Photons have a dual nature, but this book is even more multifaceted: part textbook, part mini-encyclopedia, part memoir, part history book and part not sure what. The 45 chapters cover topics across optics and photonics, in a nontechnical manner and using an often-humorous grandfatherly voice. Having worked in the field for more than 60 years, the author provides first-person historical perspectives on some of the more recent topics, relying on original sources for the rest. The choice of topics is driven by the author’s personal interests, focused on areas where he has the deepest expertise and the most first-person knowledge.
The illustrations include color photos of modern devices, along with old-fashioned diagrams (from original patent filings). A glossary and an illustrated bibliographic list are also included. An index would have been handy, as each chapter contains multiple short entries, while some topics are distributed across several chapters.
The book is a pleasure to read, highly informative and quite fun. Even though the book lacks problems and exercises, it could still serve as an introductory textbook—mainly to awaken the interest of young students via its friendly and accessible writing. For the professional looking for some work-related downtime, this is a book to curl up with.