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The Abacus and the Cross: The Story of the Pope Who Brought the Light of Science to the Dark Agesby Nancy Marie Brown
Synopses & Reviews
The medieval Catholic Church, widely considered a source of intolerance and inquisitorial fervor, was not anti-science during the Dark Agesand#151;in fact, the pope in the year 1000 was the leading mathematician and astronomer of his day. Called and#147;The Scientist Pope,and#8221; Gerbert of Aurillac rose from peasant beginnings to lead the church. By turns a teacher, traitor, kingmaker, and visionary, Gerbert is the first Christian known to teach math using the nine Arabic numerals and zero.
In The Abacus and the Cross, Nancy Marie Brown skillfully explores the new learning Gerbert brought to Europe. A fascinating narrative of one remarkable math teacher, The Abacus and the Cross will captivate readers of history, science, and religion alike.
Book News Annotation:
Science writer Brown tells the life story of Gerbert d'Aurillac, better known as Pope Sylvester II, the pope of the year 1000. She dwells on his mathematical and scientific ability but does not ignore the political intrigue that often put him out of favor with kings and earlier popes. Her explanation of his scientific knowledge corrects many long held myths, such as that everyone believed the world would end in AD 1000 and that everyone thought the earth was flat. However, she creates new ones in the process. The reader is left to think that, after Gerbert's brief light, the "Dark Ages" closed in again and no more science was accomplished until the "Renaissance." Too much of her story is told in scientific "either/or" terms when history is much more "and/also." Her effort is laudable but her background understanding incomplete. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
An acclaimed science writer tells the story of Pope Sylvester II, the erstwhile mathematician, astronomer, and spy, who brought Islamic science to the West before the year 1000
About the Author
Nancy Marie Brown is the author of The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman and Mendel in the Kitchen, named one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2004 by Library Journal. She lives in Vermont.
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History and Social Science » Western Civilization » Medieval