Summary and Info
This book is easily one of the most useful books in regard to nuclear astrophysics. While the chapters have very repetitive structure and wording, this fits very well with the books namesake of a handbook, rather than a work which is meant to be read straight through.
While this book lacks many technical details, it is, to my knowledge, the only qualitative book on nuclear astrophysics, focusing on the connection of ideas in simple language. If you are interested in a technical book on the subject, these are widely available, from Clayton's 1968 Principles of Stellar Evolution and Nucleosynthesis, to Rolf's Cauldrons in the Cosmos: Nuclear Astrophysics (Theoretical Astrophysics Series), Pagel's Nucleosynthesis and Chemical Evolution of Galaxies, Arnett's Supernovae and Nucleosynthesis (Princeton Series in Astrophysics) and Iliadis's Nuclear Physics of Stars.
In this regard, it is a unique book and extremely useful for preparing a talk to a general audience. One requires some background in the field to understand all the material, and so in that sense the book is not the best primer to the field.
I have two complaints, however. Clayton states in the preface, "Some may criticize my omission of reference to the research literature." This I do not mind, considering the book's goal of being non-technical. However, whenever Don Clayton has done the research in question, he is sure to point that out to the reader. But rarely does he name any other scientific researchers in nuclear astrophysics who have greatly contributed as well. In this way, one who reads the book may come away with the incorrect impression that Clayton is the main contributor to this sort of research, when in fact the conclusion that Clayton is a bit self-righteous is probably more accurate. At the very least, it's poor form and becomes annoying.
My second complaint is that when I asked Clayton if he was going to write the second volume, germanium to uranium, and he laughed and said no.
More About the Author
Donald Delbert Clayton (born March 18, 1935) is an American astrophysicist whose most visible achievement was prediction on sound nucleosynthesis grounds that supernovae are intensely radioactive.
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