Astrology Through History: Interpreting the Stars from Ancient Mesopotamia to the Present. Edited by William F. Burns. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2018. 401 pages. Acid-free $94 (ISBN 978-1-4408-5121-1), call for pricing.

This work differs from most existing reference works about astrology in two significant ways. First, as the title suggests, the focus is historical, tracing significant developments in astrology from ancient times to present and in a variety of cultures. Second, this work approaches astrology from a standpoint that is neither skeptical nor apologetic. The work would be as interesting to the critical skeptic as to the enthusiastic adherent. This work is an exploration of human attempts to find meaning in the heavenly bodies we observe in the sky.

The single volume contains 115 essays that are usually 2–3 pages in length. The essays are signed and provide “see also” references and useful bibliographies for further reading. Many of the essays are biographical. Some examples of biographical topics are “Evangeline Adams,” “Pythagoras of Samos,” “Carl G. Jung,” and “Bangalore Venkata Raman.” Some other topics include information related to the skies, such as “Fixed Stars”; astrology in times and places, such as “Mesoamerican Astrology”; astrology in society topics, such as “Court Astrologers”; astrological terms and tools, such as “Hamburg School of Astrology”; and a discussion of astrology and media, such as “Indian Cinema.”

Articles are clearly written with the layperson in mind and are quite readable, yet they are also obviously informed by scholarship. Contributors regularly refer to primary sources, define jargon, and place the topics in context. Particularly informative is the five-page introduction written by Burns and the timeline that follows. These provide a concise flyover to the history of astrology that draws one into the rest of the work.

The work includes a small number of grayscale photographs and reproduced artwork. It has an extensive index. The cover is an attractive hardback featuring a time-lapse photograph of stars above Stonehenge.

Astrology Through History is interesting and readable enough to find its place in a browsing collection, and informative enough to find itself in a reference collection. It would fit well in high school, public, and academic libraries.—Steven R. Edscorn, Executive Director of Libraries, Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, Oklahoma


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