “the best original contribution to the field of aeronautical or astronautical non-fiction literature published in the last five years dealing with the science, technology, and/or impact of aeronautics or astronautics on society;” 2009: Pulitzer Prize Nomination for Truth, Lies, and O-Rings : Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster; 2009: Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science & Technology, Finalist, for Truth, Lies, and O-Rings; 2009: Top 25 Book from Public University Presses, Ranking from Books XYZ: The Non-Profit Bookstore Supporting Education, for Truth, Lies, and O-Rings; 2006: Pulitzer Prize Nomination for First Man; 2006: CHOICE Magazine Academic Book of the Year for First Man; 2006: National Book Award Nomination for First Man; 2006: AIAA Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, to First Man; 2006: Eugene S. Ferguson Prize for Outstanding Reference Work in the History of Technology, Society for the History of Technology, to Wind and Beyond: A Documentary Journey into the History of Aerodynamics in America, Volume I: The Ascent of the Airplane; 2006: Outstanding Teaching Award in the Humanities, College of Liberal Arts, Auburn University; 2006: Academy of Teaching and Outstanding Teachers, College of Liberal Arts, Auburn University; 2005: Outstanding Teacher in the Core Curriculum, College of Liberal Arts, Auburn University: 1997: Eugene Emme Prize in Astronautical Literature, American Astronautical Society (AAS), for best book in the history of astronautics; 1996: Creative Research Award, Office for the Vice President for Research, Auburn University; 1994: Pulitzer Prize Nomination for Spaceflight Revolution: NASA Langley Research Center from Sputnik to Apollo (NASA, 1995), nominated by NASA; 1994: NASA nomination of Spaceflight Revolution for American Historical Association's Albert J. Beveridge Award: 1987: Distinguished Lecturer, American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA); 1987: AIAA History Manuscript Award; 1985: Goddard Prize, National Space Club

Scheduled events:
History the Hard Way
In the same week Americans first walked on the moon, two men completed a very different quest here on earth: they crossed the Atlantic Ocean in rowboats. Alone. What drove them? What were the rewards? Historian James R. Hansen was wondering those things himself!

Arizona Daily Star Stage (Seats 250)  View this venue on the Festival map
Sun, Mar 10, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
History / Biography
Signing area: Signing - Arizona Daily Star (following presentation)  View this venue on the Festival map

Panelist: James Hansen
Moderator: Brett Fera
Brits Who Dared
Not all dreams are created equal. Bestselling authors S.C. Gwynne and James Hansen contrast the disastrous post-WWI British vision of airship flight and the heroic daring of two men who defied nature to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Integrated Learning Center Room 120 (Seats 300, Wheelchair accessible)  View this venue on the Festival map
Sun, Mar 10, 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
History / Biography
Signing area: Sales & Signing Area - Integrated Learning Center (following presentation)  View this venue on the Festival map

Panelists: S.C. Gwynne, James Hansen
Moderator: William Bird, Jr

Completely Mad
Tom McClean, John Fairfax, and the Epic Race to Row Solo Across the Atlantic
History / Biography
Pegasus Books
July 2023
ISBN 9781639364176
384 pages
Buy now

First Man
The Life of Neil A. Armstrong
History / Biography
Simon & Schuster
May 2018
ISBN 9781501153068
Paperback, 464 pages