Maria's Reviews > Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

Death by Black Hole by Neil deGrasse Tyson
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's review
Oct 01, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction

I have one last section to go (Religion and Science), but my main points won't be affected by it.

Death By Black Hole provides, especially in the first couple of sections, a really good outline of various problems that astrophysicists are confronted with, and it definitely made me think of the scientific process in a new way. So that was pretty cool. But on the whole, my reaction was rather meh - kind of disappointing when the book really isn't bad.

My main complaint about the book isn't actually the book's fault. It's just way below my level, and I found myself frequently bored. I think the best audience for the book is someone who's never had an astronomy class, and is maybe familiar with basic physics and chemistry. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I read it in high school. I did learn a handful of new things, and sometimes Tyson's explanations helped some points I was fuzzy on click into place, but on the whole, I would have preferred the book to be much more detailed.

My second problem is that, as Tyson says in the preface, the book is composed of various essays that he wrote for a magazine over the years, and that they were only slightly edited for continuity when he was preparing the book. Big mistake. While this divided the book into bite-sized, easy to process pieces, it also made it a helluva lot repetitive. Several phenomena were explained two, or even three times throughout the book. It should really have been edited a lot more aggressively.

But on the whole, I think this is a really good pick for a layperson who doesn't know much about astronomy and isn't interested in involved explanations of the physical and chemical side of things. Neil deGrasse Tyson is one eloquent guy, and writes with an infectious passion for his subject.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 1, 2007 – Shelved
October 1, 2007 – Finished Reading
October 15, 2007 – Shelved as: nonfiction

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Julio (new) - added it

Julio Genao he's also a lithe and enthusiastic dancer.

Sarah "I think this is a really good pick for a layperson who doesn't know much about astronomy and isn't interested in involved explanations of the physical and chemical side of things."


I respect your review.

Rebecca I found the repetition useful because.. this was not below my level!
I do wish they would grade pop science books like they grade language books, so you could look at the back and see if it was going to be to easy for you. And I could start at the beginning and gradually read things more complicated.

Gergely Szabo This review details my feelings about this book. If you have every had an introductory astronomy class, or just follow "space news" this book won't give you much new information. It also repeats itself word-to-word multiple times, kind of annoying, needs better editing.

Emily Yep, agree entirely about the repetitiveness. I understand that the essays were not originally written to be read all together at once, but yes... entire sentences or paragraphs were repeated verbatim multiple times, not just concepts... and that stood out as poor editing.

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