The end of night Searching for natural darkness in an age of artificial light

Paul Bogard, 1966-

Book - 2013

Describes how ever-present, modern artificial lights have changed the way humans experience darkness and bemoans the fact that the primal dark sky can no longer influence science and art.

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New York : Little, Brown, and Company 2013.
Main Author
Paul Bogard, 1966- (-)
First edition
Physical Description
ix, 325 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 277-312) and index.
  • Introduction: To Know the Dark
  • 9. From a Starry Night to a Streetlight
  • 8. Tales from Two Cities
  • 7. Light That Blinds, Fear That Enlightens
  • 6. Body, Sleep, and Dreams
  • 5. The Ecology of Darkness
  • 4. Know Darkness
  • 3. Come Together
  • 2. The Maps of Possibility
  • 1. The Darkest Places
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index
Review by Choice Review

It is rare for people to be in real, true darkness, without a nearby light source. The author's fascination with the contrast between dark and light--and the rapidly vanishing darkness in the world--started one late evening in Morocco when a "snowstorm" of stars whirled all around him. Since then, Bogard (creative nonfiction, James Madison Univ.) has been searching out pockets of true darkness that remain in the US, and finding out what it means to grow up on a planet that is almost constantly artificially lit. From the gaslit streets of Paris and London to the now-bright neighborhood where he was raised, Bogard takes readers on a voyage showing the physical and mental impacts of living without true darkness and asks what changes society can make for the betterment of all. This is not a preachy tome, but rather a thoughtful treatise and journey throughout history and the modern world, showing readers the natural, essential beauty they can so easily see in the dark. A thoughtful and thorough notes section at the end, plus index, makes this an extremely useful book for libraries serving biological and environmental studies/environmental sciences departments. Non-academics will also find Bogard's writing highly approachable and engrossing. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All library collections. S. E. Brazer Salisbury University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

In this artful blend of environmental and cultural history, Bogard manages to make a book about light pollution pure reading ­pleasure. As he travels the world looking for dark spaces that best reveal the night skies, Bogard considers our affinity for artificial light, the false sense of security it provides, and its implications. He studies the skies of Las Vegas and Paris, Walden Pond and Mantua, Italy. He walks with lighting designers, naturalists, and astronomers while pondering the best way to embrace the night. Authors such as Thoreau and Henry Beston serve as hallmarks, while the thoughtfulness with which Bogard considers such broadly diverse issues as the impact of working the night shift and the persecution of bats, quintessential creatures of the night, is inspiring. Bogard urges readers to weigh the ramifications of light pollution and our failure to address them, illustrating his arguments with photographs that prove his point (most staggeringly, a satellite shot of Europe's light pollution). Smart, surprising, and thoroughly enjoyable.--Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Bogard (editor, Let There Be Night: Testimony on Behalf of the Dark) spent his childhood summers in a lakeside cabin in Minnesota, where he savored the night in all its inky blackness and took away with him a lifelong appreciation for the darkest hours. In this moving, poetic study, the professor of creative nonfiction at James Madison University examines from numerous angles the night and how we experience it, traveling to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Walden Pond, and the Canary Islands to soak up varying degrees of darkness. After talking to astronomers, lighting professionals, nurses, and other night-shift workers, Bogard goes on to explore the implications of a night that's getting brighter every minute, thanks in large part to parking lot lights and streetlights. Discussions on lighting's role in safety (some research suggests a direct correlation between higher crime rates and increased street lighting), as well as public health (he notes that studies indicate a possible relationship between light at night and cancer rates), add to the story, making this an immersive, multifaceted, and thought-provoking study. Even readers unable to tell Orion from the Big Dipper will find a new appreciation for the night sky after spending some time with this terrific book. 13 b&w photos. Agent: Farley Chase, Chase Literary Agency (July 9) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

In the past 100 years, the electric light has changed the face of night. True dark, once a regular occurrence, is now a scarce commodity, even in the most rural areas. This homage to night is really two books. As a collector of night skies, Bogard lovingly describes his trips to rare spots where one can still escape the almost omni-present atmospheric reflections of metropolitan lightscapes. To these descriptions he has added information-summaries of scientific research, literary quotes, and his own metaphysical musings on the effects and importance of dark, as well as suggestions for what modern society can do to ameliorate the problem. Unfortunately, while the wide-ranging quotes from such individuals as astronomers, naturalists, philosophers, medical researchers, and night shift workers are fascinating, the travelog becomes repetitive after the first three or four tours. Bogard narrates, and after a slightly stiff start, the author has a very pleasant, relaxed reading voice. -VERDICT Recommended for individuals interested in personal narratives and explorations of nature, astronomy, or -ecology. ["Bogard will leave readers in awe of darkness and in admiration of his book. For discerning naturalists": LJ 6/15/13 starred review of the Little, Brown hc.]-I. Pour-El, -Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

An ardent opponent of light pollution chronicles how the darkness of night is disappearing around much of the world, why that matters, and what can and should be done about it. Bogard (Creative Nonfiction/James Madison Univ.) travels around the world to its brightest and darkest places, looking up at the night sky. This book can be seen as a companion piece to the anthology Let There Be Night: Testimony on Behalf of the Dark (2008), in which the author gathered 29 individual voices on the subject; here, the voice is his own but with generous quotes from scientists and activists whom he has sought out in his travels. Among the places he visited are not only the cities of Las Vegas, Paris, Florence and New York, but also Walden Pond, small towns and remote places such as Death Valley, Chaco Canyon, the Canary Islands and the Isle of Sark. Bogard fondly and movingly remembers times when night was really dark, but he fears that such experiences will be unknown to most of humanity. The loss, as he explains, is not merely an aesthetic or even a spiritual one; artificial lighting may be having serious impacts on our health and on the environment. The author talked to researchers who see a link between lighting and cancer and to naturalists who note the impact of artificial outdoor lighting on other species, such as birds, bats and bees. The efforts of the National Park Service to set up dark-sky preserves gives Bogard reason for optimism, and his conversations with outdoor lighting experts indicate that feasible energy-reducing approaches are available. What's needed is awareness, which the author provides in an appealing, reader-friendly way. An engaging blend of personal story, hard science and a bit of history.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.