From p. 199: It was consequently thought, at once, that all nebulae might be shown to be star clusters under sufficiently high powers of the telescope. But the spectrascope has shown that such an inference is untenable, as the spectra of the two things are quite different, and that the spectrum of a nebula contains a line which is found nowhere else, and which is attributed to some substance called nebulum, and which is totally unknown anywhere except in a nebula.
I propose we adopt neo-nebulum as a more neutral term than dark matter!!
The issue is that, ultimately, the only thing we can observe is electromagnetic waves, characterized by frequency, polarization and intensity, and originating from some point on a 2D sphere. Everything else is interpretation. So cosmology today consists of dozens of layers of interpretation stacked upon one another and for me (as a mathematical physicist who once dabbled in cosmology but is ultimately an outsider to the field) it's hard to keep track of all the assumptions and the causal chains of observations and interpretations that are implicit in today's widely accepted results.
To give an example, people say that the universe is expanding and they point to redshift (~ (apparent) velocity) measurements such as those done by Hubble. Great, but how do you measure redshift as a function of distance if all you see is a 2D sky and you can't "see" the axis parallel to your line of sight? You introduce various distance measures like angular distance and luminosity distance which are based upon the notions of standard rulers and standard candles. But these are not exactly trivial to get right, either, and AFAIU rest upon an entire body of theories from astrophysics and plasma physics. Plus, there are countless of things that can happen to electromagnetic waves on their way to Earth (absorption, gravitational lensing, Sachs-Wolfe effect, …) and you must account for those, too.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to cast doubt on any of the currently accepted theories. Not in the least. Nor is the particular example above not well-understood. I'm just saying that, for an outsider, it's not easy to follow the chain of implications sometimes and many books don't do a very good job of logical bookkeeping. A book painting the architecture of the Standard Model in broad but logically accurate strokes would go a long way.
Meanwhile, I notice reruns of "Through the Wormhole" on TV every other year with Morgan Freeman going on about hypotheticals like string theory, parallel universes and such, while completely foregoing the (well-established but IMO still exciting) "basics". It's almost physically painful to imagine what additional confusion this must cause the layman that knows barely anything about physics in the first place. Any sufficiently advanced physical theory is indistinguishable from magic comes to mind.
 See the conundrum there?
 and some ionized radiation, and now of course gravitational waves.
 "Everything is interpretation" not in the esoteric sense but of course in the sense that we draw logically stringent conclusions based upon already well-established physical theories.
J. D. Bernal's _A History of Classical Physics_ (1972) begins with ideas from ancient Greece and goes to the end of the 19th century. No math, but lots of pictures and diagrams. I have a 1997 reprint.
Stephen F. Mason's _A History of the Sciences_ (1962) covers chemistry and biology as well as physics, from Babylonia and Egypt to the mid twentieth century.
I am sure there are many others, but these, which include history and biography as well as scientific content, are good, readable overviews.
I'd really like to see how Newton, Kepler or Copernicus went about making their calculations, step by step. Break it down point by point to make it understandable without skipping steps. Like to see how Ptolmey constructed the star table.
Too many science books are either popular in nature with no math, or for someone doing a masters in the field. I guess there is not a large enough audience of people in the middle to justify writing such books.
My intention has been to take the astronomy of each era on its own terms and try to understand what questions they were trying to answer and what techniques they used to answer them. You tend to read things like "the Ptolemaic system was geocentric and had to use lots of epicycles to work and then 1500 years later Copernicus introduced a heliocentric system that didn't need epicycles." but I'm trying to explain how these systems developed, why epicycles seemed to be natural, how they figured out what epicycles were needed based on the observations they had made, etc.
The website is here if you're interested: www.songofurania.com
* A History of Astronomy by Pannekoek
* Aristarchus of Samos by Heath (this is actually a much broader history of Greek astronomy than its title suggests)
* Episodes in the Early History of Astronomy by Aaboe
* Exploring Ancient Skies by Kelly & Milone (much more technical, but also broader and more up to date than the other books)
If your ambition is a more detailed history of science account of the establishment of the distance ladder (up to some slightly distant point in time, as work is still ongoing, see the famous Hubble tension), try googling for articles about history of science and the distance ladder. That activity gives me this preview that might be interesting: https://www.jstor.org/stable/24536521
A full version can probably be found online.