Short, professional autobiographies of the founders of space physics have been solicited by AGU's History Committee and published in special sections of Space Physics issues of the Journal of Geophysical Research. Here we have a book-length professional autobiography by the discoverer of magnetospheric substorms, which is arguably the most intensely researched topic in the field.

Probably the book's most valuable contribution to the history of space physics is precisely the narration of the discovery of substorms. Exploring the Secrets of the Aurora has an epic quality. It starts with Akasofu's insight that the auroral zone—a circumpolar zone that auroras inhabit, with geographic borders established in the previous century—is a fiction. There followed a struggle to replace it with the concept of an expandable auroral oval, which has quite a different shape. The road to final success entailed Akasofu's installing a chain of aurora-imaging, “all-sky” cameras stretching the north-south length of Alaska. These proved the point and set a precedent for north-south aligned magnetometer chains.