A Man of Misconceptions by John Glassie
The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change

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It’s all very amusing, but Glassie rarely if ever pauses to put the man in a larger context...In cinematic terms, it’s a problem of too many close-ups, not enough long shots.
-NY Times

Synopsis

A Scientific American Best Science Book of 2012
An Atlantic Wire Best Book of 2012
A New York Times Book Review “Editor's Choice”

The “fascinating” (The New Yorker) story of Athanasius Kircher, the eccentric scholar-inventor who was either a great genius or a crackpot . . . or a bit of both.

The interests of Athanasius Kircher, the legendary seventeenth-century priest-scientist, knew no bounds. From optics to music to magnetism to medicine, he offered up inventions and theories for everything, and they made him famous across Europe. His celebrated museum in Rome featured magic lanterns, speaking statues, the tail of a mermaid, and a brick from the Tower of Babel. Holy Roman Emperors were his patrons, popes were his friends, and in his spare time he collaborated with the Baroque master Bernini.

But Kircher lived during an era of radical transformation, in which the old approach to knowledge—what he called the “art of knowing”— was giving way to the scientific method and modern thought. A Man of Misconceptions traces the rise, success, and eventual fall of this fascinating character as he attempted to come to terms with a changing world.

With humor and insight, John Glassie returns Kircher to his rightful place as one of history’s most unforgettable figures.
 

About John Glassie

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JOHN GLASSIE is a former contributing editor to The New York Times Magazine who has also written for Salon, The Believer, and Wired. He is the author of the photo book Bicycles Locked to Poles and lives in Brooklyn.
 
Published November 8, 2012 by Riverhead Books. 353 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for A Man of Misconceptions
All: 2 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Jad Abumrad on Jan 04 2013

It’s all very amusing, but Glassie rarely if ever pauses to put the man in a larger context...In cinematic terms, it’s a problem of too many close-ups, not enough long shots.

Read Full Review of A Man of Misconceptions: The ... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by JENNIFER SCHUESSLER on Dec 30 2012

...the sheer sprawl of the man’s mostly untranslated output...thwarts any hope of a clean narrative arc.

Read Full Review of A Man of Misconceptions: The ... | See more reviews from NY Times

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