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The Moon: A History for the Future

The moon: A history for the futureThe Moon: A History for the Future breaks broadly into three parts: the cultural history of the moon and the various myths around its creation throughout human history; historical studies of the moon from the earliest scientific studies through Galileo and even Verne up to Apollo; and finally the more recent scientific studies and engineering approaches aimed at taking humanity back to the lunar surface and beyond.

As readers of Morton's other books on Mars and environmental issues will know, he is a clear and compelling author who has the ability to weave a narrative through what might otherwise seem completely unrelated topics.

However, despite his skills there are places throughout where the book’s different topics are unhappy bedfellows. The history can at times be not quite complete enough and in a similar way the science can be touched on a little too briefly for anyone wanting to dig a little deeper.

If this book is approached as a useful primer on the moon, as perhaps the author intended, it will please the reader more. Sources and further reading are provided that allow the interested reader to jump off to whichever area most interests them.

Morton starts with ancient myths of the formation of the moon and progresses through its place in Victorian fiction, eventually bringing us through the Apollo age and to the present.

It's here, in this reviewer’s opinion, that Fellows not working in the field of planetary sciences will find the most material of interest. Coverage of Goldblatt et al's 2010 work on the Hadean and Chaotian eras was particularly interesting, and there are a number of similar instances where the science is well placed in a cultural and historical context.

The section covering the stories of Earth’s billionaire elite competing for different visions of space exploration is also well written, but suffers a little from not bringing along new information for the reader who has kept relatively abreast of the periodic news coverage on the topic.

In summary, a good book for anyone looking for a broad and quick primer on our nearest celestial neighbour but who doesn’t want too much detail, or for anyone looking for a subjective list of highlights of recent lunar studies and the current drive to return humans to the lunar surface.

THE MOON: A HISTORY FOR THE FUTURE by OLIVER MORTON, 2019. Published by: Economist Books, 352pp (hbk) ISBN: 9781788162548, List Price: £20.00 W: