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The Sun: A Biography Hardcover – 19 Nov 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (19 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470092963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470092965
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.4 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 911,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"...Reading this...immensely entertaining work of pop science makes us aware of ...the power of the sun..." (The Herald – Glasgow, 8th January 2005)

"...Whitehouse appears to have explored every possible avenue, and I can only guess at the enormous amount of research this must have required..." (New Scientist, 29th January 2005)

"...a staggering range of content...offering a plethora of facts and a fascinating read..." (Good Book Guide, February 2005)

"...intelligent, safety–goggles–on look at that without–which star that′s intrigued humankind since day one...wide–ranging and excellent." (Insight – Brighton, March 2005)

"...the birth, life, and death of the Sun are carefully considered, exactly as you would expect in any excellent biography. Which is exactly what this book is..." (The Observatory, August 05)

"...a shining example of the way in which main sequence stars such as ours begin, spend, and end their sunny days..." (The Age, Sept 05)

"...well–written and enjoyable..." (Times Educational Supplement, November 4th 05)

"...well written and enjoyable...a useful addition to any teacher′s fountain of knowledge..." (Times Educational Supplement – Scotland, 4th November 2005)

From the Inside Flap

In The Sun, David Whitehouse takes us on a journey to the heart of our local star and beyond, relating how it was born, the many ways it influences life on Earth and how it will die. He recounts the many myths surrounding the Sun and the fascinating stories of scientists throughout history who have attempted to discover its secrets – occasionally at the price of their lives.

The Sun explores the role of the sun for those on Earth, from the earliest civilizations that worshipped it, through its emulation in art and literature to the present day. He describes the inferno at its core, the magnetic chaos of its surface and the furthest reaches of its atmosphere that stretches beyond the planets out into the galaxy. Within our lifetime he considers that changes in the sun will become noticeable, an issue that we ignore at our peril.

Finally, David Whitehouse speculates on the future of life on Earth with a Sun that must ultimately turn into a red giant. From its birth in a cloud of gas and dust, its long lifetime nurturing life on our own planet, to its death as a cosmic cinder, this is our Sun’s story.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ian R Thomas on 12 May 2006
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book a lot having got it after glowing reviews in New Scientist and the Telegraph. I find the criticisms mentioned below unfounded and hard to pin down.

The Sun - A Biography is a fascinating read and extremely well written. I checked the quote by Hobbes and Whitehouse does quote it correctly and he uses it intelligently. The chapter I liked the best was the one on the relationship between the sun and the earth and his comments on global warming made me think.

Whitehouse is clearly a science fiction fan and it was interesting to see references to science fiction books that have dealt with aspects of the sun, especially Ossian's Ride by Fred Hoyle.

I think "A Reader" protests too much with not much of substance to say. To make such vitriolic comments without having the integrity to use his or hers own name is disgraceful and I suspect an ulterior motive - am embittered and jealous rival perhaps? I notice that he or she says they read all of the book before they produced such an unfocused rant. We can draw our own conclusions.

As for those who read New Scientist not learning anything new here - what nonsense. The review in New Scientist was by their astronomy consultant and he said he learned a lot of new things, so did the professor who reviewed it in the Telegraph.

The details in the book are a delight and never less than illuminating and always used in a broad narrative structure that tells the story of the sun and all its aspects. This is not a textbook so I don't expect all the facts to be sourced or to be footnoted and I could not find anything that was wrong,

I found this book a delight and think that the fact that it is written in such an interesting way makes its treatment of the life of the sun as a biography a successful one. Not a conventional biography certainly but then it is not a conventional subject for a biography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Helen Kookie Kahn on 12 May 2006
Format: Paperback
Really liked this book. Written in a confident and engaging style it took me through the life cycle of the sun and put its relationship with the cosmos, the earth and mankind into a fascinating context. It was full of stuff I hadn't come across before and the way he dips into the lives of the scientists who have been captivated (or cursed) by the sun is very interesting and adds to what could have been just a story of atoms and radiation. Many times I put the book down to ponder an amusing turn of phrase or insight.

The general reader will get so much from this book, as will someone very interested in science and even professional researchers will find something new.

It leaves no stone unturned in dealing with the sun and its aspects and the section on photosnthesis and skin colour was a nice digression into biology for a book on a physical subject.

This is an excellent biography of our star, full of science and yes, anecdote and speculation. I have no qualms in giving it five stars.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "peterwilliam21" on 25 Feb 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was inspired to write a few words about this remarkable book by what I consider strange comments by the previous reviewer.
This is a fantastic book. New Scientists called it a treasure trove and a remarkable feat. It is a true biography dealing with all the aspects of the sun, its behaviour, its past and the future. Only someone with a limited view of what a biography should be (like the chap before me) would expect a biography to start with the birth of the sun - then its midlife - then its end.
Sure those are there but there is so much more. Mythology, science, personalities, solar power, influence of the sun on the earth, photosynthesis, why we have dark skins and so much more, all showing how far reaching are the effects of the sun.
The author clearly likes to turn corners in his narrative. This is a strength of his storytelling not a weakness. I can say he kept me spellbound.
I would recommend this remarkable book to anyone - astronomer, those interested in science, those interested in mythology and history and those interested in the future. I see the author has some fascinating things to say about global warming and the sun as well.
I cannot accept what the previous reviewer says. This is one of the best science books I have ever read. Informative, just at the right level and poetic in places. I was sad to reach the end and tracked down David Whitehouse's other book he mentions in the text as well.
Buy it, you will love it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bobby Elliott VINE VOICE on 17 Feb 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I liked the idea of a biography of the Sun. A sort of "blog" of the Sun's development. But the author appears to have taken cold feet (possibly fearing an unevenly paced book). This book is not chronological - in fact, I had difficulty trying to identify any unifying theme. So the title is a puzzle.
Neither is this book "The Sun for Dummies". It's quite dense in parts and the general reader (as I am) will struggle in places (partly through ignorance and partly through boredom). I found it a bit of a struggle to finish the book.
But there's lots of interesting stuff too. I learned a great deal from it. Parts of it are engaging and fascinating.
The result is an odd book. A little heavy for the casual reader and too light for the amateur or professional astronomer. I'm not sure who it was pitched at - and maybe the author wasn't sure either.
Because the book isn't very engaging, I scan read some parts and finished up with only a hazy understanding of some key concepts.
In conclusion: a short, interesting (in parts) book that could and should have been more interesting that it was.
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