Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium Paperback – May 12 1998
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From Library Journal
It is doubtful that there is anyone unfamiliar with noted astronomer and science writer Sagan's ability to convey the wonder, excitement, and joy of science. This book is a wonderful, if eclectic, collection of essays, some reprinted from magazines of national prominence, covering a wide range of topics: the invention of chess, life on Mars, global warming, abortion, international affairs, the nature of government, and the meaning of morality. Writing with clarity and an understanding of human nature, Sagan offers hope for humanity's future as he illuminates our ability to understand ourselves and to change the world for the better. The last chapter is an account of his struggle with myelodysplasia, the illness that finally took his life in December 1996. An epilog written by his wife is a personal account of the man rather than the scientist admired by so many. This last book is a fitting capstone to a distinguished career. Enthusiastically recommended.
-?James Olson, Northeastern Illinois Univ. Lib., Chicago
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Carl Sagan died last December, and as a result, these essays exude a feeling of interrupted eloquence. The celebrity planetary astronomer possibly had more books to write that could have compared favorably with his Cosmos (1980) or Pale Blue Dot (1994), but disappointingly, this collection does not bloom like those dependable library perennials. Perhaps expectations are overly inflated with a new Sagan exposition in hand--but here, expectations rapidly deflate upon seeing that the contents comprise much reprinted material, such as nonscience articles he and his wife and coauthor, Ann Druyan, wrote for a Sunday newspaper supplement. One Parade piece, advancing their argument in favor of legal abortion, sourly criticizes televangelist Pat Robertson for using his influence to mobilize opposition to the 1990 article, a point that skates over the sway the authors themselves were trying to exert in the abortion controversy by means of their article. In other chapters, the subjects are flat--an explanation of the origin of Sagan's brand-name cliche"billions and billions" --or the subjects are rudimentary. Blemishes apart, this collection offers some worthwhile essays: his account of battling cancer or summaries of the enviro-political issues that he weighed in on, such as ozone depletion and the fossil fuels^-atmospheric warming nexus. However uneven and eclectic, this tome still flashes with Sagan's curiosity, wonder, and humanity concerning the scientific enterprise. Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
All in all, definitely worth reading. Pity that we don't have him around to share his views on what is going on in today's world !
What he is against in these essays, as his widow, Ann Druyan, notes in her Epilogue on page 228, are "the forces of superstition and fundamentalism." Sagan is preeminently the champion of education and reason as the means to better our life, and the implacable enemy of ignorance. (For "superstition and fundamentalism," read "ignorance," plain and simple.) In some respects this book is a continuation of his volume from the year before, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, but the emphasis here is on the problems confronting us and what can be done about them. In particular, Sagan confronts the depletion of the ozone layer, global warming, pollution, the threat of nuclear war, overpopulation, etc. He asks the question (the title of Part II), "What Are Conservatives Conserving?" and gives the answer, their short-sighted bottom line.Read more ›
Those of you that watched the Cosmos series and enjoyed his work will also enjoy educating yourself on microbiological ideas and insights. The book is very readable and designed to be read for by a layperson. I hope that people that voted republican this year has a clearer insight on how the Republican Party is for big business and not for the future, nor for your children's well being. What surprises me most is when we vote in a president that is in the back pocket of big oil, and most people that voted for him have little to gain except for a few bucks on tax decreases and whole lot more CFCs.
This book and Sagan's essasys are especially pertinent when Bush and his hacks want to roll back the reductions on CFCs for his coporate buddies in Texas. Read this book, learn from an educated scientific scholar and don't listen to political rhetoric from a greedy elistist like our current president, GW Bush.
I have read most of his popular works on science and he is one of the best, on the order of Isaac Asimov or Stephen Jay Gould. In looking back at his career, it is easy to overlook his substantial accomplishments in astronomy. The first time I was exposed to his work was from an article in National Geographic where he was cited for his work in exobiology. My second exposure was when I slogged through the book "Intelligent Life in the Universe" that he wrote in collaboration with I. S. Schlokovskii. Heady reading for a middle school student. While I may not have understood the material, I did recognize the quality of the work.
The main theme of this book is the severe environmental problems that this planet currently faces. Despite the reluctance of some to accept the data, there can be little doubt that the planet is heating up and the most logical explanation is human activity. The burning of fossil fuel is pumping enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This gas captures solar energy at a rate far in excess of its true percentage in the atmosphere. In second place is the destruction of the ozone layer, where once again small amounts generate a cascading effect far beyond the amounts.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Modesty was a bit difficult for Sagan. The first we learn of the author is that he was a celebrity. Witness the Tonight Show appearances and the Parade Magazine articles (and Sagan... Read morePublished on April 27 2003 by Wesley L. Janssen
I think Brett Williams felt attacked by this book. It is certainly true that it challenges a lot of modern ideas about the world and how we all fit into it. Read morePublished on Feb. 14 2003 by ectron
Sagan ushered in a new opportunity for science - to be comprehensible and uplifting to the masses. The power of science was made manifest by Sagan through his ability to write... Read morePublished on July 24 2002 by Brett Williams
I've used this book in a unique way, being able to site it in just about every paper I wrote for a science class this year. Read morePublished on May 23 2002 by Benjamin Thompson
Carl Sagan was surely a man with perspective. He was involved in great scientific teams and proyects, but he was not only a Scientist doing science in isolation, he had deep... Read morePublished on May 21 2002 by Sergio A. Salazar Lozano
In this work Carl Sagan approaches many of the more philisophical questions that are begged by pondering the nature of the cosmos and the human condidtion. Read morePublished on April 23 2002 by B. P. Hayek
This book blew my mind. I've read it 3 times, each time learning something new.
This is a complete mind-ride of a book covering a plethora of intriguing topics- explained in... Read more
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