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Let It Shine - 6,000 Years of Solar Energy

Credits: ©2019 John Perlin / New World Library

If there's one, primary, ultimate book about humans' use of solar energy, this is it. Let It Shine by John Perlin tells the entire story of humankind’s use of solar energy, reaching back to stone age China, and then bringing the story all the way up to 2013 in 544 pages. This book is unique as it tells the story of humankind’s more than 6,000 year use of solar energy. For example, Perlin reports that the first photovoltaic cells joined the grid on a New York City rooftop in 1881 and that engineers in France used solar power to run steam engines in the 1860s. How about an ostrich farmer in Southern California in 1901 who used a solar engine with a massive 33-1/2 foot mirrored dish to irrigate 300 acres of trees by pumping 1,400 gallons of water every minute from a reservoir using nothing but the power of the sun? In 1980 author John Perlin wrote the first edition of Let It Shine called A Golden Thread which became an important resource for people like me studying solar architecture. That book covered from about 2,500 years ago through the late 1970s, earning excellent reviews from major news outlets, and became a classic. Let It Shine outshines The Golden Thread with its continued breadth and abundant illustrations.


Let It Shine Book Cover

Let It Shine by John Perlin ©2013 New World Library

An international expert on solar energy and forestry, John Perlin has lectured extensively on these topics in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Perlin is the author of A Forest Journey: The Story of Wood and Civilization as well as From Space to Earth: The Story of Solar Electricity. His forerunner to Let It Shine was The Golden Thread. Perlin mentors those involved in realizing photovoltaic, solar hot-water, and energy-efficiency technologies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and coordinates the California Space Grant Consortium as a member of UCSB’s department of physics.