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Chasing the Sun: A Cultural and Scientific History of the Star That Gives Us Life
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Chasing the Sun: A Cultural and Scientific History of the Star That Gives Us Life

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  126 ratings  ·  35 reviews
The Sun is so powerful, so much bigger than us, that it is a terrifying subject. Yet though we depend on it, we take it for granted. This book is a cultural and scientific history of our relationship with the star that gives us life.
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published November 1st 2010 by Simon & Schuster (first published May 6th 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 377)
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Cassandra Kay Silva
The opening chapters and the final chapters were pretty good, they were more science packed. The middle chapters included things like "Opera's devoted to the sun" and "Art devoted to the sun" etc. which in general I wouldn't have minded but he went through the artists so quick and with so little emphasis that I felt like I was reading lists in the middle of this book which was a total throw off, especially the "songs devoted to the sun" section. They were also not in my opinion as well written a ...more
An interesting book, and the author definitely should be commended on the variety of different considerations and aspects of human thought about the sun that he covers. A couple of things mar this book, though, and stopped me from giving it 3 stars (I would have given it 2.5 if that were available). First, there were a number of clear astronomical mistakes, even though in the acknowledgments the author said that experts read over the book. For example, at one point he claims that at the equinox ...more
Rachel Rogers
I've been gradually making my way through this book; it's what I read when trying to fall asleep and didn't have any other books to work on. Which makes it sound like it was really boring. Parts of it were fascinating; parts extremely boring, others felt...pretentious. I anticipating something akin to Dava Sobel's Planets but this read far more like a dissertation where the author didn't know where to stop his research. The chapters on the sun and religion were a little dry but Cohen came into h ...more
Fascination rendition of the significance of the Sun to humanity since the ascension of human consciousness to the mythology developed by us throughout historical times. Worth reading it!
Mike Smith
This is a thoroughly researched, densely packed book that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the Sun. Cohen explains how our knowledge and perceptions of the Sun have changed through the last three millennia or so. He describes how we've thought of the Sun in science, religion, art (including visual arts, literature and poetry, and music), and politics, and probably a few perspectives I've missed. It's very well written, although it sometimes gets technical, whether he's writ ...more

This book is long, a comprehensive list of human cultures around the globe and there connection to the sun. I thought it would be more science oriented, but in the end it washer about human cultures and their activities and how those things relate to the sun. It did have some good moments, however, I really had to plow hard to get to some of them. The section on the sun and literature was a particular bore. I did find the historical overview of the science of learning about the sun to be intere
First book I have given up on in a long time. That is not something I'd normally want to do, or to admit to if I did. I'm really sad as the book seemed to have a lot of promise.

What the author has done is start with an interest in the Sun. OK, fair enough.
He then went to a lot of specialists and asked for them to tell him what they knew. Seems reasonable.
Then he wrote a book about what he found out. Should be good.

Sadly the book is really just a regurgitation of what he was told with none of hi
Richard Williams
interesting genre, a bit more involved than mere popularization of science, like one i read a few months back on chlorophyll, revolves around everything you want to know about the sun, from a variety of perspectives.

chapters on science, beginning and end of book were interesting, chapters on literature etc, the middle dragged and put me to sleep, which probably says more about my interests than the interest level of the writing.

chapter on calendars worth anyones time, rest of book worthwhile to
John Chaffinch
Assembles a dazzling array of perspectives on his solar theme with a breadth of response worthy of Sir Thomas Browne.
Stephen Palmer
A good book, but it suffered I thought from a tendancy in modern non-fiction to essentially be collections of knowledge linked by a theme. There was no personality of the author in the book. Not that you necessarily need that, but this is not the first book that, though erudite, seemed to be a posh wikipedia of a work.

I felt this too about "Jerusalem," which, though it had an obvious theme, was to my eyes a chronological collection of bad men doing bad things to one another, with little about th
Eric Mccutcheon
I am giving this book three stars because of the amount of information that it contained. I learned a lot reading it. However, it was a very difficult book to read. Apparently the author felt it necessary to include every single piece of information he gathered during research. He jumped from topic to topic. It was difficult to get into and more difficult to sludge through. I would not recommend this to others. It was clear reading this book that the author was very impressed with himself and ho ...more
A wide-ranging book covering many subjects, some more related to the sun than others. Unsurprisingly, given the variety of the subject matter, I found some chapters fascinating (the ones about science and the history of science, in particular) others somewhat intersting (for example the older history of sun worship) and some of no real interest at all (such as the chapters on the sun as inspiration in art, theatre, opera etc).

Overall definitely worth reading though.
An epic story indeed. This book was too big for bedtime so I left it in the living room and read a chapter or a few pages when I felt like it. The best chapters were brilliant - and I can imagine that all the chapters were good but that for each individual different chapters might be the ones to spark the imagination because it covers so many different areas - science, history, culture, art, religion (to name a few!).
Ryan Mishap
A throwback book of scholarship, like when scholarship wasn't limited to the academies, but any curious wanderer with the means and leisure time could pursue subjects and write about them.
while full of interesting information, Cohen manages to make this read like a boring history book in parts--better when he's writing first person when visiting places. Just too damn long of a book, really.
This encyclopedic work covers any and every scientific and cultural aspect relating to the sun. He includes western, Chinese, Indian, Mayan ideas about the sun. He covers art, music, folk lore. The book is all inclusive. If you are well read you may have come across most of these thoughts before but it is interesting to see them organized in one cohesive volume. I liked the book.
In "Chasing the Sun", Richard Cohen presents to us a masterpiece of the history and impact our little star has had on the influence of mankind throughout history to the present. This is a very good read for one to understand the influence the Sun has had on all the myths, religions, and progression of mankind in influencing the evolution of mankind. An interesting read.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
I got to the part about mythology and said "Hey! There's nothing about Perkunas and the nine suns!" and felt disinclined to continue. (Though in the author's defense, what surviving mythology there is about Perkunas is rather fragmentary and confusing.) Interestingly, there's also a Chinese myth about nine suns.

Start date approximate and probably wrong.
Cohen was aiming for a comprehensive book about all topics related to the sun- the sun in art, music, etc. but he included anything remotely tangential to the sun which made the book seem like just a random listing of sun references. There was no overall narrative thread. The science chapters were most interesting although not very well written.
Margaret Sankey
Yes, someone has written a social history of the sun, including the religious and scientific movements with the sun at their centers--with forays into Incan sacrifices, Islamic observatories, Chinese astrology, "Sun Kings," eclipse panics, solar flares setting off naval mines and buildings oriented to catch light in specific ways.
Susanne Poulette
This is truly a history of the sun and our relationship with it since earliest times. The encyclopedic wealth of information is told in rich, engaging narrative style. This is a valuable choice for readers of science, astronomy, history, culture, religion,- our physical world and humankind's beliefs surrounding it.
Kristi Thielen
An elegantly written tome (it IS lengthy) about all things sun: not just the astronomy of our favorite star, but its role in literature, art, music, culture, etc.

Very good, but do read the preface and understand that it is not strictly a book of science.
Carey Combe
Massive disappointment - load of mish mash comprising personal anecdotes, pseudo science, myths, etc that amounted to a load of rubbish. I kept going just because I couldn't believe what he would put in next. Although the literary section - yawn - was reasonable.
I heard a good interview with the author on Rick Steve's podcast, but the book just turned into this long list of everything that could be connected to the sun. If it was about half as long it could have been okay, as it is it lost me a short way in.
Cohen took 8 years to write this. I took a year and a half to read it. If you want to read an encyclopedia on the sun (and who wouldn't, right?) this is the book for you. I'm pretty sure there is not one single thing about the sun that has been left out.
Interesting idea but at times not well executed. The scientific sections were particularly wanting in both clarity and content. Some things were bordering on being just plain wrong! I think the author tried to accomplish too much in one book...
List of Illustrations and Illustration Credits
Sunrise on Mount Fuji

--Chasing the Sun: A Cultural and Scientific History of the Star That Gives Us Life

Sunset on the Ganges
An all (and awe) encompassing look at how our sun has influenced our lives from ancient times to present and to be. The entity as worship, research and inspiration. The perfect book to be reading during the winter.
Steven Magee
This is the most comprehensive book about the Sun that I have read. I was astounded at the wide range of subjects that are detailed in it. If you want to fully understand the Sun, this book is a good place to start.
Daniel Valdivia
It's a remarkable literature full of facts and fables and science and superstition and anthropology about the sun and our relationship with our particular star. Which I absolutely loved :)
great so far, pleasingly written.
A dazzling tour d'horizon of mankind's enduring fascination with, and reliance upon, the extraordinary star at the centre of our solar system.

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