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Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First class, 17 Nov. 2007
This review is from: The Story of Astronomy: How the universe revealed its secrets (Hardcover)
You don't have to be an astronomer to appreciate this book. I happened to have it with me at the Society for Popular Astronomy's astronomy course, where the husband of one of the participants started to leaf through the pages. Though his interest is in wildlife rather than astronomy he was immediately hooked, and decided to buy his own copy. If you are expecting a dry academic tome, look elsewhere. But if you want to find out about not just how astronomy has developed from the dawn of time, and the people behind it, all explained in a highly readable text, this is for you.
The authors have put in an impressive amount of background research into the life and times of those people we have all heard of, such as Kepler, turning them from names into real people with lives and loves. When it comes to opinions, we hear at first hand from acknowledged experts in the field, such as Owen Gingerich and Allan Chapman. Their quotes speak directly to you. My only quibble is that they are rarely allowed to 'say' anything, but they 'confide' or 'aver' or 'opine', in the interests of variety, which gets a little tedious at times. The style is Readers' Digest or New Scientist - popular but authoritative.
Though the authors have clearly travelled the world to see the actual sites and talk to the experts, this does not interfere with the narrative and I have come across far more personalised works from some well-known names. This is far more than a quick pot-boiler of a book with research courtesy of Wikipedia and a day in a library. There are occasional lapses in editing - it doesn't know whether to use UK or US spelling, for example - but these would probably escape anyone other than another editor.
To sum up, this is an excellent book, and as well as gracing your coffee table with its illustrations, many of which are different from those you see elsewhere, it is a great read. I do know the authors (as do many in the field), but I do not pull punches and am happy to have this review under my own name.
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Location: Bucks, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 5,992,432