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A Passion for Mars: Intrepid Explorers of the Red Planet Hardcover – Oct 1 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Abrams (Oct. 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810972743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810972742
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 998 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,028,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Andrew Chaikin writes about space and space exploration. His popular A Man on the Moon: The Triumphant Story of the Apollo Space Program (1994) is one of the most important histories of the Space Age. He lives in Arlington, Vermont.


James Cameron is an Academy–Award winning director, producer, and writer.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 10 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you only read one Mars book, read this! June 26 2009
By David Christhilf - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow! This is a great Book! It gives historical background for how we came to know what we currently know about Mars, and something about the people involved in advancing our knowledge. It is well written. It has great photos. It goes from Galileo up to 2008, to include rovers Spirit and Opportunity. It coves the Mars Underground, Robert Zubrin, and their advocacy for going to Mars. How about Wernher von Braun? And Carl Sagan? They are in there, as well as writers Edgar Rice Burroughs and Ray Bradbury. The forward by movie director James Cameron is right on target. The only thing missing is an appendix for 2nd Edition that would include Phoenix scooping water ice, and the finding of seasonal methane releases. It does a wonderful job of collecting the pieces and putting them into perspective. If you only read one book about Mars, this should be it.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Andy Chaikin's Passion is Contagious Sept. 22 2008
By Tahir Rahman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Andy Chaikin has a done it again. His passion for space exploration is heart-felt and evokes inspiration through a lens of history, science and curiosity. Chaikin manages to blend the best of human vision (such as Ray Bradbury's or Arthur C. Clarke's science fiction) with human achievement (from Mariner to the rover projects).

Discover how Wernher von Braun, Tom Paine, Carl Sagan, and a whole host of lesser-known, yet equally significant people imagined, planned, and implemented missions to explore a crimson, unique world.

This book captures the intense drama of the quest for Mars and the people that envision the exploration of a beautiful red planet (with glorious photographs to prove it). Chaikin has blazed a trail for the future of space exploration. An absolute delight.

Tahir Rahman, author of We Came in Peace for all Mankind: the untold story of the Apollo 11 silicon disc
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chaikin Brings Mars To Us Oct. 10 2008
By Jim McDade - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Andrew Chaikin is already famous for his splendidly entertaining history of the United States Apollo program. Oscar-winning Tom Hanks used Chaikin's A MAN ON THE MOON as the foundation material for the 1998 Emmy winning Home Box Office documentary series, From the Earth to the Moon. Chaikin now takes us beyond the moon for a delightful journey to the Red Planet with his latest work, A PASSION FOR MARS.

Chaikin knows Mars. Chaikin served as a young intern at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory during the Mars Viking Lander program and has since become one of the world's finest space exploration writers. Chaikin is one of those very rare writers who is able to inspire millions of readers by taking a non-fiction story and making it read like a best-selling novel. That unusual talent is probably the reason why Chaikin has inspired a master artist and producer like Tom Hanks.

Why Mars?

Mars has seduced human beings for thousand of years. Pre-telescopic observations of blood-red Mars in the night sky unnerved the ancients and inspired many myths linking Mars to warfare and other unpleasant events. Astrologers and soothsayers carefully monitored the motions of Mars and sought to determine the link between Mars and the fate of human beings. Mysterious Mars still defies our effort to fully unlock all of the secrets of the fourth planet from the sun in spite of the fact that we have landed robotic rovers there and even mapped the entire Red Planet from orbit.

In a single volume of 279 pages, Andrew Chaikin has done more to incite contemporary human interest in Mars than the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has done in fifty-plus years of trying to convince the public that Mars could become our next home.

Chaikin takes readers across that vast, challenging void that lies between Earth and Mars, only to discover that the Red Planet reveals as much about human nature and behavior as it does about the secrets of the universe. The quest for Mars is the story of many individual players who are driven by a variety of motivations and expectations. A PASSION FOR MARS is packed with tantalizing and little known, choice details about the lives of many of the key participants in the continuing story of human beings and the push to understand and reach Mars.

The Never-Ending Mystery of Mars

The scientific innovations of the modern era did little damage to human enthusiasm for Mars. The invention of the telescope inspired a new mythology surrounding the Red Planet called Mars. Earthbound astronomers were never able to see the details of the Martian surface in high resolution. It was obvious that Mars had white polar caps. Astronomers assumed that the poles were covered with ice and snow. The Martian day was almost identical in length to an earth day. Fuzzy discolorations on the surface appeared to wax and wane over times. Some astronomers, as late as the 1950s and 1960s assumed that the changes in surface features were due to some sort of vegetation that blossomed and receded with the Martian seasonal cycles. Mars was ALIVE, in the minds of many.

The excitement over Mars suffered a serious setback when the United States space probe called Mariner 4 sent the first clear images of the Martian surface back to Earth. Mars died a sudden death when those pictures revealed a Moon-like, cratered, dry, world that showed no indications of vegetation, canals, or the ruins of ancient civilizations. The disappointment was devastating for many of those who had dreamed of a habitable Mars. eventually, Mars would undergo an unlikely resurrection when later Mars probes revealed new mysteries on the Red Planet.

Chaikin brings the reader up to speed on Mars as he essentially opens the door to Mars Mission Control and introduces us to the key players in the story of Martian exploration.

The thoughtfully chosen illustrations in Chaikin's book are essential to the larger story of people and Mars. When you purchase your own copy of A PASSION FOR MARS, remove the dust jacket immediately and allow your eyes to dwell on the beautiful images of Mars that are printed on the front and back covers. The illustrations found inside the book offer rarely seen glimpses of space-age players such as Carl Sagan, Wernher von Braun, Chaikin himself, and the more recent leaders of robotic Martian probes. Chaikin also shares some of the fine art created by twentieth-century illustrators in A PASSION FOR MARS.

In summary, Andrew Chaikin takes the reader on a journey through space and time as the human focus on Mars matured from mythology and wild speculation to the hard realities of the modern scientific age. A PASSION FOR MARS will undoubtedly inspire thousands to step out at night and look for the Red Planet for the first time in their individual lives. Telescopes may become a best seller this Christmas!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passion + Knowledge + Breadth = Winner June 4 2012
By Richard Pini - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Andrew Chaikin is, in my opinion, one of that rare breed of science writer who can - effortlessly, it seems - serve up a satisfying depth of subject matter in a conversational style. This doesn't mean the writing is superficial; far from it. Chaikin knows his stuff. What drew me to this book was the diverse menu of topics covered, from the scientific to the aesthetic - a related, yet eclectic mix. I was especially pleased to find a chapter on artwork relating to the red planet, a different look at how Mars has captured human imagination from the beginning.
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GOOD BUT NOT COMPREHENSIVE Aug. 25 2009
By Mars Man - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Chaikin documents only a portion of the history of human Mars exploration. However, he has left huge gaps in the coverage, and one could argue, the most influential people, beginning with Wernher von Braun, the father of it all. Seems he concentrated on the Boulder and California activities to the exclusion of the real work being done at Houston and Huntsville.

But it is a fun read, especially for those of us in this business.