The most specialized volume in our roundup is also the most beautiful. The celestial neighbor closest to the size of Earth is the subject of a gorgeous gift book coming in August from National Geographic, Mars: Uncovering the Secrets of the Red Planet. "The Mariner 9 photographic results from Mars," Carl Sagan observed, "correspond roughly to 10,000 times the previous photographic knowledge of Mars obtained over the history of mankind." Practically the whole feast is here in this book. Next to the Moon, Mars has always been the most intriguing object in the night sky and, a century ago, the first home of invading aliens. Recent discoveries have made the planet more interesting than ever before, and this lovely new volume sums up the knowledge, with sparkling writing and fabulous photos. Soon Mars may be the first planet in the solar system to be visited by aliens ourselves.

Reviewed by Michael Sims.

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