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Starred Review. Cohen (By the Sword) visited 18 countries to gather information for this ambitious and unusual literary opus, including Peru, where he witnessed the reenactment of an Inca ceremony welcoming the summer solstice, and Japan, where he climbed a snow-covered Mt. Fuji. He hunted the mythology embedded in the works of Shakespeare, Nabokov ("I must be the only person to have read Lolita for its Sun images"), Dante, Chaucer, and other authors, and personally examined the orientation of the Egyptian Pyramids and European cathedrals. This vast effort touches on the modern age shepherded by Copernicus and Galileo, and the author labels 200 discoveries related to solar energy in the 1870s a "scientific revolution" which would lead directly to the hydrogen bomb. He goes on to sound a cautionary note on climate change extremism, warning that there is still no consensus on the influence of solar cycles on climate (he goes so far as to raise the possibility of another ice-age). Cohen was compelled to write "the sort of book I'd like to read," a risky position for a writer seeking a broad readership, but one that more than pays off.
Formerly a publisher, Cohen decided to write the work he couldn’t sign an author for: a cultural and scientific history of the sun. The result is this information-packed miscellany on solar worship and solar studies, studded with evocative illustrations throughout. Not content to integrate research from books, Cohen traveled extensively for his project, visiting places like Mount Fuji, which some people profoundly connect with the sun. Spanning the globe from China to Antarctica to Stonehenge, Cohen’s curiosity pulls in monuments and gods, scientists and their discoveries about the physical sun, and solar fads such as tanning. If polarized sunglasses didn’t make it into Cohen’s enthusiastic excursus, popular songs like the Beatles Here Comes the Sun did, showing Cohen in a culturally eclectic light. With its pages as likely to turn from sunspots to sunlight’s play in famous paintings, Cohen’s medley will surprise and delight his readers, who will absorb humanity’s evolving view of the sky’s blazing orb, from deity to fusion-powered furnace. With its cultural ambit, Cohen’s compendium might better the popularity of a straight-up science title such as Nearest Star (2001), by Leon Golub and Jay M. Pasachoff. --Gilbert TaylorSee all Editorial Reviews
Engrossing fascinating tale of adventure and real-life guts and glory experience of a lifetimePublished 1 month ago by Star Gazer
Within our universe the sun is rated as a mediocre star, but within our solar system the sun is the nucleus and regulator of all aspects of life, and thus stands out as our unique... Read morePublished 13 months ago by aron row
Requires a lot of concentration to absorb the ideas but worth the effort. A broad sweep of scientific and historical views.Published 20 months ago by magpie
This book is an interesting collection of many angles on the Sun, from mythological and cultural, to artistic, astronomical, medical (sun-triggered diseases, and sun-derived cures)... Read morePublished on April 18, 2013 by Alyssa A. Lappen
The sun, as we all know, is huge. And it makes for a huge topic as well. I don't know if Cohen covers everything there is about (or under) the sun, but he certainly makes a valiant... Read morePublished on April 5, 2013 by B. Capossere
This is the most comprehensive book about the Sun that I have read. I was astounded at the wide range of subjects that are detailed in it. Read morePublished on February 7, 2013 by Steven Magee
I came across this book at a bookstore in Bangkok and became engrossed in it during periods when I preferred to be inside an air conditioned room rather than being out in the... Read morePublished on January 29, 2013 by Byron
This is an impressive encyclopedic resource of all things Sun-related. Clearly this is a labor of love for the author, who covered more solar connections than I'd ever considered... Read morePublished on January 20, 2013 by Jill Florio
In "Chasing the Sun", Richard Cohen presents to us a masterpiece of the history and impact our little star has had on the influence of mankind throughout history to the present. Read morePublished on January 18, 2013 by Sassan31