Review of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Phillip Helbig

The Observatory, 139, 1271, 157–158 (August 2019)


This is a book review of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson, a book adapted from essays published in Natural History magazine. Tyson does a very good job: the book is well written; the chapters are self-contained; the material is up-to-date; the topics are those which interest the general public the most (cosmology, laws of nature, the place of Earth and humanity in the universe, etc.); even some of the jokes are funny. Tyson hosted Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a documentary television series which was a follow up to _Cosmos: A Personal Voyage_, by Carl Sagan was noted not only for his content but also for his prose, which managed to be spiritual yet atheistic at the same time. The last chapter in Tyson's book, "Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective", reminds me of and is a worthy successor to Sagan's sense of awe and wonder when contemplating humanity's place in the universe. The small size of the book is well suited to the indended readership---the book is convenient to read on a train or plane. Perhaps, if he were alive today, Lucretius would write a similar book, casting what we know about the Universe in an almost poetic form suitable for the proverbial man on the street, but without loss of accuracy. Recommended.


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