First Dawn: From the Big Bang to Our Future in Space

MIT. Aug. 2022. 216p. tr. from Italian by Bonnie McClellan-Broussard. ISBN 9780262047210. $32.95. SCI
The scope of this book is ambitious and audacious: physicist Battiston, the former head of the Italian Space Agency, covers the entire cosmos in 33 short chapters. His goal is to both describe the cosmos and recount the 2,000-year intellectual journey that arrived at humankind’s current scientific understanding of the discipline of cosmology. Battiston’s book crosses into multiple disciplines (physics; astrophysics; biology; history). While the text is easy to read, the book would have been greatly improved by the addition of illustrations and a glossary, which would have helped readers new to cosmology to understand its basics and more advanced concepts. There are occasional hitches in the English translation, but this is nothing the interested reader cannot overcome.
VERDICT Battiston’s book presents a useful synthesis across multiple scientific disciplines to arrive at a definition and general outline of cosmology, which is both timely and of great interest. However, the lack of illustrations and a glossary make it an optional purchase for public and academic libraries.
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