Science journalist Rebecca Boyle has an intergenerational connection with the moon. Her grandfather Pfc. John J. Corcoran was involved in the 1943 Battle of Tarawa on the namesake atoll in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. The United States’ narrow victory against Japan came at heavy human cost. One reason: A weak high tide forced American soldiers to wade through the ocean into Japanese gunfire rather than sail their boats to meet their enemies.
Historians blame the moon for the massive casualties — the battle occurred during a time of month when the sun’s and moon’s gravitational tugs partially cancel each other out, contributing to the lower-than-usual high tide.
Boyle, however, recognizes that the moon’s impact on humankind is far more vast and multifaceted. After all, the moon helped shape Earth into the home we know, she writes in her new book, Our Moon. At the outset, Boyle promises to convince readers of the moon’s extensive influences, both biological and spiritual. Over nearly 300 pages, she delivers.
Naturally, the book touches on well-known subjects, including the Apollo missions that brought humans to the lunar surface (SN: 2/18/22). Still, the book is guaranteed to surprise, filled with factoid gold that will enthrall geologists, moon nerds and casual readers alike. For instance, Boyle incorporates new research on how the moon formed 4.5 billion years ago, pointing to geologic evidence that may still be entombed deep within Earth’s mantle (SN: 11/1/23). And contrary to what Apollo photos suggest, the moon’s surface sparkles with technicolor hues, astronauts reported. “The Moon was not gray, but a landscape flecked with color,” Boyle writes. “Analysis of the Moon rocks has since found volcanic glass in every color of the spectrum.”