39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2005
This is the best read I have had for years! This marvellous Autobiography certainly depicts Sir Patrick's truly amazing character. This new and revised paperback is full of phenomenal stories and memories. My favourite part of the book is when Sir Patrick describes his meeting with Albert Einstein:
"Einstein was a talented violinist, and on this occasion he had a violin with him ... Pressed to show his skill, he said that he needed an accompanist. There was a piano to hand - and so there was Einstein playing Saint-Saens' Swan to my accompaniment."
When reading the Autobiography, I felt as though I was actually speaking with Patrick; it is remarkable the way his character shines through in the book - a shining star! All in all this is a fascinating and entertaining book, which would suit anyone who loves a good read!
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 28 February 2005
This is a fascinating, informative and highly-entertaining book which conveys the passion and humanity of its illustrious author. Moore writes authoratively about astronomy but the book always remains accessible to the average reader. When explaining why only rockets can be used for flight above the top of the atmosphere, he writes:
"Aircraft depend upon having air around them, and there is not much air above a few tens of miles, so that aircraft won't work. Rockets, on the other hand, depend upon what Isaac Newton called the "principle of reaction", every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so that a rocket will, so to speak, push against itself. If this baffles you, blow up a balloon and then suddenly let the air rush out. The balloon will shoot across the room, because it is being pushed by the air streaming out of its exhaust. In a rocket, a jet of gas is produced by a special kind of motor, usually involving a "fuel" and a "propellant", which when mixed together generate heat and send the gases out through the rocket exhaust."
However, the author's attention is not reserved exclusively for extra-terrestrial matters. He describes his fanaticism for cricket and humourously refers to his " curious leg-breaks, delivered at medium pace off a long, kangaroo-hop run and a cartwheel action". I especially enjoyed a delicious chapter entitled "The Tale of Mr Twitmarsh" in which he relishes in mocking incompetent bureaucracy. Forthright views on foxhunting and the European Union also reveal a man who is very much interested in current affairs. Yet the book reveals pathos, too. Patrick has remained a reluctant bachelor following the death of Lorna, " the only girl for me", killed by the Nazis in 1943.
I found this book compelling. It modestly sets its author in the context of the twentieth century and I was fascinated by Moore's decription of his meetings with famous individuals, including Orville Wright, the pioneering aviator, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first men on the moon, Einstein, H G Wells, Rachmaninov and The Beatles.
In short, an excellent read for a modest investment.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2006
Insightful, entertaining, refreshingly politically incorrect and ultimately human. This story, written on his 1908 typewriter, on which he was written every book and article credited to him, tells the story of a great English institution, a man perfectly comfortable with his beliefs. Some readers may decide to take offence over his use of old fashioned racial terms, as I did at first- but then I decided to grow up. I look forward to his fiftieth year presenting sky at night, for which incidentally he has never had a contract, just a gentleman's agreement.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 2009
Patrick Moore is perhaps the last great amateur Scientist (although I hope that there are still others out there). He contribution to the mapping of the Moon was significant and appreciated by the Russians in their lunar missions. He is also something of an accretion point of the wonderful British tradition of eccentricity. Reading through the book is not only fascinating but also evokes wonderful nostalgia for the period. The BBC with good in-depth Science programs; excellent traditional A-Levels; cricket; tea and scones; lovely summer evenings; rationality and science to the fore. I digress somewhat but this is how I felt when reading.
Patrick Moore is a fascinating and warm person and I recommend this autobiography to anyone who wishes to understand more about this British institution.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2006
A wonderful read and a great insight into the world’s best loved astronomer. Simply, the most funny, sometimes sad, serious and entertaining book that I have read in a long time.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2013
'The Sky at Night' is a programme which has fascinated me for years. It was so sad to hear in December that the many thousands who, like me, delighted in the programme, would never again see Sir Patrick Moore in his element. Since his death, many tributes have been made by those who knew him intimately. It is clear that he touched the hearts of so many, and in particular the multitudes of young people who were inspired by him to develop a love for all things astronomy. Though I did not know him, I too found him to be a truly remarkable man - a rare gem of a human being.
So rather belately, I have been prompted to read his 'autobiography', written 10 years ago when he was in his eighties. What an enjoyable read - full of energy and enthusiasm and fascinating material. What impressed me most were the chapters on astronomy, which clearly conveyed his enormous enthusiasm for the subject, and conveyed it in a way which communicated so effectively with the reader. I also very much enjoyed his accounts of the other loves of his life, principally - his mother - his friends - his young prodigies - his cats - cricket and music.
However he has clearly not told us the whole story. Though he states that it would have been of no interest to the reader, I would have loved to have heard more of his childhood and his wartime experiences. So often, those early experiences give strong clues as to what makes a person tick. Of course, Patrick was perfectly within his rights to with-hold that information - so I suppose we will have to await a biography to learn more.
What I found less impressive were the chapters which related to his pet aversions, which appear to be - foreigners, women and a great swathe of people whom he disparagingly labels 'politically correct'. I was left unsure whether he was just trying to be amusing or whether he had really thought through some of his utterances. And there are apparent contradictions. For example: a very young Dr Heather Couper can write to him to ask whether being a girl is a handicap to being an astronomer and he can write back to reassure her that it certainly is not. Yet he can later express his dislike for 'all female radio newsreaders' and claim that 'third-rate women' are 'promoted over more able men'. In expressing his general dislike for politicians, he can describe William Hague as 'a twerp of a leader', yet later refer to receiving a '... charming letter from WH, then leader of the Conservative Party'. Perhaps understandably given his wartime experience, he can repeatedly express an enduring hatred for Germans, yet when he later met von Braun, the Nazi inventor of the V2 rocket, he expresses surprise that he felt 'no sense of instant dislike'.
Other reviewers find Patrick's aversions amusing. I found them at best irritating and at worst potentially sinister, but I have to say that in other ways I found his many achievements totally impressive. He was clearly warm hearted and kind to so many people. He was modest and self-effacing. He was generous to a degree. He was a very good writer. And he brought pleasure to thousands, including myself. Overall, I liked this book. I shall read more of his books. And I eagerly await a biography - but who to write it?
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2008
Mr Moore is certainly an usual character and this comes across strongly in his autobiography.
The book goes through his life, focusing particularly on his involvement in the world of astronomy. He has certainly been prominent (and remains so, even in his old age) in this field and the book explains this and his TV career, well. Although the book is roughly chronological I did find that it ordering was sometime a little mixed-up but this is ironed out by the second half of the book.
I think that some modern readers will disagree with some of his views but one must admire him for at least being frank (one suspects that many people who adhere apparently unthinkingly to politically correct views are in fact moral cowards who in reality hold quite different views!)...at least Moore express what he honest feels.
Overall though it is an interesting and in places moving read by a very unique man!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2012
I have always been interested in astronomy and have grown up watching the Sky at Night presented by Sir Patrick. I bought this book some years ago in paperback and was pleased when it became available on the Kindle. It is a great read with details about his life and his achievements as well as being full of his witty humour. It has a lot of behind the scenes information about a lot of important events in history. A great read, I would recommend it to anyone.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2010
After having read this remarkable book, I agree with all the other befitting reviews:
Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore, CBE, HonFRS, FRAS, seems to be a fixed point in a changing generation - a man of immense intelligence, integrity and wit.
I can only add, that to get to know an author, one must read their work; therefore, I advise you to read this most interesting, educational, warm-hearted, witty and very refreshing book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 May 2013
First things first: It is a good read. Patrick's experiences as an amateur astronomer are very entertaining and often amusing. He was nearing the last few years of his life when he wrote this book, and wisely and happily for us, he completely discards political correctness, giving his honest, common sense opinions on a multitude of subjects.There is no malice in his opinions, but to anyone who has been prodded down the modern straight and narrow pc road, his forthright views might seem a bit shocking (Not nasty, just shocking)
This is not the usual educational, instructive, and rather dry book on astronomy, but rather the interesting ramblings of a television astronomy presenter (The Sky at Night) giving his take on life, the highs and lows, the sad times, the good times, often brimming with humour, plus, of course lots of interesting tales from his career in astronomy.
I enjoyed reading the book. I think that you will too.