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April Book Choice

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American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World by David Baron

This month’s book chosen by Clara is a non-fiction book, which features a new afterword priming readers for the next total solar eclipse. This “essential’ (BBC) account brilliantly captures the celestial and human drama of eclipses.

With this “suspenseful narrative history” (Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air), award-winning science writer David Baron tells the story of the enterprising scientists—among them, planet hunter James Craig Watson, pioneering astronomer Maria Mitchell, and ambitious young inventor Thomas Edison—who raced to Wyoming and Colorado in the summer of 1878, at the dawn of the Gilded Age, to observe the first great American eclipse.  Thrillingly re-creating the fierce jockeying of these nineteenth-century astronomers, Baron draws on years of “exhaustive research to reconstruct a remarkable chapter of U.S. history” (Lee Billings, Scientific American), when the fate of American science still hung precariously in the balance. 

Now updated with an afterward that unites eclipses and eclipse-chasers past and present—revisiting the total solar eclipse of 2017 and looking forward to those of 2024, 2026, and beyond—American Eclipse reveals the enduring power of these ethereal events to bring people together across space and time.  (Taken from the back cover; 2024)

The author

David Baron has served as science correspondent for NPR and chair in astrobiology at the Library of Congress.  He is also the author of The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature.  He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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