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Publisher's Summary

Neil deGrasse Tyson has a talent for explaining the mysteries of outer space with stunning clarity and almost childlike enthusiasm. This collection of his essays from Natural History magazine explores a myriad of cosmic topics, from astral life at the frontiers of astrobiology to the movie industry's feeble efforts to get its images of night skies right.

Tyson introduces us to the physics of black holes by explaining what would happen to our bodies if we fell into one; he also examines the needless friction between science and religion, and notes Earth's status as "an insignificantly small speck in the cosmos".

Renowned for his ability to blend content, accessibility, and humor, Tyson is a natural teacher who simplifies some of the most complex concepts in astrophysics while sharing his infectious excitement for our universe.

©2007 Neil deGrasse Tyson (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Tyson takes readers on an exciting journey from Earth's hot the universe's farthest reaches....witty and entertaining." (Publishers Weekly) "Smoothly entertaining, full of fascinating tidbits, and frequently humorous, these essays show Tyson as one of today's best popularizers of science." (Kirkus Reviews) "[Tyson] demonstrates a good feel for explaining science in an intelligible way to interested lay readers; his rather rakish sense of humor should aid in making the book enjoyable." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Lind
  • Duncan, British Columbia, Canada
  • 05-25-07

Well written and well read

Neil deGrasse Tyson presents this complex subject in a clear and gripping way. The reader,Dion Graham, has just the right pace and inflection to keep your attention. Normally, this subject requires diagrams to clarify what is being said but this presentation is clear without them.

An absorbing book that I look forward to hearing again.

28 of 29 people found this review helpful

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Great for an introduction to space and astronomy

This is a great read for those looking to get an introduction to Space and Astronomy. The presentation bounces around lots of fascinating space facts and theories that keep you captivated. Even if you are not new to space, astronomy and the solar system, this is a great read. I found myself enjoying the many things I didn't know before and discovering space a new.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Jason
  • Jacksonvilee, FL, USA
  • 10-07-08

Tyson dishes it up and up...good show!

Tyson is an authoratative television personality who also has a great grasp of physics and the universe. This book had such a catchy title, how could I have even passed it up?

While being much more approachable in terms of use of analogy to explain very complex scientific concepts, it is also a sounding board for Tyson to rant on a few topics that drive him crazy about popular culture's views of science.

That said, it was a very fun book and well worth the money. Tyson is fun to listen to and his thoughts travel smoothly from point to point. He introduced me to some new information that I, even as an avid reader of all things science, had not known.

The only thing that could have made this book even stronger, perhaps, would be expansion on some of the scientific thoughts for those of us more versed in science. But Tyson's strength is reaching the common man, and so I wasn't surprised that occasionally very in-depth accounting of scientific preceps didn't meet my voracious appetite's needs.

I'll definitely be re-listening to this every now and again, though. It's wonderful for sitting outside and staring at the amazing sky. Bravo :)

25 of 26 people found this review helpful

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Hard to put down

Of the scientific book I listened to lately, this one was probably one of the best. Not just did it provide a comprehensible excursion through astrophysics, it also provided insights into other areas of the physical world and was intellectually quite the point where I had to write an E-mail to the author to ask a question about something I did not understand in the book...and the E-mail was promptly answered by a member of his lab...well worth the read!

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • San Jose, CA, United States
  • 01-21-08

A valuable perspective

The author communicates beautifully, to the laymen and scientifically-minded alike, a cosmologists perspective on our place in the universe, as well as the places where others might inhabit.
Due to the way this book was compiled, of the content is a bit redundant, but that helps it sink in better, I guess.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Malcolm
  • Hagensborg, British Columbia, Canada
  • 12-04-07

A good listen

Very enjoyable, offers brief explanations the sciences behind the objects which we use in everyday life as well as understandable clarifications of the findings in todays scientific frontiers. The author has a gift for making humorous and enlightening analogies and the narrator has an engaging voice. This is an audible offering I shall listen to many times.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

easy to understand

Easy to understand for an astrophysics book! Neil does a great job of writing for the average person (I have a bachelor's in Chemistry, but I knew very little astrophysics). I never felt talked down to. It was a lot of fun to read! I especially enjoyed his description of a death by black hole as spaghettification. If you want to learn more about astrophysics, this is a great way to start!

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Well worth the time

I read a lot of popular science and I really appreciate a well read, well written, presentation of the information. The author, a good choice for reading his own book, gives flavor and enthusiasm to his reading. He knows where he wants the emphasis and conveys his own excitement of the subject with his voice.
This is a basic introduction to the subject of astrophysics, and thus presents no mind-boggling discoveries to those who read or watch this subject closely. He does, however, answer many questions, sometime with speculation, which he freely admits, which I have been asking most of my life.
I listened to this book while I worked around the house, and my reluctance to stop listening gave me the opportunity to get lots of work done in the yard.
I highly recommend the book.

40 of 43 people found this review helpful

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A Boy And His Stick

This is a group of Essays written at different times. This leads to him repeating himself several times. If you did not understand a concept the first time, chances are you will hear it again. I think I heard that Drake came up with the Goldilocks scenario about five times. I found it a bit annoying that he would rant and rave about movie directors, TV producers and even Jodi Foster, saying they should have gotten every nuance correct, when his own book had so many repeats. Sometimes he would say "as mentioned earlier" but, most of the time it was presented as new material.

Thou Doest Protest To Much.

His ranting and raving about shows and movies went on for hours and is done at least twice in the book. Mention it and let's move on.

Since it is different essays, you may enjoy some parts better then others. For instance, every time I hear Boson or Quirks, my brain freezes, but when talking about Galaxies, Quasars, Suns, the expanding Universe etc.., I am all ears. Some parts read like math word problems and some parts are Oh Wow!. I learned a few things and that is the most important thing to me. I came away knowing stuff I did not know before, so cool.

I thought the narrator was great.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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A little tough to follow, but pretty interesting

Would you listen to Death by Black Hole again? Why?

Probably not. The "book" is actually a series of articles that are put together like a chapter book. As such there is a decent degree of redundancy. The plus side is that with repetition comes increased comprehension (as the subject matter can be a little heady for us non-science types)...the downside is that the book really could have been condensed by an order of a few hours with all the repeate material

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

the narrator is generally personable and you can easily visualize Neil deGrasse Tyson in his style. To each their own on this but I think the most compelling aspect of the narrative for me is getting a greater appreciation for the sheer magnitude of the universe versus the sheer insignficance of our place in it.

Which scene was your favorite?

For someone with nothing more than a beginners understanding of astrophysics, I found all of it pretty interesting. Probably, my favorite were the portions that focus on the potential for life on other planets.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

"bring your pillow" kidding. my guess is books on astrophysics don't translate well to the big screen. Probably better suited for PBS or the Discovery Channel

Any additional comments?

A little repetitious but fascinating stuff to the layman.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Peter
  • 07-05-07

Sleepless Nights Ahead!

Slip on the head phones, close your eyes and prepare for a truly captivating journey back to the beginning of time, a sling shot ride forward to the leading edge of space, and all the bits in between as to why it's all there and where it's all heading, superbly explained with a kingsize pinch of playful humour added throughout.

Awesome, book that budget Space Shuttle window seat, the sky at night will never look the same!

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Mick
  • 10-31-07


An excellent audiobook! Very well explained and (mostly) easy to follow theories and facts about the known and unknown universe. Brilliant for a long, long car journey. A fascinating exploration peppered with humour.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. A. J. Price
  • 05-21-08

Enthralling collection of Essays

Very well compiled and very well narrated. A fascinating collection of Astronomical essays read and written with love and enthusiasm. A great listen. Packed full of interesting topics.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 10-16-09


This is a fantastic audiobook. The writing is witty and narrated in a way which maintains interest throughout. Very worthwhile and massively interesting. My friend who previously showed no interest in the subject became obsessed with it after listening to this. If you can't make your mind up, choose this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nunchucks Ní Mhaoilfhinn
  • 01-19-18


love that a quark was named from a line in Finnegan's wake! Really enjoyed this book; great narrator!!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-18-18

Too good.

Story line is great and reading is Awesome. Great work by writer and reader made it more interesting. Doesn't matter you know science or not you will enjoy this book.

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  • Adot
  • 06-01-16

A very Insightful read

This book is packed with amazing cosmic lessons from which I think anyone would learn ALOT about life, history and the universe.

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  • Miss V. Bakova
  • 08-23-14

It's great!

If you could sum up Death by Black Hole in three words, what would they be?

A very interesting book

What did you like best about this story?

The great wonders of nature are explained in a concise and enjoyable way.

Which character – as performed by Dion Graham – was your favourite?

A not too good Neil DeGrasse impersonator.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It is a book you need to seat and really listen. It is divided in several chapters. One a day could be a good idea so you can really digest all the information.

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  • Stephanie Jane
  • 12-18-13

I still don't get particle physics but

have crept a fraction closer to understanding thanks to this audio book! Fortunately the really heavy (for me) theory is intertwined with lots of more basic physics, plus chemistry, history, philosophy and even religion so there's a great mix of astrophysics based information in this book.
Comprised of a series of essays which overlap, Death In A Black Hole covers some areas several times and I liked that, having listened for a few hours, I was finding myself 'accurately predicting' what the next few words might be as we had already covered part of the information some hours previously. I guess I've learned something!
After having listened to the book, I read through some of the reviews here and was surprised that the narrator has come in for such criticism. I enjoyed his enthusiastic approach and didn't find his speech too fast at all. Much of the humour in the text is pleasantly dry and, for an American book, refreshingly sarcastic.
I would buy more work by both the author and the narrator, just as soon as I've managed to memorise all this book. More listenings needed I think!

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  • Andy T
  • 12-08-13

Accessible astrophysics

I parted ways with science after A levels but wanted to find out a bit more about how things had changed in our understanding of the universe. Neil deGrasse Tyson delivers that in spades, with a series of individual vignettes that inform, amuse and entice. Sure, I'm not an expert in the Higgs-Boson or what the prospects are for finding intelligent life in the universe as a result of listening to this, but I did enjoy it and took away some real nuggets. I agree with others about the reading. I live in N America but am signed up to the UK version of Audible because I don't enjoy american accents, and this one is a difficult one to like. However, it didn't stop me listening to this and learning along the way.

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  • jamie
  • 10-01-16

Learning while drifting to sleep.

This was informative and quite funny in places. good to listen to before going to sleep.