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Publisher's Summary

In the scorching summer of 1878, with the Gilded Age in its infancy, three tenacious and brilliant scientists raced to Wyoming and Colorado to observe a rare total solar eclipse. One sought to discover a new planet. Another - an adventuresome female astronomer - fought to prove that science was not anathema to femininity. And a young megalomaniacal inventor, with the tabloid press fast on his heels, sought to test his scientific bona fides and light the world through his revelations.

David Baron brings to three-dimensional life these three competitors - James Craig Watson, Maria Mitchell, and Thomas Edison - and thrillingly re-creates the fierce jockeying of 19th-century American astronomy. With spellbinding accounts of train robberies and Indian skirmishes, the mythologized age of the last days of the Wild West comes alive as never before. A magnificent portrayal of America's dawn as a scientific superpower, American Eclipse depicts a young nation that looked to the skies to reveal its towering ambition and expose its latent genius.

©2017 David Baron (P)2017 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Just OK.

The book is more about the lives of contemporary scientists than about eclipses. Liked the little bit about history of women astrologists.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

wonderful tale

while the book stumbles a bit after the headliner event, the while is still a great story. I loved hearing about the state of science before and after the Great Eclipse.

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Eclispse brought to life!

I loved this book! I heard about it on the podcast Science Talk and decided to purchase it. I am a regular Jane who loves science but doesn't learn it easily. I am more of a history person so this was a perfect way to learn about solar eclipses. Baron truly brings the stories of Edison, Mitchell, and Watson to life. I knew little about Mitchell and now have a new historic woman to discover. I'm from Cincinnati and a member of the Cincinnati Observatory so I loved reading about us and Abbe Cleveland in Chapter 13. Once I started it, I couldn't stop. It was engaging and made so many scientific principles simple and enjoyable to understand. Will be looking into more of David Baron's books. So glad I heard him on the podcast.

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Great prep for eclipse viewing

I'm not sure I'd have found this as interesting if I read it a couple years ago, but in the run-up to the Aug 21 2017 American eclipse it was really fun. Gave me a lot of interesting material to share with others traveling to see the eclipse like I was. Author does a good job of contextualizing the event, but ultimately the relative dearth of information about what regular folks thought about the 1878 eclipse means the bulk of the story is about the famous people involved and the general circumstances.

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Nature, Scientific Discovery, Equality, & Eclipse

This a good primer for what to expect out of the 2017 eclipse and the one coming in the 2020's. It is a wonderful historical narrative about the slow development of scientific theories. Especially how the only scientific facts are those that tell us what Nature isn't. In some small part this book gives an insight into how scientific progress comes after a society is able to fund it when its economy has developed excess capital much like that needed for the arts. There is also some exposition on the negative effects of competition and ego in science. It also reminds us of the slow recognition of woman's place in science and society.

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Don't listen to Jonathan Yen!

What would have made American Eclipse better?

A reader who simply read the book, rather than someone who dramatized every word, so much so that I couldn't stand to listen to it. Just tell the tale!!

What did you like best about this story?

Great idea for a book. Hope to read it some time.

What didn’t you like about Jonathan Yen’s performance?

Too dramatic and inflected. Just read the thing!! The inflections were so distracting I couldn't hear the story, and avoided it.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Great book, good idea for a book.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful