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A penetrating, mesmerizing biography of a scientific icon, now in paperback "Absolutely fascinating ...Davidson has done a remarkable job."-Sir Arthur C. Clarke "Engaging ...accessible, carefully documented ...sophisticated."-Dr. David Hollinger for The New York Times Book Review "Entertaining ...Davidson treats [the] nuances of Sagan's complex life with understanding and sympathy."-The Christian Science Monitor "Excellent ...Davidson acts as a keen critic to Sagan's works and their vast uncertainties."-Scientific American "A fascinating book about an extraordinary man."-Johnny Carson "Davidson, an award-winning science writer, has written an absorbing portrait of this Pied Piper of planetary science. Davidson thoroughly explores Sagan's science, wrestles with his politics, and plumbs his personal passions with a telling instinct for the revealing underside of a life lived so publicly."-Los Angeles Times Carl Sagan was one of the most celebrated scientists of this century-the handsome and alluring visionary who inspired a generation to look to the heavens and beyond. His life was both an intellectual feast and an emotional rollercoaster. Based on interviews with Sagan's family and friends, including his widow, Ann Druyan; his first wife, acclaimed scientist Lynn Margulis; and his three sons, as well as exclusive access to many personal papers, this highly acclaimed life story offers remarkable insight into one of the most influential, provocative, and beloved figures of our time-a complex, contradictory prophet of the Space Age.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780471395362
ISBN-10: 0471395366
Format: Paperback
(258mm x 154mm x 36mm)
Pages: 576
Imprint: John Wiley & Sons Inc
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc
Publish Date: 27-Sep-2000
Country of Publication: United States

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Another bio of the flamboyant astronomer and creator of Cosmos (see William Poundstone, p. 1391), from a veteran science writer (coauthor with George Smoot of Wrinkles in Time, 1993). Davidson credits Sagan's influential Intelligent Life in the Universe, a collaboration with Russian astronomer I.S. Shklovskii, with awakening his own interest in science. He recognizes Sagan as a great popularizer, one of the preeminent translators of scientific ideas into the vernacular of his day. At the same time, he clearly distrusts the myth that Sagan often seemed to personify, that of the scientist as a sort of modern high priest, omniscient and above the fray. In this spirit, the biography often seems to be recounting Sagan's career with an eye to undercutting that myth, if not necessarily the man himself. Thus the digs at Big Science, where political acumen counts for as much as research ability; the quotation of derogatory remarks from Sagan's former friends (e.g., Harold Blum, who called his prose style "phony"); and hints that there were deep-seated irrational elements behind the cool surface of Sagan's science. Sagan was clearly a man who made enemies as easily as friends, and Davidson has sought out both camps. The resulting portrait is not so much a debunking of Sagan, however, as a highlighting of certain qualities that might have increased his popular appeal. The "nuclear winter" episode, in which Sagan and several colleagues argued that even a "limited" nuclear war might lead to the extermination of human life, showed Sagan as an eminent scientific expert, paradoxically arguing that the issues involved were too important to leave to the experts. Likewise, in many ways Sagan's constant advocacy of the search for life beyond Earth - the central science-fictional dream - was a key to the space program's becoming hard reality. In the end, Davidson argues, Sagan's influence in such matters may count for more than any of his books. A smoothly written, sometimes critical look at a leading scientific figure of our time. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Keay Davidson

KEAY DAVIDSON is an award-winning science reporter for the San Francisco Examiner and has written feature articles for National Geographic and New Scientist. He coauthored the critically acclaimed book Wrinkles in Time with George Smoot. He lives in San Francisco, California.

Books By Author Keay Davidson

Carl Sagan by Keay Davidson

Carl Sagan

Hardback, August 2000
$73.95
Wrinkles in Time by Keay Davidson

Wrinkles in Time

Paperback / softback,

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