American Eclipse deconstructs the eclipse to its earthly ties while lacing mid-America to the moon and back. Following three characters across the plains to the point of totality, each with their distinct reasons for converging on such a historic event to the American people, but each a showcase for the greater trends and movements turning the USA to the power it holds today. A must for anyone persuaded by historical astronomy.— Ian
Longlisted for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Prize for Literary Science Writing
Winner of the AIP Science Communication Award
An Amazon Best Book of the Year (Science)
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch Best Book of the Year
Finalist for the Colorado Book Award (Nonfiction)
Booklist Editors’ Choice (Science & Technology)
This “suspenseful narrative history” (Maureen Corrigan, NPR) brings to life the momentous eclipse that enthralled a nation and thrust American science onto the world stage.
On a scorching July afternoon in 1878, at the dawn of the Gilded Age, the moon’s shadow descended on the American West, darkening skies from Montana Territory to Texas. This rare celestial event—a total solar eclipse—offered a priceless opportunity to solve some of the solar system’s most enduring riddles, and it prompted a clutch of enterprising scientists to brave the wild frontier in a grueling race to the Rocky Mountains. Acclaimed science journalist David Baron, long fascinated by eclipses, re-creates this epic tale of ambition, failure, and glory in a narrative that reveals as much about the historical trajectory of a striving young nation as it does about those scant three minutes when the blue sky blackened and stars appeared in mid-afternoon.