Nonfiction: American Eclipse by David Baron

American Eclipse book cover

With the anticipated solar eclipse in August, now might be the perfect time to read what happened around a similar event in 1878. David Baron’s fascinating new history, American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World, delves into the facts to unearth an entertaining narrative with lots of tension and excitement.

Baron directs our attention to three notable observers of that phenomenon: Vassar astronomer Maria Mitchell, striving to prove women’s place in the sciences, James Craig Watson, a somewhat untrustworthy planet hunter, and aspiring inventor Thomas Edison. Their stories weave against the backdrop of the Wild West to illuminate the drama that led to America’s becoming a mover and shaker in the global scientific community and even to the creation of the first national weather service. If only our textbooks were this much fun…