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About the Author: Max Byrd

May Byrd is the author of a number of scholarly books on 18th century English literature, including Visits to Bedlam and London Transformed. Winner of the Shamus Award for best paperback private detective novel, his oeuvre of detective novels include the Book-of-the-Month Club selection Target of Opportunity. Byrd is also the author of four historical novels: Grant: A Novel, Jefferson: A Novel, Jackson: A Novel, and Shooting the Sun. He currently serves as the president of the board of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

Max Byrd has taught English at Yale and UC Davis, has been a visiting professor at Stanford, and has lectured at UC Berkeley, Warwick University, the Sorbonne, and Monticello. Among the many publications featuring Byrd’s articles and book reviews are the Yale Review, New York Times Book Review, New Republic, and Woodrow Wilson Quarterly. He has served as editor of the scholarly journal Eighteenth-Century Studies.


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Goodreads rating: 3.56

Paperback, Published in Oct 2004 by Bantam

ISBN10: 0553583697 | ISBN13: 9780553583694

Page count: 320

Charles Babbage was an English genius of legendary eccentricity. He invented the cowcatcher, the ophthalmoscope, and the “penny post.” He was an expert lock picker, he wrote a ballet, he pursued a vendetta against London organ-grinders that made him the laughingstock of Europe. And all his life he was in desperate need of enormous sums of money to build his fabled reasoning machine, the Difference Engine, the first digital computer in history.

To publicize his Engine, Babbage sponsors a private astronomical expedition—a party of four men and one remarkable woman—who will set out from Washington City and travel by wagon train two thousand miles west, beyond the last known outposts of civilization. Their ostensible purpose is to observe a total eclipse of the sun predicted by
Babbage’s computer, and to photograph it with the newly invented camera of Louis Daguerre.

The actual purpose, however…

Suffice it to say that in Shooting the Sun nothing is what it seems, eclipses have minds of their own, and even the best computer cannot predict treachery, greed, and the fickle passions of the human heart.


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