If you are looking at this review and considering buying Death from the Skies!, that probably means you have some interest in astronomy--if you do, I promise you will love this book. It is probably the most engaging non-fiction book I have ever read--I couldn't put it down. Phil Plait uses teaser stories at the beginning of each chapter, describing what it would be like to experience the various cosmic threats he covers. These are incredibly effective at grabbing your attention. Each time I read a new teaser, I couldn't stop myself from reading the rest of the chapter. In addition, the chapters, though they are packed with science, are very accessible and full of wit. Plait has a great sense of humor, and a gift for clear explanation. You do not need any kind of background in astro, physics, or math to get what he is talking about. I took a lot of astro in college so the concepts in the book were already familiar to me, which may have helped me to plow through the book quickly, but I don't think that sort of background is crucial. Anyway, I was an art history major, so it's not like I am some great expert on astronomy. If you are interested, you will be able to get what Plait is talking about.
This book has really reawakened my interest in the cosmos--I've started reading more astro and doing stuff like watching Jupiter and its moons as they change positions each night, stuff I hadn't done in ages. In addition, the book gave me a sense of perspective on Earth's place in the universe. There are some very thought-provoking ideas here, especially in the chapter about the end of the universe, which gets a little philosophical (in a good way). Plait also has a lot of good, practical stuff to say about risk assessment and what we can or should actually do about the threats he covers. This is a great strength of the book, reminding us to think before we give in to terror (and not just terror from the skies).
If you are reading this review and have any interest in astronomy, I can tell you without any reservations: get this book. You are in for a great ride, one that is plenty rewarding.
And to Phil Plait: write another one soon!!