'Cosmos' has been one of the key popular science books since it appeared on the shelves, and it is mostly as relevant now as when it was first written. Sagan is obviously fascinated and passionate about astronomy and cosmology and that passion is evident on every page. This book looks a great deal at the question of extraterrestrial life and evidence for or against, as well as wider questions of astronomy and the universe. This looks at such a variety of topics to illustrate the points Sagan makes, from egyptian hieroglyphics to brain function, nuclear war to ancient Greek science and more besides, that there is something to engage and interest everyone. Each chapter is beautifully summed up with a final thought by Sagan that manages to be stirring and poetic nearly every time. In addition, each chapter is also begun with quotes from various texts and scholars from over the years which gives a good feel for the chapter to come. This book could have been improved with diagrams to illustrate, and clarify, some of the points made by Sagan, but this is a minor gripe. If you liked this book I HIGHLY recommend 'Big Bang' by Simon Singh which has much of this information, and more besides, written in a clear and coherent way and with more up-to-date research and discoveries. In some respect, although I liked this book, I'd recommend 'Big Bang' more due to this more modern rendering of the same story and information. Overall though, for a classic scientific text and for a fascinating and thought provoking read, you can't go far wrong in looking here.
Dedicated to Stephen A. Haines whose reviews inspired me to read some amazing science books and who will be greatly missed.
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