Did you know that 2000 years before Columbus people were sure the earth was round? In this story of early myths and concepts about our planet, Isaac Asimov investigates the thoughts behind the theory. How could the earth have been flat if people saw certain stars from one place on earth that they couldn’t see from another? How could it have been flat if the bottom of a ship disappeared first over the horizon before the top? These are the questions that stirred the minds of our early scholars and led to the concept of an earth shaped like a ball.

This is the very first entry in the very excellent and successful “How Did We Find Out” series which includes some three dozen titles and was written over the last two decades of Asimov’s career. It’s also the only entry in the series whose title doesn’t start “How Did We Find Out About…”

This is a good enough book in its own right, focusing (appropriately) on all the stuff that came before Columbus—because Columbus really had very little to do, directly, with finding out the shape of the Earth. Asimov covers this same ground elsewhere, in books like The Universe and Asimov’s New Guide to Science which an adult would find more interesting—but for the younger reader, I can think of few places better to point them to than this little volume.

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