Boxer points out, astrology was not killed off but has merely adapted to new conditions. Newspapers here and in America carry astrological columns describing the personality traits relating to your zodiacal sign. These are, he regrets, “artfully vague” and “wishy-washy” compared with the forthright bulletins issued by the old astrologers, which might contain things about yourself you’d rather not know, including the hour of your death. Forman foretold his own accurately, even predicting correctly that it would take place in a boat on the Thames. Those who scan newspaper astrology columns, on the other hand, might well be driven by nothing more sinister than a wish to read something flattering about themselves, which must be a common human trait whatever your zodiacal sign.
While the maths isn’t written with the lay person in mind and the astrology at times goes in at the deep end, the anecdotes carry this otherwise quite readable work. Happily, there isn’t any indulgence of occult nonsense. This is a book about a very human aspect of astrology — our desire to understand our fate — and its history, as well as the fallibility of data analysis, which is often far more subjective than it might seem at first glance.