BOOK REVIEW: Galileo (Mitch Stokes)

Throughout his life, Galileo struggled financially and rarely received the credit he deserved for his research and experiments.  Galileo was highly intelligent and excelled in many areas, including painting, music, singing, prose, math, science, debate and astronomy.  His theories of a sun-centered universe and a rotating earth came to the attention of the Catholic Church and ultimately put him under house arrest by the Inquisition.  They viewed him as a borderline heretic because (in their opinion) his views were in conflict with the Biblical passage in Joshua about the sun standing still.  Despite his lifelong challenges, Galileo continued to teach and to write, even dictating his final musings completely blind and bed-ridden. 

Before reading this book, I could not have told you that Galileo was a devout Catholic from Florence, invented the pendulum clock, had 3 children out of wedlock, or was put under house arrest in his later years.  The reader really has to concentrate to keep the names and concepts straight in the first half of the book: Aristotle, Augustine, Archimedes, Pythagoras, Euclid...heliocentric, geocentric, inertia, motion, etc.  Although dry at times because of the subject matter, the text is very readable and well-written.  It was sad to read that this legendary figure rarely received validation of his theories because of the reigning religious and scientific views of the day.  I would have enjoyed a more in-depth look at his personality and relationships, but perhaps that information is not documented.  I am glad I read this book and would recommend it to others who want to discover how Galileo charted his own path and influenced science as we know it today.

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