Many of us know that the Moon pulls on our oceans, driving the tides, but did you know that it smells like gunpowder? Or that it was essential to the development of science and religion? Acclaimed journalist Rebecca Boyle takes readers on a tour to reveal the intimate role that our 4.51-billion-year-old companion has played in our biological and cultural evolution.
Boyle walks the reader through a history of both Earth and humanity, from the formation of our planet and the evolution of life to the development of civilization, religion, philosophy and, eventually, science ... Boyle, whose graceful writing is as lulling as a bedtime story, paints the moon as more than just a driver of physical phenomena ... Boyle finds the moon in places I would never think to look. And she has convinced me that though our connection to it is ever-changing, the moon perseveres as a source of knowledge, wonder and influence — and is anything but dull ... Timely ... Makes the moon feel closer than ever.
Boyle propels us enthusiastically from the Berlin Gold Hat – an astronomical calculator-cum-priestly headpiece from the Bronze Age – to the tale of Enheduanna, the high priestess who used hymns to Moon gods to bind the city-states of 2nd-millennium BC Sumeria into the world’s first empire. And we go from there, via many a fascinating byway, to the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras, whose explanation of moonlight as mere reflected sunlight ought, you would think, to have punctured the Moon’s ritual importance ... Boyle brings her account to a climax with the appearance of Theia, a conjectural, but increasingly well-evidenced, protoplanet, about the size of Mars, whose collision with the early Earth almost vaporised both planets and threw off the material that accreted into the Moon. Our Moon is superb: as much a feat of imagination as it is a work of globe-trotting scholarship. Given the sheer strangeness of the Moon’s creation story, it will surely inspire its readers to dig deeper.
The book's range is broad ... Boyle targets general audiences here, and while that occasionally leads to remedial pronouncements ... Boyle is at her best describing thorny scientific concepts, especially during a vibrant discussion of the surprisingly contemporary debate surrounding the moon's creation ... Boyle's book reveals just how genuinely earth-shattering our moon has been.