Man Who Sold the Milky Way: A Biography of Bart Bok

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Distinguished researcher, teacher, and lecturer, Bok began his professional career at the University of Leiden. In 1929 he became Wilson Fellow in astronomy at Harvard University and by 1946 was associate director of the Harvard Observatory. He moved on to the Australian National University in 1957, and in 1966 became Head of the Department of Astronomy and Director of Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona. Bok was keen on educating the public, whether informing people about the Milky Way or debunking ...
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1995 Trade paperback New. No dust jacket as issued. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 246 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

Distinguished researcher, teacher, and lecturer, Bok began his professional career at the University of Leiden. In 1929 he became Wilson Fellow in astronomy at Harvard University and by 1946 was associate director of the Harvard Observatory. He moved on to the Australian National University in 1957, and in 1966 became Head of the Department of Astronomy and Director of Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona. Bok was keen on educating the public, whether informing people about the Milky Way or debunking astrology. "Bart Bok always loved to talk about astronomy's big picture," observes Levy, "and in his lifetime of commitment to the Milky Way, he had seen that picture evolve." The Man Who Sold The Milky Way faithfully recounts that commitment. David Levy reviews Bok's career and marriage to Priscilla Fairfield, including a touching chapter on how he dealt with his wife's final illness. In reviewing the achievements that made Bok one of the paramount astronomers of the twentieth century, Levy also describes the harassment by Senator Joseph McCarthy of Bok and his colleagues during the 1950s and the events that forced him to leave Harvard. Drawing on more than fifty interviews with Bok over the two years before his death, Levy has written a biography that was first undertaken over Bok's protests but later gained his full cooperation. It not only shows what made Bok an exceptional scientist but also what it was like to be an astronomer in an era of significant progress in that field.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The career of Dutch-born astronomer Bart J. Bok (1906-1983) spanned the mature era of international astronomy. Bok, who became a U.S. citizen in 1938, was the driving force in creating observational definitions of the Milky Way and other phenomena of galaxies. If there was a less controversial, more roundly admired scientist in this century it could only have been Priscilla Bok (1896-1975) who figures prominently in this authorized biography, as both colleague and spouse of more than 30 years. Together, they created and edited the classic undergraduate text, The Milky Way , through five editions starting in 1941. Years before his death, Bok designated Levy, an amateur astronomer and author of The Sky: A User's Guide , as his official biographer. Levy's comprehensive account, limning a storybook career brilliantly lit with moments of scientific discovery, travel and success in the realms of academia and international politics, will appeal especially to young astronomers and science historians. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Library Journal
In this case ``sold'' means ``widely publicized research on'' the Milky Way. Bok was one of a number of Dutch-born astronomers who have had distinguished research careers in the United States. He and his wife, also an astronomer, coauthored a standard work, The Milky Way , which went through five editions. In addition to his own research, he advanced the cause of astronomy by supporting developments in radio astronomy and by providing forceful leadership for growing research programs in Australia and Arizona. Opinionated and at times controversial, Bok was often outspoken about public issues touching on science. Tucson-based writer and amateur astronomer Levy is candid about Bok's life, work, and disputes; however, his writing is occasionally awkward, and the work lacks any overall analysis of Bok's accomplishments. For academic and larger public library astronomy collections.-- Jack W. Weigel, Univ. of Michigan Lib., Ann Arbor
Booknews
Levy, author of Clyde Tombaugh: Discoverer of Planet Pluto, draws on more than 50 interviews with the great astronomer Bart Bok (1906- 1983) over the two years before his death, in this biography that was first undertaken over Bok's protests, but later gained his full cooperation. It shows what made Bok an exceptional scientist as well as what it was like to be an astronomer in an era of significant progress in the field. It also describes the harassment of Bok and his colleagues by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s and the events that forced Bok to leave Harvard. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816515240
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1995
  • Edition description: REISSUE
  • Pages: 246
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.72 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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