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The Earth Moves: Galileo and the Roman Inquisition (Great Discoveries)by Dan Hofstadter
Synopses & Reviews
Celebrated, controversial, condemned, Galileo Galilei is a seminal figure in the history of science. Both Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein credit him as the first modern scientist. His 1633 trial before the Holy Office of the Inquisition is the prime drama in the history of the conflict between science and religion. In Galileo's day, Rome was the capital of a sovereign theocratic power, which in 1600 had executed Giordano Bruno on similar charges and reserved the right to torture Galileo.Galileo was then sixty-nine years old and the most venerated scientist in Italy. Although subscribing to an anti-literalist view of the Bible, as per Saint Augustine, Galileo considered himself a believing Catholic.Playing to his own strengths--a deep knowledge of Italy, a longstanding interest in Renaissance and Baroque lore--Dan Hofstadter explains apparent paradoxes and limns this historic moment in the widest cultural context, portraying Galileo as both humanist and scientist.
"Hofstadter (Falling Palace: A Romance of Naples) draws upon his intimate knowledge of Italian culture, literature and art-as well as new material released from Vatican archives-for this political, scientific and psychological examination of the 'first great clash of religion and science,' between Galileo and Pope Urban VIII, two seminal figures who were, incredibly, once friends. The context for Galileo's 1633 trial involved political and scientific upheavals involving better technology (Galileo's major improvements on the telescope) and a 1616 Church edict against heliocentrism meant to protect the Scripture from the free interpretation of laypeople. Despite the political cost, Galileo produced a philosophic treatise on the subject, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems (originally licensed for publication by the Church) that championed the 'banned hypothesis thesis' and suggested that astronomical references in scripture were metaphorical. Hofstadter tells the concise, absorbing tale of Galileo's persecution with both sides of the conflict in mind, charting with grace the genesis of the Western world's most persistent ideological divide." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A cogent portrayal of the beginnings of modern science and a turning point in the evolution of the freedom of thought.
About the Author
Dan Hofstadter is the author of The Earth Moves and Falling Palace: A Romance of Naples (a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir). He has lived in Florence and Naples and speaks and reads Italian fluently. He lives in Rensselaerville, New York.
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