These three French scientists have written the near perfect 'popular' science book .......a delight for the enquiring layman and cognoscenti alike.
The exploration of Mars over the past 50 years is undoubtedly one of the miracles of the modern age. Within a human lifetime Mars has gone from an image of a blurred blob in a telescope to a truly mind-boggling tale of discovery and knowledge, and this book has brilliantly summarized this explosion of understanding - replete with illuminating illustrations and photos.
Sure, there are dozens of books on the subject, but nothing I have come across compares with this beautifully conceived and richly informative book - an A to Z from the planet's earliest genesis right through its brutal history to the present. Every conceivable aspect of our knowledge is presented here: rivers, seas, mountains, climate, chemistry, volcanoes, canyons etc and the still to be resolved possibility of life.
By comparison, Roving Mars (Steve Squires) catches the thrill and challenge of the MER project, Postcards from Mars (Jim Bell) has some wonderful images but without any useful text, Mars 3-D (Bell) is just a gimmick, and Landscapes of Mars (Gregory L Vogt) is just thrown together with near asinine text .... and hand-trimmed photos?: who would have believed in 2008 a mainstream publisher would still be producing graphics non-digitally?, and Destination Mars (Rod Pyle) which is fine as a chatty account of the history of Mars exploration, but lacks any serious insight into what we know about this planet.
The only real exception and worthy contender is Ken Croswell's Magnificent Mars - still a milestone of very knowledgeable, crafted writing with great presentation.
In terms of comprehensible delivery and accessibility, sheer knowledge, insight, and quality of production (along mit German printing - the binding however could have been sturdier with stitched signatures), it is hard to believe this book can be bettered.
If you are 'into Mars', this is a purchase you will not regret.