The Book Nobody Read by Owen Gingerich
Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus

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After three decades of investigation, and after traveling hundreds of thousands of miles across the globe-from Melbourne to Moscow, Boston to Beijing-Gingerich has written an utterly original book built on his experience and the remarkable insights gleaned from examining some 600 copies of De revolutionibus. He found the books owned and annotated by Galileo, Kepler and many other lesser-known astronomers whom he brings back to life, which illuminate the long, reluctant process of accepting the Sun-centered cosmos and highlight the historic tensions between science and the Catholic Church. He traced the ownership of individual copies through the hands of saints, heretics, scalawags, and bibliomaniacs. He was called as the expert witness in the theft of one copy, witnessed the dramatic auction of another, and proves conclusively that De revolutionibus was as inspirational as it was revolutionary.Part biography of a book, part scientific exploration, part bibliographic detective story, The Book Nobody Read recolors the history of cosmology and offers new appreciation of the enduring power of an extraordinary book and its ideas.

About Owen Gingerich

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Owen Gingerich is senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, research professor of astronomy and of the history of science at Harvard University, and a leading authority on Johannes Kepler and Nicolaus Copernicus. He has been vice president of the American Philosophical Society and chairman of the U.S. National Committee of the International Astronomical Union. He and his wife, Miriam, live in Cambridge, Massachusetts; avid travelers (he has successfully observed twelve total solar eclipses), they collect rare books and shells.
Published May 26, 2009 by Walker Books. 306 pages
Genres: Science & Math, History, Political & Social Sciences, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Book Nobody Read

Publishers Weekly

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In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus, astronomer and "Catholic canon at the Frauenburg [Poland] cathedral," published De revolutionibus (On the Revolutions of th

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The New York Times

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To paint the Big Bang as a Kuhnian revolution and paradigm shift, Singh must identify the previous paradigm, which he chooses as a belief in an infinitely old universe with no beginning.

Feb 20 2005 | Read Full Review of The Book Nobody Read: Chasing...

Publishers Weekly

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Handwriting analysis of marginalia, for example, enabled Gingerich to determine who owned many of the copies and to document how critical new ideas spread across Europe and beyond, while an examination of watermarks and glue helps demonstrate whether books have been altered.

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Entertainment Weekly

After reading critic Arthur Koestler's almost casual dismissal of Copernicus' groundbreaking 1543 tome ''De revolutionibus,'' Gingerich began his 30-year crusade to restore the reputation of the Polish-born genius who first challenged the long-held notion of an earth-centric universe.

Feb 27 2004 | Read Full Review of The Book Nobody Read: Chasing...


Part mystery, part journey of discovery, part history, Gingerich's book is an intriguing look at the founders of our scientific tradition and their impact on the modern world.

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London Review of Books

Copernicus admitted all this to make sense of certain qualitative features of the behaviour of the planets: in particular, the limited elongations (angular distances from the Sun as seen from the Earth) of Mercury and Venus, and the stations and retrogradations of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

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