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"Destination Mars" by Rod Pyle

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#1 Rick Woods

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 04:59 PM

The full title is "Destination Mars: New Explorations of the Red Planet" (Prometheus Books, 2012; 348pp).

I'm basically a user; I generally prefer Mars books about what we learned more than books about how we got there and the instruments we used. At first glance, this seemed to be the latter. But I broke down and bought a copy, and I'm about halfway through it now - far enough to give a quick once-over.

This is a good book. The writer (Pyle) is very engaging. There is a short chapter about each probe that went to Mars (and functioned), which gives a brief account of the important instrumentation, and the highlights of the discoveries they made, and what they meant in the continuing investigation of Mars. Each of those chapters is followed by a short chapter about one of the main people involved with the probe, with material mostly from interviews with them. There are only a few pages of pre-spacecraft history (e.g Lowell, etc.)

The coverage is high-level, and at no time are you bogged down with excessive scientific jargon. Short and sweet, and it provides a really enjoyable fast view of the whole program from Mariner IV to the present. You don't need to know a lot about Mars to enjoy this book.

The book is softbound, with high-quality heavy paper and clear, sharp print and color images. All in all, a very fun, informative, and easy-to-read treatment of a fascinating subject. And to think I almost didn't buy it.

I got it new at Barnes & Noble for something like $17. A reasonable price for a good book.

#2 Crow Haven

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 05:54 PM

I bought this book last year but still haven't gotten around to reading it (I've always got a backlog of books to read) -- so now I'll dig it out and give it a go as it sounds like a worthwhile read. Thanks for your review of this, Rick! :grin:

#3 CounterWeight



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Posted 19 March 2013 - 09:43 PM

I was thumbing through this book at my local Powells bookstore the other day, at first I wondered if a subtle marketing gimmick but was surprised to see it's much better than that. Put it back anyway. I am self sequestering my book budget until I get my Tak reducer... at least I think I am...

#4 PhilCo126



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Posted 13 April 2013 - 04:38 AM

Some of my Mars-literature:

#5 Rick Woods

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 01:37 PM

That's quite a collection, Phil!

This may be of passing interest to some:
I bought a used copy of "Packing for Mars", 1st edition, by Mary Roach, for (I think) $8. It's a nicely bound hardback, good paper quality, etc. Then I saw the second edition at Barnes & Noble: newspaper-quality paper, softcover with the covers barely heavier than the text. It's going for something like $16 new.
No other differences that I know of between the editions. I like to support authors, but in this case the el cheapo 2nd ed is not worth the money IMO. Look for a first edition.

I haven't read it yet, but it looks like it'll be a lot of fun; the author seems to be a bit of a goofball (meant in a complimentary sense), and has quite a sense of humor.

Sorry, Mary, but you should exert a little QC over your book.

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