Caesar’s Last Breath

Sam Kean

Discover the fascinating history and inner workings of Earth’s atmosphere in Sam Kean’s captivating new book, Caesar’s Last Breath. In his signature style, Kean takes readers on a journey through time, exploring the air around us and its impact on civilization. From the poisonous gases of ancient Earth to the innovations of steelmaking and anesthesia, this book is a blend of storytelling and scientific exploration.

With a conversational tone and captivating anecdotes, Kean sheds light on the often overlooked importance of air. He delves into the history of atmospheres, using events like the volcanic eruption of Mount Saint Helens to reveal how our understanding of the air has evolved. Along the way, he entertains readers with tales of World War I, Charles Dickens’ controversy about oxygen, and even the unique talents of La Pétomane.

Kean’s approach strikes a balance between erudition and approachability, making complex concepts accessible to all readers. While occasionally sacrificing scientific depth for humor, the book remains engaging and informative. Although some may find the structure of the book disjointed, the energy and curiosity shining through make up for any shortcomings.

Caesar’s Last Breath concludes by pondering the future, speculating on the minds of space travelers inhaling the air of distant planets. Kean reminds us that the air we breathe not only sustains us but also connects us on a profound level.

Intriguing and thought-provoking, Caesar’s Last Breath invites readers to appreciate the invisible marvels that surround us every day.