In 1962, an anxious nation watched on live TV as astronaut Scott Carpenter's Aurora 7 capsule malfunctioned during reentry. Only his courage and skill saved the day. But instead of praise for having the "Right Stuff," Carpenter drew criticism for "botching" an otherwise flawless mission and overshooting his landing zone. Although a mechanical glitch was responsible, Carpenter-the "free spirit" of the Mercury Seven-never flew into space again. But his days as a daring, pioneering explorer were far from over... Carpenter overcame tremendous adversity to go from small-town boy to Navy test pilot, Mercury astronaut, and undersea explorer. Now, writing with his daughter, he breaks his 40-year silence to set the record straight about the Aurora 7 mission, the often ruthless early years at NASA-and the rugged upbringing that produced the man John Glenn has called "one of America's modern heroes."