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Cosmos

A Personal Voyage
Length: 14 hrs and 31 mins
4.7 out of 5 stars (378 ratings)

Non-member price: $41.78

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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, June 2017

As a big fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson's recent documentary series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which honors Carl Sagan's original work from 1980, I was excited to listen to Sagan's companion book - now available in audio for the first time. While I was a bit too young to catch Sagan's docuseries, LeVar Burton's Reading Rainbow did heavily influence my childhood, and this may be why my brain seemed primordially attuned to learn from Burton's voice. He's the perfect narrator for untangling complicated scientific subjects as well as highlighting their moments of majesty. I legit feel smarter for having listened to Cosmos, and I'll also never be able to forget why medieval Catholic monks first domesticated rabbits (hint: it wasn't because they were cute). —Emily, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Cosmos is one of the bestselling science books of all time. In clear-eyed prose, Sagan reveals a jewel-like blue world inhabited by a life form that is just beginning to discover its own identity and to venture into the vast ocean of space. Featuring a new Introduction by Sagan's collaborator, Ann Druyan, and a new Foreword by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos retraces the fourteen billion years of cosmic evolution that have transformed matter into consciousness, exploring such topics as the origin of life, the human brain, Egyptian hieroglyphics, spacecraft missions, the death of the Sun, the evolution of galaxies, and the forces and individuals who helped to shape modern science.

Includes introductory music: Heaven and Hell by Vangelis from Cosmos: A Personal Voyage used with permission from Druyan-Sagan Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.

©1980 Carl Sagan Productions, Inc (P)2017 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved. Foreword © 2013 by Ann Druyan. “Reflections on Carl Sagan’s Cosmos” essay © 2013 by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

What listeners say about Cosmos

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incredible book doesn't translate well into audio

Narration by Burton is overly energised with erratic pauses, and unnecessary dramatization which detracts from the scientific content being conveyed.

4 people found this helpful

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incredible

an incredible insight into carl sagans cosmic perspective. An absolute must listen for anyone interested in astronomy or science in general.

2 people found this helpful

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Worth every cent.

Beautiful. Just beautiful. Still relevant after all these years. Wonderfully narrated. A must have audio book for everyone.

7 people found this helpful

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Informative and interesting

Great book, so much information between the pages about our universe ranging from history to the imagination of what shapes the world around us. A must read to get information on what interests you in the universe and our world.

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A humane perspective on our place in the cosmos

Sagan continues to enthral readers with his dessemination of the micro and macro cosmos with exquisite detailing that never dithers near boredom. If you ever needed your hope restored in humanity, or wanted to know what ego death feels like- this book achieves this all with the right balance of science, history, philosophy and narration.

1 person found this helpful

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Brillant

Very easy listening, insightful and mostly still relevant today. Written by a true genius and read by amazing people. Loved it.

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Objectively great, but it does show its age.

A brilliant, insightful and deeply poetic story. And it is a story, the most grand story you’ll ever hear, seemlessly intertwining history, politics and science. It is missing a certain oooomph these days as the cutting edge science discussions have since been surpassed by greater, more recent ventures.

3 people found this helpful

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Whi did I wait so long

Majestic story telling and incredible perspective of the trivial nature of human race and our impact

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Terrible read for an iconic book

The book is a classic but the audiobook is totally ruined by a ridiculous and nonsensically breathless read. Could be a mundane phrase or the most profound sentence ever written - it is all the same to the narrator. Sad. I couldn’t go on with it.

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though provoking

couldn't get enough of this book sad it ended. very good for going to sleep

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  • Deb JOHNSON
  • 03-10-2017

Great except for the narration

Carl Sagan's writings are amazingly still so current today, that I am again struck by how much we missed when this genius died so young. My only criticism is that the breathless, rapid "gee whiz" style the main narrator uses is so opposite to the thoughtful, slow, deep voice of Carl Sagan that I longed for a return to those nights when I sat spellbound in front of the television enraptured by Sagan's own narration. This narrator completely missed the liquidity and thoughtfulness of the original work.

33 people found this helpful

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  • Seph
  • 09-11-2017

Over-acting voice actors

The story is great. And I loved LeVar Burton in Star Trek. My critique is that the majority of the book is narrated by LeVar and his constant over-acting of every line and the immense emphasis on every word makes it extremely tiring to listen to. He even does voices. A lot. It turns ridiculous.
Likewise, Ann Druyan is also audibly squinting, straining her voice, and reads every line like it's the most important revelation. When everything is important, nothing is.
Their voice-acting muddles the message, slows down the reading, and I feel less connected to Carls message as a consequence. I found myself increasingly annoyed with each chapter. Seth MacFarlane is much better.

I've stopped in chapter 8. Their over-acting has ruined this book for me. I cannot finish it.

266 people found this helpful

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  • DM
  • 11-09-2017

Levar Burton channelling Captain Kirk

What made the experience of listening to Cosmos the most enjoyable?

The book is wonderful but it is exhausting to listen to Levar Burton. I am a fan of his; don't get me wrong, and he should be a genius choice for this. But why is he channelling the classic James T. Kirk delivery? Weird spacing of phrases, strange emphases that distort sentence structures...after a while it gets too distracting and I have to take a break. This is disappointing as I typically listen to audiobooks on long drives.

The content is fascinating and Carl Sagan's enthusiasm, knowledge and love of science shines through regardless. Every few minutes I learn something new.

105 people found this helpful

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  • Ben Engelke
  • 26-07-2017

Inspiring. Innovative. Intelligent.

A fantastic personal journey. Carl Sagan's vision of the Cosmos is enduring and spot on for being written 30+ years ago. Only good will come from this planet's population reading or listening to his words.

23 people found this helpful

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  • John Watton
  • 24-08-2017

A powerful work that needs better narration

Cosmos is an important work on many levels. More care should have been chosen in the choosing coaching , and recruiting of narrators who are comfortable with the communication of cosmological language. LeVar Burton is an excellent actor, but does not (in my opinion) do well here.
It is a worthwhile purchase, but I recommend you watch both video productions of "Cosmos" as a precursor to purchasing this one.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Beta
  • 18-08-2017

Extremely Poor Narration

Would you try another book from Carl Sagan and/or the narrators?

I would try another book by Carl Sagan, as long as someone else reads the book the way that Carl would have read it.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Cosmos?

Extremely poor narration.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Their voices were extremely "dramatic". Accentuating every sentence. It was extremely annoying, and I gave up listening to it.

Do you think Cosmos needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Yes. As long as the same people do NOT read it.

Any additional comments?

I have the original hard back copy of this book. I have the paperback version. I have read them several times. I have the DVD version of the program. I have watched it several times. Carl Sagan is one of the most influential people in my life. I was extremely disappointed in the way this book was read. BTW, I also hated the remake of the TV show.

69 people found this helpful

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  • Mike C
  • 07-09-2017

Geordi LaForge Teaches you about the Universe

Great Content and Great Narrator! I grew up watching LeVar Burton on TNG and Reading Raonbow, so saying his narration was nostalgic is a bit of an understatement...but nostalgia aside, he does an amazing job. As for the content he reads, lets just say I am saddened that Carl Sagan died before I ever knew who he was.

While some of the more theoretical content in this book is now considered fact or debunked, Cosmos contains a fountain of knowledge about our universe. Sagan takes a detailed look at the process of the living universe attempting to understand itself, starting with a grand, intergalactic perspective, and slowly zooming in the lense all the way to our society, and our minds.

He does get a little heavy handed when it comes to nuclear war, but he wrote this during the Cold War, so good on him for trying to do something about it. I am a little depressed after finishing to realize our global society has changed so little since he released this book in 1980, but if you ignore the 37 year interval, it will give you a hopeful outlook on our future as a single species in a global society. Cosmos delves into the interconnectivity of our universe in a way most people never think of.

Get this book, and learn why we are an endangered species, why the big bang could have been a supernova explosion, and how each of us is made, of "star stuff".

36 people found this helpful

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  • Mike D.
  • 14-11-2017

A Classic.

Carl Sagan is brilliantly able to explain the questions being asked of the cosmos. A true masterpiece of modern science which holds up pretty well even after 30 years. All that said, I’m more inclined to recommend the updated Cosmos tv series by Neil Degrasse Tyson.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Carlos Rodriguez
  • 08-06-2017

Book for all Citizens of the Cosmos

As the title of this review implies, this book should be read by all those who can read and are inhabitants of the known universe. This truly uplifting masterpiece written by Carl Sagan should be taught to all children in school as one of humankind's finest literary works. The lucidity with which Carl delivers his insights about the Cosmos and our relationship to the Universe is eye opening and awe inspiring. If every human were raised to value the wisdom contained in this book, humans would finally set aside religious, political, territorial differences and disputes and achieve lasting peace across all parts of the earth. Resources will be shared, the environment protected, and scientific progress would lead the way toward a better life for all. It is my sincere hope that this book continue to be valued for millennia to come.

31 people found this helpful

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  • wbiro
  • 26-07-2017

Still Largely Up to Date

I can see now what most popular books on astronomy over the last 35+ years have tried to emulate (this book). I found the book largely still up to date - with phrases that current books still use. Then something pops up that makes you realize the actual date of the book (such as when he refers to a NASA mission scheduled for 1982).

49 people found this helpful

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  • Andrei S.
  • 23-01-2018

Astronomy and so much more

While some scientific aspects in the book might have changed in the meantime, the book is still as valuable today as it was almost 40 years ago. For people just getting introduced to astronomy it is still close enough to present views of the universe to give a good introduction and understanding. For the literate astronomers this can also be regarded as a sample of history. Just like Carl Sagan was looking at early astronomers' work and appreciating it with the benefit of hindsight, today's amateur astronomers can look at Carl Sagan's book and get a better understanding of the recent scientific history, with its debates and evolution.
But above all that, I'd say the biggest merit of this book is it made me want to go outside and just look at the vast sky above and the stars that fill it. It also gives a wonderful history of astronomy, as mentioned before.
Finally, the last chapter is sadly as relevant today as it was back then. In the last chapter Sagan raises issues about the dangers and absurdity of nuclear proliferation and the ridiculous amount of resources spent on war or the possibility of war. He raises issues about anti-scientific movements in society and how an uneducated society is more likely to throw itself into irrational conflicts. He raises issues about sexism and misogyny, about chauvinism and nationalism. While he was hopeful that these problems are on the way to being solved, it's sad to see that the world has regressed in the recent past, on all these issues, and that they are all just as relevant today.
So this book is not just an astronomy book. It's a book of education and culture, a book of science and history, a starting point for people to educate themselves.

29 people found this helpful

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  • S. Morris
  • 18-02-2019

Not Quite What I Expected

I had heard of the old TV series, Cosmos, many years back and had caught snippets of that show here and there. I also knew of Carl Sagan as one of the luminaries of Astronomy and so felt I ought to have a look at what others have rated so highly. First off, my attention to the quality of this production was drawn to the superb if a little theatrical at times, reading of this epic work by LeVar Burton. Burton is an astonishingly good reader and delivers an effortlessly fluid reading. Those of you familiar with his role as Geordi LaForge in Star Trek: The next Generation may notice on one or two occasions his rendition of an English man rather like his version of Watson from Sherlock Holmes in that show. Burton is a pleasure to listen to and I cannot say enough about how well he handles this sometimes difficult material with precise pronunciations that do not seem to phase him at all. However, what struck me the most about this incredible work was how little of it is actually spent on discussion of the planets, stars and the nature of the universe in general. I had expected Cosmos to be a real deep dive into the workings of our Solar System etc but what amazed me was that Cosmos is much more about history and in particular ancient history. It reads more like a treatise on the history of the pursuit of knowledge rather than dealing with what we currently understand about astronomy. Sagan dives deeply into the various great men of science over the centuries and how their discoveries helped change the way we view the Cosmos. So, if you are wanting in depth analysis on Pulsars, Black Holes, our Solar System etc then this is not a work that focuses greatly on those elements. It does discuss these things but more as a secondary thread compared to the historical narrative. Still, the sheer scope of this amazing book will mean that the reader will likely learn quite a few things you did not know about the discoveries made in the ancient world. Yes, this is about the Cosmos but much more from an historical review of how the great thinkers of the past shaped our understanding of things today. A very enlightening read but some may decide to go elsewhere for more focused astronomical books.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Honest Dude
  • 03-08-2017

Journey of the cosmos interlaced with history

Would you listen to Cosmos again? Why?

I would probably only listen to a couple of chapters again.

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Aspects of this book, I would definitely want to listen to in one sitting.

Any additional comments?

This is a great book. Whilst the subject matter is focused on the cosmos and everything to do with it. Carl Sagan does a brilliant job of seamlessly interlacing the subject matter with other branches of sciences not directly related. He introduces other discussions and areas without you as the listener noticing until you realise - hey what's that was interesting.

Carl does a very good job in providing explanations on the subject matter in a way that is generally easily understood, although for some of the more advanced concepts you will need to concentrate and have a presence of mind. Having said that, if this is the first book you listen to regarding the cosmos, it provides a great introduction.

I have listened to other astronomy books including Welcome to the Universe and I found that book to be very technical. I think this was due to the fact that it probably wasn't really suited for audio book format.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Jay
  • 22-06-2020

A great book narrated poorly

This is one of the greatest books ever written, by on of the best minds, but we all know that; half of this audiobook the speakers are just talking about how great this book is; and what they are planning to add in the book...it was a real bore to wait till they spoke any actual substance...

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-09-2017

Profound and moving

I had very fond memories on the tv series linked to this book, and this Audible version did not disappoint. Its profound and often moving messages are still as relevant and important as when they were first written- possibly even more so. Sagan provided a real understanding of what is known about the universe, and an idea of what is left to be discovered. It delivers some stark messages on the dangers of nuclear war (if only Donald Trump could read!) but is an ultimately hopeful and almost spiritual book.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Bill
  • 08-12-2019

Disappointing

Sadly I didn't think the narrator's voice did the book the justice it and I didn't enjoy listening to it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mr Ribit
  • 07-06-2018

Verbose

I think the writer was getting paid per page. I want to hear this stuff but it is very long-winded, story could be told in half as many words. I don't like the style of the narrator.

5 people found this helpful

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  • P. Stewart
  • 21-03-2018

Outdated unfortunately

It starts badly with introductory sessions that are patronising and justifying why they think the book is still relevant. I guess this was a warning! Science and astronomy has moved apace....this material hasn’t. Combine that with melodramatic narration and the disappointment rises too high. Each sentence is treated like an Oscar winning delivery. It gets tiring. Some great books are timeless. This is best left on the bookshelf of history. All too often you are left wondering how things are now...30 plus years later. On the plus side....I didn’t pay full price ;)

5 people found this helpful

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  • Russell
  • 05-09-2017

Inspirational Reading

I enjoyed the book as much as the TV series but some of the graphical visualisations were difficult to understand from an audio perspective.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Adrian
  • 11-12-2017

Awesome science, fascinating history, thoughtful philosophy

LeVar Burton’s narration is perfect: one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to. Carl Sagan’s writing inspires wonder, fascination, and thoughtfulness. The text moves seamlessly from modern astroscience, through ancient history, to evolutionary biology and moral philosophy. A long read/listen but worth the investment of time!

4 people found this helpful