“A timely tale of science and suspense.”*
A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World
“Baron skillfully builds tension, giving readers a vivid sense of the excitement, hard work, and high stakes in play. With the first total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. in 99 years set to occur in late August 2017, this engrossing story makes an entertaining and informative teaser.”
—éPublishers Weekly (starred review)*
“Baron brilliantly presents these three pioneers, their ambitions, and their struggles. As America again prepares to experience solar totality, Baron transports us to a remarkable moment that brought a nation together to witness the wonders of the heavens.”
—éBooklist (starred review)
“Captivating....As Baron capably and enthusiastically shows, the solar eclipse of 1878 proved to be an important moment in the emergence of American science.”
“Throughout, the book depicts the United States as a young country striving to achieve parity with Europe on the intellectual stage…Baron tells a compelling tale.”
To understand eclipse chasers, it helps to be one. In AMERICAN ECLIPSE, David Baron—umbraphile extraordinaire and an acclaimed science writer—travels back in time to profile three outsized personalities hell-bent on making their names at the dawn of American astronomy. The result is a gripping and entertaining account of the frontiers of science set on the literal frontier, and it comes just in time for the first total solar eclipse to traverse the entire continental U.S. in 99 years.
While we await that momentous event (on August 21; an experience that will awe tens of millions of Americans), David Baron gives us the gripping tale of a solar eclipse 140 years ago that inspired the country like never before. On a July afternoon in 1878, at the start of the Gilded Age and the height of the Wild West, the moon’s shadow descended on the American frontier, darkening skies from Montana Territory to Texas. This eclipse, which had been predicted by astronomers, lured many of the era’s great scientists to the West in an era of train robberies and Indian hostilities.
Among them were a young Thomas Edison, who hoped to leverage the eclipse to burnish his scientific credentials; the vainglorious James Craig Watson, who sought professional bragging rights for new planets and asteroids; and Vassar astronomer Maria Mitchell, who aimed to use the event to show what women could do in science. An untold tale of ambition, failure, and eventual triumph, the book brings to life the intellectual and technological flowering of late-nineteenth-century America, a period that laid the foundation for the country’s eventual rise to scientific greatness.
AMERICAN ECLIPSE is the perfect antidote for a cynical and divided nation; proof of how we can still marvel at a natural spectacle that elevates us beyond our workaday lives, and how Americans can rally around a moment—and will, this August 21—to ponder our collective place in the cosmos.
AUTHOR TOUR: New York (June 2-3); Washington DC (June 4-6); Boston (June 8-10); New Jersey (June 11-12); Atlanta (June 13-14); Philadelphia (June 15); St. Louis (June 16-17); Kansas City (June 20); Boulder (June 29); Denver (July 12 and 24); Colorado Springs (July 13); Portland, OR (July 18); Seattle (July 19)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
David Baron, an award-winning journalist, is a former science correspondent for NPR and former science editor for the public radio program The World. An incurable umbraphile whose passion for chasing eclipses began in 1998, he lives in Boulder, Colorado.
Author website at www.american-eclipse.com.
TITLE: AMERICAN ECLIPSE: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World
AUTHOR: David Baron
PUBLICATION DATE: June 6, 2017
PAGES: 352 PRICE: $27.95 ISBN: 978-1-63149-016-3