Goodman’s second book in the Star Trek Universe, The Autobiography of James T. Kirk documents the life of the man who would become legend, Captain Kirk.
The Autobiography of James T. Kirk chronicles the greatest Starfleet captain’s life (2233–2371), in his own words. From his birth on the U.S.S. Kelvin, his youth spent on Tarsus IV, his time in the Starfleet Academy, his meteoric raise through the ranks of Starfleet, and his illustrious career at the helm of the Enterprise, this in-world memoir uncovers Captain Kirk in a way Star Trek fans have never seen.
Kirk’s singular voice rings throughout the text, giving insight into his convictions, his bravery, and his commitment to the life — in all forms — throughout this Galaxy and beyond. Excerpts from his personal correspondence, captain’s logs, and more give Kirk’s personal narrative further depth.
’The Autobiography of James T. Kirk’ book review
Coinciding with the 49th birthday of The Original Series, The Autobiography of James T. Kirk serves as the perfect accompaniment for any fan looking to revisit the series with a refreshing new perspective on the well-known and beloved character. It also features some new, beautiful images and illustrations in the center of the book, including Kirk’s Academy class graduation photo and a letter for his son that he never sent.
This book is definitely one for the fans. More than a passing knowledge of most of the episodes is a must, especially as the book doesn’t retread the plots in detail — more references them in a clever way and approaches the reaction to those events from a different angle. In particular, the handling of “The City on the Edge of Forever” was a joy, most especially the relationship between Kirk and Edith Keeler. Edith leaves a mark on Kirk that remains throughout the book, and we are left with no doubt over the fact that she was the love of Kirk’s life — rather than Carol Marcus, the mother of Kirk’s son, who many might’ve assumed would’ve taken on that position.
Oh, and keep an eye out for just how the events of Star Trek V are handled. It’s, in a word, perfect.
The Autobiography of James T. Kirk doesn’t shy away from Kirk’s flaws, it wholeheartedly embraces them. It approaches the very fact that throughout The Original Series that Kirk is an absent father, who left his son for his job. It presents a sometimes-insecure side to Kirk, and highlights his struggles, which ultimately makes his rise to Starfleet hero all the more interesting for it.
Though Kirk and Spock’s friendship is one of the defining points of the series, and something that even casual fans are aware of, it’s the expanding on the relationship between Leonard “Bones” McCoy and Kirk that really stands apart from the rest. There’s still a lot of Kirk and Spock throughout, you can hardly expect there not to be, but the relationship between the Chief Medical Officer and the Captain flourishes under Goodman’s hand — including an explanation of where McCoy got his nickname, which is different from Abrams’ origination in his Star Trek movie. They may not have been fast-friends from the word go, but their connection over their absence in their children’s lives sets them on that path and grounds them in their humanity — something that Star Trek has always excelled at, despite its fantastical setting.
Both McCoy and Spock remark on Kirk in the foreword and afterword of the book. McCoy states that Kirk is “the greatest hero who ever lived,” and Spock writes “his work and accomplishments make him one of the greatest men who ever lived. That is objective fact; as a Vulcan, I am incapable of hyperbole.”
Captain Kirk was never perfect, and he is still undoubtedly a hero, but this book shines a light on what he is more than anything else — human.