For the Love of MarsHistory, Non-fiction, Science
Mars and its secrets have fascinated and mystified humans since ancient times. Due to its vivid color and visibility, its geologic kinship with Earth, and its potential as our best hope for settlemen, Mars embodies everything that inspires us about space and exploration. For the Love of Mars journeys through the red planet's place in the human imagination, beginning with ancient astrologers and skywatchers and ending in our present moment of exploration and virtual engagement.
This book isn’t really about the science of Mars — though that comes into it — but is more of a cultural history: an attempt to understand what Mars has meant to people, the framework in which people have understood it in different ages, and how that has shaped how we understand Mars now and the kind of assumptions we hold about it.
I found it a surprisingly slow read for the length, comparatively speaking; it was perhaps a bit drier than I expected for a book about Mars (which just goes to show how we think about Mars, I suppose), and spent rather a long time recounting the stories that people told about Mars, e.g. a detailed explanation of Dante’s Paradiso.
I did expect a cultural history from the blurb (though it seems other people were misled), but I suppose I’d expected something focusing more on the modern part of it. I did really enjoy the chapter that discusses the Mars rovers and people’s intense, surprisingly emotional reactions to them.