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The Cosmic Perspective by Jeffrey O. Bennett
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This review is mostly concerned with the German translation which preserves too many flaws of the original work. At 3,5 kg, this hefty tome offers a wide range of topics, too many in my view. The authors never define their topic (the German edition changes the title to "astronomy" but fails to include a definition of astronomy in its glossary). Coupled with an easily readable text (in my view targeted at high school and not university students), the text expands without direction. A hundred pages are quickly filled without advancing far into the topic. Much of the text has remedial function and (hopefully) repeats what every school should have taught (some elements such as the cookie-cutter intro to Arab contributions to science seem derived mostly from recent US military adventures. A real treatment would at least mention Islamic Spain.). Overall, the book follows the cookbook approach: If you search long enough, you'll find most dishes covered. "Mastering astronomy", as its software claims, is something else.

The German translation suffers from keeping too close to the original. US examples are not adapted to a German or European audience. Most will not know the locations of Charleston, SC, and San Diego, CA, nor the relative position of Baltimore, MD, and Washington, DC. A real translation would have changed these to locations known to the audience. This holds true for persons too. Carl Sagan might be (still?) known to Americans but certainly not to young Europeans. The translators also kept the completely irrelevant (for a German audience) explanations of AM/PM. Fortunately, Imperial units are not relevant to astronomy (except when NASA messes up)! Nods to the religious nutcases might be a necessity in the US educational market, but should not have no place in a European science book.

Overall, I would not recommend it for education purposes as at 3,5 kg it is not easily portable and its language is not sophisticated enough for university use. The book is still valuable for a lay reader interested in remedial physics or in search of astronomical nuggets. ( )
  jcbrunner | Jan 31, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jeffrey O. Bennettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Donahue, Meganmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Schneider, Nicholasmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Voit, Markmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805387625, Paperback)

Cosmic Perspective, 3rd Edition

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:40 -0400)

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