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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a long newspaper article, July 4, 2011
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This review is from: First Contact: Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth (Hardcover)
To quote the beginning of the Sources section, "I went into reporting of First Contact with more than three decades of journalism and writing experience but limited knowledge of the many scientific disciplines that make up astrobiology." And it shows. He spends a lot of time setting scenes, describing the habits and quirks of the scientists he interviews and the offices/labs they work in. I think he does a competent job of summarizing the interviews he had with scientists, but he seems almost more interested in them than in the subject matter. I don't get the sense he's really trying to understand the material himself, he's just "reporting" it.

It reminds me of newspaper articles about complex subjects that begin with an anecdote, like an article on the national unemployment rate that begins with a paragraph on some random guy in the heartland looking for work. If you like those personal anecdotes you'll probably like the style of this book. If you think those anecdotes are spongy filler and are impatient to get to the substance of an article then his newspaper style of writing might wear on you.

It's not a bad book, if you didn't know anything about astrobiology it would be a decent introduction to the subject, but I've read much better science books by other authors who also weren't scientists. I'd suggest waiting for the paperback.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 10, 2011 12:51:22 PM PDT
Kent Budge says:
Given that astrobiology has yet to find a single example of life beyond the Earth to study, it's understandable that anyone writing about it would focus on the scientists rather than the science.
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