A true vulgarisation book written by a very talented author that I did not know. Dr Grinspoon has a certain talent to make complex and perhaps boring subject lively. His sense of humour also really does add to the story. The book starts from the beginning with the Maya, their veneration for Venus/Kukulkan, then later presents an overall approach to the planet. Later on, the exploration history is presented. This was my favourite part. The golden age of exploration with the Russian Venera, Pioneer, Magellan, etc. Finally, the author discusses quite at lengths the similarities between earth and Venus. The atmosphere, tectonics, climate, etc. are discussed quite often in a very relax and informative writing style. Another good series of addition was the author’s frequent remarks on the budget and financial issues of space exploration. Space exploration often gets the criticism that why spending money on space programs while we have so much problems on earth? I was aware that strategic bombers were costing formidable amount of money that could finance quantities of space programs but could not believe sending another probe to Venus would cost only 200millions. This is less than $1 per American citizen or the cost of the making of Waterworld movie. Another great thing with the book is its lavish illustrations. Photos are superbs and the diagrams are excellent, simple and efficient. A wonderful book that was for me impossible to put down.
A very good introduction to Venus from our early ideas about the planet, our increase in knowledge thanks to the advent of the space age. The book contains aside from spacecraft images, easy to understand diagrams that better explain metrological and geological processes going on on the planet. A good read.