Galileo: Watcher of the Skies

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Product Details

Yale University Press
Publish Date
5.16 X 7.92 X 1.07 inches | 0.88 pounds

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About the Author

David Wootton is Anniversary Professor of History, University of York.


"Wootton has written a thoughtful biography full of Renaissance detail in which he shows Galileo as a towering figure of genius, a man whose science was conditioned by his character, and who character enabled him to formulate a unique view of the Universe and man's place in it.....This must be the definitive Galileo biography for the general reader."--Barry Kent, The Observatory Magazine Vol.131--Barry Kent "The Observatory Magazine Vol.131" (4/1/2011 12:00:00 AM)
"This book is not just a superb biography of Galileo but a good introduction to the centuries-old debate over religious and scientific views of truth."--Contemporary Review-- "Contemporary Review"
"Wootton's insights are unnervingly convincing..."--Nick Wilding, London Review of Books--Nick Wilding "London Review of Books" (6/2/2011 12:00:00 AM)
Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2011 in the Astronautics and Astronomy category--Choice Outstanding Academic Title "Choice" (3/12/2012 12:00:00 AM)
"Wootton's writing achieves its goals well and a thorough examination and understanding of the large number of Galileo's papers that have survived has allowed the author to deliver an absorbing account. . .Containing exhaustive notes and an excellent bibliography, Watcher of the Skies is a highly readable account of the life and career of the controversial, impulsive, often rebellious and ever-ambitious astronomer, author and scientist."--Brian Jones, BBC Sky at Night Magazine--Brian Jones "BBC Sky at Night Magazine" (2/1/2014 12:00:00 AM)
"In a quiverful of publications, David Wootton has made it his mission to help us view the Renaissance thought-world in new ways, and this elegant biography does not disappoint. The Galileo he portrays is no saint, either Catholic or secular, but is the more fascinating for revealing the great scientist's selfishness, anxiety and political ineptitude, together with all the intellectual blind alleys taken in struggles towards his eventual goal. Wootton vividly contrasts the religious and political claustrophobia of seventeenth-century Italy with the abstract beauty of the mathematics and geometry which so delighted his subject. This is an absorbing study worthy of the life-story it tells."--Diarmaid MacCulloch--Diarmaid MacCulloch
"Wootton's Galileo is many things: private unbeliever, reluctant empiricist and impetuous thinker. This brilliant book traces Galileo's difficult negotiations of academic jealousies, court politics and ecclesiastical scrutiny, allows us to imagine the excitement and danger of looking through a telescope in Venice, and gives fresh insights into the mind and the man as father and son. A remarkable achievement."--Justin Champion--Justin Champion
"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"
"Wittily challenging... Wootton boldly presents his book as an intellectual biography which cannot be isolated from contemporary attitudes to tradition and innovation, and which cannot focus on Galileo's ideas without considering his personality and personal relations."--Claudio Vita-Finzi, Times Literary Supplement--Claudio Vita-Finzi "Times Literary Supplement" (12/24/2010 12:00:00 AM)
"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"
"Fascinating reading. . . . With this highly adventurous portrayal of Galileo's inner world, Wootton assures himself a high rank among the most radical recent Galileo interpreters. . . . Undoubtedly Wootton makes an important contribution to Galileo scholarship."--John F. Haught, America --John F. Haught "America "
"A deeply erudite historian by trade and a passionate revisionist by temperament. . . . Read Wootton to meet a Galileo who was always estranged from vital aspects of his social and cultural world-and used that estrangement, as a great intellectuals do, to fuel his intellectual progress."--Anthony Grafton, Bookforum --Anthony Grafton "Bookforum"
"I heartily recommend [this book].... Wootton aims at an intellectual biography and the results are often magnificent, especially when it comes to explaining the science."--Jonathon Wright, Catholic Herald--Jonathon Wright "Catholic Herald" (1/21/2011 12:00:00 AM)
"...vivid and compelling... [An] engaging subtle and arresting story."--Eileen Reeves, Times Higher Education--Eileen Reeves "Times Higher Education" (12/16/2010 12:00:00 AM)
"Engaging and accessible."--James Wilsdon, Financial Times--James Wilsdon "Financial Times" (10/16/2010 12:00:00 AM)
"Wootton writes a fascinating book.... As a whole, the book is absolutely first rate, and well worth reading and re-reading."--Revd Jeremy Craddock, Church Times--Revd Jeremy Craddock "Church Times" (11/26/2010 12:00:00 AM)
"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"