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Book summary and reviews of Chasing the Sun by Richard Cohen

Chasing the Sun by Richard Cohen

Chasing the Sun

The Epic Story of the Star That Gives Us Life

by Richard Cohen

  • Published:
  • Nov 2010
    608 pages
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Book Summary

In the grand tradition of the scholar-adventurer, acclaimed author Richard Cohen takes us around the world to illuminate our relationship with the star that gives us life. Whether floating in a skiff on the Ganges as the Sun descends behind the funeral pyres of Varanasi, interviewing psychologists in the Norwegian Arctic about the effects of darkness, or watching tomato seedlings in southern Spain being hair-brushed (the better to catch the Sun’s rays), Cohen tirelessly pursues his quarry.

Drawing on more than seven years of research, he reports from locations in eighteen different countries, including the Novolazarevskaya science station in Antarctica (the coldest place on Earth); the Arizona desert (the sunniest); the Pope’s observatory-cum-fortress outside Rome (possible the least accessible); and the crest of Mount Fuji, where - entirely alone - he welcomes the sunrise on the longest day of the year.


Packed with interesting figures (the Sun is responsible for 44 percent of the world’s tidal energy, and when aligned with the Moon, as at high tide, makes us all minutely taller); extraordinary myths (in India, just a few years ago, pregnant women were still being kept indoors during an eclipse, for fear their babies would be born blind or with cleft palates); and surprising anecdotes (during the Vietnam War, a large number of mines dropped into Haiphong harbor blew up simultaneously in response to a large solar flare), this splendidly illustrated volume is erudite, informative, and supremely entertaining. It not only explains the star that so inspires us, but shows how complex our relations with it have been—and continue to be.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Chasing the Sun is both a grand history of civilization and an irresistible account of an around-the-world odyssey in search of an elusive moving target...This is an amazing tour de force." - Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind

"Chasing the Sun is quite an extraordinary book, which I absolutely loved...I shall bask in its shimmering digressions, crazy cross-references, and dizzy overviews for many moons." - Richard Holmes, author of The Age of Wonder

"Starred Review. A remarkably comprehensive and engrossing synthesis of the sun’s influence on science, art, religion, literature, mythology and politics." - Kirkus

This information about Chasing the Sun was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Richard Cohen

Richard Cohen is the former publishing director of Hutchinson and Hodder & Stoughton and the founder of Richard Cohen Books. The acclaimed author of By the Sword: A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers, and Olympic Champions, he has written for The New York Times and most leading London newspapers, and has appeared on BBC radio and television. He lives in New York City.

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