The subject of this book has been one of my abiding interests since high school. My daughter strongly recommended it to me, with the assurance that it contained one of the best descriptions of general relativity for the layman, woven into the captivating story of the black hole at the center of our galaxy. Finally, someone who is directly involved with frontline research on this topic has taken the time to write about it in language that nonexperts can understand. Why is it that others don't do the same?
Hooray for Carolyn Collins Petersen, who wrote a review of this book for the January issue of Sky and Telescope. She absolutely captured the essence of this worthwhile read, and convinced me to pick up a copy of my own. I agree with her assessment wholeheartedly. Melia's book is a detective story, but more than that, it's an up-to-date account of what black hole astronomers are aiming for. The only thing I was somewhat disappointed with was that the last chapter ended too early. The subject of supermassive black holes in general deserves a lengthier discussion.
I chose this book for my assignment this semester on how science is conveyed to the general public. The question is always, do you paint a superficial picture, watering down the material to make it more "palatable", or do you keep all the details and risk losing the majority of the audience? Well, it seems that sometimes it IS possible to stay true to the science and yet explain things in a way that everyone can understand. Fulvio Melia writes with the style of a storyteller, at times with passion, and always with obvious attention to the reader's needs.