A non-technical, non-mathematical primer on the laser, with an extensive (almost one-third of the book) introductory survey of optics research from Galileo and Newton to Planck, Einstein and Bohr. Elementary theory is woven into a chronological report on the laser's development from Townes' maser to Javon's gas laser and beyond, and the extraneous biographical padding so common at this level is eschewed. Holography is briefly discussed in a closing chapter on laser applications. This can't compete with the fuller, more advanced coverage by Patrusky (1966) or Klein (1963), but youngsters who are ordinarily ill at ease with science will find that Bova anticipates their difficulties, and they'll appreciate his careful definitions of all technical terms, his down-to-earth explanations of concepts, and his frequent use of analogies -- fingerprints, a "run" on a bank, etc. -- to clarify his points.