Galileo (1564-1642) is one of the most important and controversial figures in the history of science. A hero of modern science and key to its birth, he was also a deeply divided man: a scholar committed to the establishment of scientific truth yet forced to concede the importance of faith, and a brilliant analyst of the elegantly mathematical workings of nature yet bungling and insensitive with his own family.
Tackling Galileo as astronomer, engineer, and author, David Wootton places him at the center of Renaissance culture. He traces Galileo through his early rebellious years; the beginnings of his scientific career constructing a "new physics"; his move to Florence seeking money, status, and greater freedom to attack intellectual orthodoxies; his trial for heresy and narrow escape from torture; and his house arrest and physical (though not intellectual) decline. Wootton reveals much that is new--from Galileo's premature Copernicanism to a previously unrecognized illegitimate daughter--and, controversially, rejects the long-established orthodoxy which holds that Galileo was a good Catholic.
Absolutely central to Galileo's significance--and to science more broadly--is the telescope, the potential of which Galileo was the first to grasp. Wootton makes clear that it totally revolutionized and galvanized scientific endeavor to discover new and previously unimagined facts. Drawing extensively on Galileo's voluminous letters, many of which were self-censored and sly, this is an original, arresting, and highly readable biography of a difficult, remarkable Renaissance genius.
"Wootton's biography has much to recommend it. It is engagingly written and offers fresh insights into Galileo's intellectual development."-James Hannam, Standpoint Magazine
* Standpoint Magazine *
"Wootton. . . argues persuasively in this well researched, intellectual biography that Galileo was a Copernican long before his discovery of the moons of Jupiter proved that not all heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth."-Manjit Kumar, Sunday Telegraph
* Telegraph *
"Urgent. . . will garner. . . immediate interest and controversy."-Literary Review
* Literary Review *
"Wootton [is] a deeply erudite historian by trade and a passionate revisionist by temperament...Read Wooton to meet a Galileo who was always estranged froom vital aspects of his social and cultural world--and used that estrangement, as great intellectuals do, to fuel his intellectual progress."-Anthony Grafton, Bookforum -- Anthony Grafton * Bookforum *
"[This book] demonstrates an awesome command of the vast Galileo literature. . . . Wootton excels in boldly speculating about Galileo's motives and the overall trajectory of his life. . . . [An] engaging account."-Owen Gingerich, The New York Times Book Review -- Owen Gingerich * The New York Times Book Review *
"Wootton has written a lively book that is interesting to read, and one can concentrate on the fascinating details from the extensive research."-Noel M. Swerdlow, American Scientist -- Noel M. Swerdlow * American Scientist *
"[This book] demonstrates an awesome command of the vast Galileo literature. . . . Wootton excels in boldly speculating about Galileo's motives and the overall trajectory of his life. . . . [An] engaging account."-Owen Gingerich, The New York Times Book Review -- John Derbyshire * The New Criterion *
"[This book] demonstrates awesome command of the vast Galileo literature. . . . Wootton excels in speculating about Galileo's motives and in the overall trajectory of his life. . . . [An] engaging account."-The New York Times Book Review * The New York Times Book Review *
" . . . a thought-provoking picture of him [Galileo]. . . . To read this account of how his ideas clashed witht he accepted ones is to appreciate that he is one of the world's great secular heroes."-Rob Hardy, The Commercial Dispatch -- Rob Hardy * The Commercial Dispatch *
Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2011 in the Astronautics and Astronomy category -- Choice Outstanding Academic Title * Choice *
Number Of Pages: 354
Published: 2nd November 2010
Publisher: Yale University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.6 x 3.12
Weight (kg): 0.75