Review of ‘The Moon: A History for the Future’ by Oliver Morton

I’m a big fan of the Moon, so this book very much appealed to me. It’s a science book which also touches upon economics, politics, science fiction and the author’s opinions.

The writing style of this book is quite strange. Sometimes the author explains theories and scientific facts in a straightforward way. Sometimes he goes off on a tangent. Sometimes he seems to wander through a dream world and forgets he’s writing a book that people might actually want to understand. It’s certainly unusual, but it doesn’t always make sense. I enjoyed some chapters more than others. The quality of my reading experience varied so much. The low point was probably when Elon Musk was discussed and despite admiration of his achievements being expressed, described as a ‘prick’ several times (the author has met him). I felt that incidents like this lowered the tone. I also thought there was too much emphasis on Robert Heinlein’s book The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. While we are on the subject of books, someone needs to tell Oliver Morton or his editor that book titles should be in italics and not quotation marks. It was very annoying to see this basic error throughout. Someone else must have compiled the reference list, however, as the titles are correct there.

I found the chapter on the Apollo missions to be the most engaging. It was also brilliant to learn things about the Moon that I didn’t know before, particularly its geology and the theories about its formation. Generally I did like this book. There are some really thought-provoking paragraphs and an interesting use of imagery in the more lyrical moments. There are a few diagrams but no photographs. If you just want facts and lovely pictures of the Moon, then this isn’t the book for you. I suspect that there’s nothing else out there like this book right now. The content is slightly out of date already as it was written in 2018 and mentions events which may take place in 2019, but I would think that it’s still the most up to date commercially-published book about the Moon and the practicalities of future missions.

First published in 2019. This edition published in 2020.


4 thoughts on “Review of ‘The Moon: A History for the Future’ by Oliver Morton”

  1. Great review – interesting about titles being in italics or quotes as I think certain style guides in the US do differ on this. If you do like the moon then I would suggest A Man on The Moon by Andrew Chaikin which is the whole story of the Apollo missions. It is a truly wonderful book and (in my view) will not be bettered for a long time, though its focus is on the voyages of the astronauts rather than the moon itself – but there’s still a lot of moon stuff in it!!!

    1. Thanks! Hmm, maybe I’m just ignorant about conventions in American writing then… Thank you for the recommendation, will add to my list! I am a bit ‘Mooned out’ at the moment but when I get interested again I’ll check this one out.

  2. Great review, thank you for it! I have been on a lookout for a good non-fiction book about the Moon for quite some time now, but was only finding tepid or very negative reviews of some books about the Moon. This book sounds like I could enjoy it because it takes a comprehensive approach and talks about various topics. Still, I do believe that THE book about the Moon is still to be written.

    1. You’re welcome! 🙂 This one is certainly interesting although the writing is hit and miss, I feel. You’re right, the definitive book on the Moon has not been written yet.

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