I have always had an interest in Astronomy and for awhile there pursued the idea of career in that field. However i choose to go down another path and have moved Astronomy into the hobby area for now. As such any time i come across a book to do with Astronomy or Astrophysics, i’ll buy it. Even though in most cases these books just rehash the same material but just cover it in different ways. This book in that regard is no different. There is no new information discussed, in fact the book itself is just an anthology of all Neil deGrasse Tyson’s previous interviews. I picked this gem up at the super secret Booktopia $1 booksale. as i was moving down the isles i saw his (the authors) name on the spine and that alone was enough for me to buy it
The book starts with the history of Astronomy and more importantly human perception of astronomy, going from the days of craziness where religion decreed we were the center of the universe – to the modern times with a better perception of our place in the cosmos. There is quite alot of focus on the US economy as it plays a heavy role in deciding how much money NASA gets and this in turns impacts what programs are successful or not. Surprisingly there were some interesting insights into this process.
While Neil has an impressive knowledge of astronomy, history and pop culture, he does like to use the same anecdotes and since this book is merely an anthology of previous interviews it becomes apparent as there repetition is seen more easily in this book
Perhaps the most disappointing thing with this book, is you get the feeling it is aimed at the american audience. What i mean by this is there is quite alot of discussion of NASAs budget and comparing it to other US expenditures and government activities . While of course since the US is pretty much the biggest avenue of space exploration, i naturally keep a close eye on what its doing even though i have no interest in the politics behind it since i can have no say in that matter.
The book really hits home when even the author states that sometimes when he is at work trying to understand the intricacies of the universe he can forget ” that uncounted people walk this Earth without food or shelter, and that children are disproportionately represented among them ” quite a powerful message to end a book with. Especially after reading the sections about the US budget seeing that they spend more than 8 times the amount of money on the military than they do on education and double the amount they spend on welfare.
But when all is said and done being an anthology of previous interviews etc, doesn’t diminish this book at all. it is still a great read by a great author and leave you walking away with much food for thought