Book Review: Welcome to the Universe – An Astrophysical Tour by Neil deGrasse Tyson


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everything you could want to know about astrophysics – and way, way more…(no, really)

It is difficult to go wrong with a book on this subject written by these three authors, all at the top of their respective trees. Tyson et al do a good job of applying Feynman rules to teaching a complex subject; for half the book, at least, they keep it simple and start at the premise that the reader is a complete novice in physics. By the end, they have reached material that goes beyond GCSE level and pretty much covers most things to do with astrophysics and subatomic theory at the A level stage. They get you close to not even noticing when you reach such heights.

There comes a point though where the sheer amount of maths and complexity of thought is overwhelming. I struggled at times – and I teach this stuff to A level students! You certainly have to give your full concentration or you will be lost.

In part I found this was because I listened to the book through Audible rather than read a hard copy. I don’t recommend this. Firstly, because the aforementioned maths and complex ideas are hard to visualise when just listening to the book (there is a pdf of illustrations but I’m not sure it helps). Mostly though I don’t recommend it because the narrator – Michael Butler Murray – is horribly condescending, sneering his way through many a joke and generally making you feel like you’re the class idiot. I didn’t enjoy his style at all.

For these two reasons, I can’t grant a full five stars. Nevertheless, with an actual hard copy, I think this book is an excellent and comprehensive introduction to astrophysics which would benefit any would-be physicist or A level student. The book is entertaining and the authors clear and precise. If maths is anathema to you, however, and working hard to concentrate is not your thing: I would avoid.

Social Entrepreneur, educationalist, bestselling author and journalist, D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “The Old Man on the Beach“. His first book, ‘Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page. Listen to his life story in interview with the BBC here.

His latest book is ‘Try not to Laugh’ and is a guide to memorising, revising and passing exams for students.

Both ‘The Old Man on the Beach’ and ‘Sonali’ are available on Amazon for kindle and paperback. Published by Shopno Sriti Media. The novel,’The Pukur’, was published by Histria Books in 2022.

D K Powell is available to speak at events (see his TEDx talk here) and can be contacted at Alternatively, he is available for one-to-one mentoring and runs a course on the psychology of writing.

Ken writes for a number of publications around the world. Past reviewer for Paste magazine, The Doughnut, E2D and United Airways,  and currently reviews for Lancashire Life magazine and Northern Arts Review. His reviews have been read more than 4.5 million times.


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