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Harry Y. McSween's latest book, Meteorites and Their Parent Planets, is not intended primarily as a textbook or a technical reference for the dedicated researcher in meteoritics. Several up-to-date books along these lines already exist (Meteorites: A Petrologic-Chemical Synthesis, by R. T. Dodd, Cambridge University Press, London, 1981; Meteorites: Their Record of Early Solar System History, by J. T. Wasson, W. H. Freeman, San Francisco, Calif., 1985; Meteorites and the Early Solar System, edited by J. F. Kerridge and M. Matthews, University of Arizona Press, Tucson, in press, 1988). Rather, it is intended as an introduction of the field of meteoritics and the study of the formation and evolution of the Solar System, and it is aimed at a broad spectrum of scientists and nonscientists.

McSween has undertaken a difficult task. Many problems in meteoritics require synthesis of information and lines of reasoning from such diverse and highly specialized areas of study as celestial mechanics, astrophysics, cratering dynamics, spectrophotometry, igneous petrology, and isotope geochemistry. Hence these problems are often difficult for the student, or even the advanced researcher, to grasp and are rarely appreciated by the nonscientist. McSween, however, succeeds remarkably well in presenting this complex subject in a way that any curious, intelligent person can understand.