Review – Caesar’s Last Breath

Posted August 3, 2017 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Caesar's Last Breath by Sam KeanCaesar’s Last Breath, Sam Kean

Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 18th July

Sam Kean is an entertaining pop science writer in general, and though this isn’t as perfectly up my street as The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons, it’s still fascinating and very readable. It starts by reminding us that we’re breathing the same air as everyone who has ever lived — including Caesar, hence the title — and that there’s a high chance we’re breathing in some of the same molecules that bounced around their lungs. Then it goes on to talking about the foundation of Earth’s atmosphere, the power of gases and the road humans took to discovering that, and finishes with a look at how life affects its environment — of course, the changes in the composition of our atmosphere that we cause, but also how we might spot other species on other planets doing the same.

As you can see, that’s a lot of ground to cover, and Kean manages to string everything together into a pretty logical narrative. The longer chapters are leavened by interludes covering events that illustrate some part of what’s under discussion, like using hot gases to cut into a bank vault…

Overall, entertaining and interesting, especially given that Earth sciences and the study of our atmosphere has never been a great interest of mine.

Rating: 3/5

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