Cosmos Mass Market Paperback – October 12, 1985
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I was positive from my own experience that an enormous global interest exists in the exploration of the planets and in many kindred scientific topics--the origin of life, the Earth, and the Cosmos, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, our connection with the universe. And I was certain that this interest could be excited through that most powerful communications medium, television.
Sagan's own interest and enthusiasm for the universe were so vivid and infectious, his screen presence so engaging, that viewers and readers couldn't help but be caught up in his vision. From stars in their "billions and billions" to the amino acids in the primordial ocean, Sagan communicated a feeling for science as a process of discovery. Inevitably, some of the science in Cosmos has been outdated in the years since 1980--but Sagan's sense of wonder is ageless. --Mary Ellen Curtin
“Sagan is an astronomer with one eye on the stars, another on history, and a third—his mind’s—on the human condition.”—Newsday
“Brilliant in its scope and provocative in its suggestions . . . shimmers with a sense of wonder.”—The Miami Herald
“Sagan dazzles the mind with the miracle of our survival, framed by the stately galaxies of space.”—Cosmopolitan
“Enticing . . . iridescent . . . imaginatively illustrated.”—The New York Times Book Review
- Grade level : 3 - 7
- Item Weight : 6.9 ounces
- Mass Market Paperback : 324 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-0345331359
- Product dimensions : 4.2 x 1.01 x 6.89 inches
- Publisher : Ballantine Books; Reissue edition (October 12, 1985)
- Reading level : 8 - 12 years
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #467,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This book is far beyond an ordinary astronomy general interest read. Its contents incorporate genetics, ancient history, chemical biology, sociology, religion, human psychology and philosophy... Dr Sagan weaves these realms together in the context of the Cosmos, and raises intriguing questions about hypothetical alternate turn of events as well as where we (humankind) go from here. He pays homage to the brilliant minds whose work and courage has contributed to our current technical capabilities. From Erastosthenes' astute calculation of the Earth's circumference, to Kepler’s observations, to Einstein's special theory of relativity (and those in between: Huygens, Brahe, Newton, Champollion etc.), Sagan not only highlights their contribution, but discusses the societal circumstances that these individuals found themselves in. In doing so, he invokes a scrutiny of our current societal climate and behaviors. Are we doing our best to build and maintain a society that values the pursuit of knowledge over one that may eventually crumble under self-destructive greed? Are we investing an adequate amount of resources (both monetary and intellect) on constructive, self-preserving causes? Sagan goes as far as to compare government spendings on military weapons with scientific research funding, and demonstrates how far will have still to go before our loyalties are united not just within nation-states, but as a species of Planet Earth.
Dr Sagan’s intrigues are not limited to Western ways of thinking. Instead, he pays deep respect to the cultures, achievements, and creation myths around the world - this was done through anecdotes from ancient Chinese, Egyptian, and Indian history as well as various tribal accounts. By doing so, he demonstrates that human intrigue has more in common than we may first assume. The early civilizations around the Earth, long before they knew of one another, independently devised theories about how we came to be based on their observations of the heavens. These were passed on to their descendants through subsequent generations ultimately resulting in what we may believe or know of today.
I wonder what Dr Sagan would have thought about the state of the world today… recent election results, SpaceX, virtual reality, artificial intelligence/machine learning, Kepler missions, CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, instability in the Middle East, the Higgs Boson… My guess is that he would simultaneously be alarmed that we are STILL arguing whether or not climate change is a problem, and amazed at our technological achievements with the internet and a legitimate goal to visit Mars. I would without a doubt recommend this book to everyone. A scientific degree is not necessary to fully appreciate the lesson and message that this book conveys. Dr Sagan’s literary style is not only comprehensible but so finely depicts his deep passion for the sciences that it is almost poetic. After having read the book, one could truly dwell on what we can do to unify ourselves as citizens of Planet Earth, with a mutual interest of survival, pursuit of interplanetary/interstellar travel and constant discovery of what our universe has to offer.
In a lot of ways, Carl Sagan shaped my life. I had always been interested in astronomy and cosmology. My first memory as a young child is seeing the Moon in the sky. As a junior in high school biology I read his book "The Cosmic Connection", my first introduction to Sagan. I was hooked.
I recently ordered this edition as a gift. I quickly read through it and was both relieved and dismayed that it hadn't been updated. It appears to be the same book. I was glad that Sagan's words hadn't been (apparently) changed. I do think that Tyson and Druyan might have added chapters that would highlight discoveries made since Sagan's death.
I can't look at a picture of Mars or Jupiter without thinking of Carl Sagan. What would he have thought about the Cassini probe around Saturn, the Titan lander or New Horizons at Pluto? Uranus or Neptune? Or that his children have left the interplanetary domain and are now in interstellar space?
I reordered this book again for moi. Welcome home, Carl.
The colour photos are great and it's almost impossible to find a good-quality hardcover copy these days for less than a bank loan.
If a kid is into this instead of the vacuousness black hole of the social media nightmare, I'm happy to pay for a new copy!!
Top reviews from other countries
Sagan writes majestically, explaining otherwise complex issues and problems in a manner that makes them far more easily comprehensible. Everything from the origins of the universe to the formation of galaxies, from the processes that build planets to the evolution of life, is discussed eloquently. Sagan describes the cosmos in an imaginative way, drawing-in the reader and retaining attention throughout. This is as far away as possible from a 'dry' scientific text ... instead it entices the reader's fascination and clearly shows the cosmos for what it truly is: awesome.
This is the perfect book for anyone who's interested in finding out more about physics, cosmology, astronomy and astrobiology. It's a fantastic introductory book, and is suitable for both adults and older teenagers. I've read through it a few times, and it's my favourite 'science' book. I highly recommend it.
The Ballentine book version is an absolute delight with superb paper quality and print. I recommend Ballentine book version. Buy it by searching for Neil degrasse.
Turn on any TV these days and there will be channels with one of more science , history or arts programmes.
Some 26 years ago (1980) these programmes were relatively rare and a classic 13 one hour episode science programme entitled the Cosmos was presented as a personal view by one Carl Sagan ( sometime participant of various NASA space programmes and cosmological investigations then Director of Planetary studies at Cornell University) . An accompanying book to the series was also written and published. It covered right up until the Voyager mission views of Jupiter and Saturn in 1977-1979. (Voyager 2 – still active in 2016 – has just passed Pluto and left the conventional Solar system – not bad for 1975 technology. Its onboard power source – a mini nuclear reactor – should last another 10 years)
The hardback book contains both script and illustrations and can be obtained as good quality second hand ,for very reasonable prices.
A book allows stopping , pausing , thinking , reversing and rereading the text but for those who want the full visual experience ( film/TV presentation being intrinsically different to books with the sight , sounds , narration and a flowing story line to hold the attention) . The TV series had updates added some 10 years later and in 2000 , a DVD transfer was released. The TV series also featured a music soundtrack taken from “Heaven and hell” ( (Vangelis 1975) .
Obviously there have been many advances / updates in the last 30 or so years but I can still recommend both as an example of the thoughts and presentation of the times . Carl Sagan , a great communicator , sadly died in 1996
Rate 5 star as classic examples of their time covering the Cosmos ( as it seemed then) . The series ended very topically with a view of our the earth , and the threats faced by the latter - comparing the possible outcomes of irresponsible misuse of the planets resources to the planetary hell of Venus and the cold desolation of Mars.
(Note there has been a recent re casting of the original series by Neil de Grasse Tyson ( written in conjunction with Carl Sagan’s widow) – also available on DVD and Blu Ray. The content is more up to date but many still prefer the older Sagan version with less reliance on CGI.)