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Copernicus' Secret: How the Scientific Revolution Began Hardcover – 26 Mar 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: JR Books Ltd; UK First Edition edition (26 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906217920
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906217921
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.4 x 22.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"* '...brings the astronomer to life in a way that past efforts have not quite achieved. He paints the sites in a particularly vivid fashion.' The New York Times"

About the Author

Jack Repcheck is an editor at WW Norton & Co, where he publishes the work of leading scientists and economists. His previous book was the critically acclaimed The Man Who Found Time: James Hutton and the Discovery of the Earth's Antiquity.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. J. Kilburn on 8 Jan. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
2009 was the International Year of Astronomy, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo's use of the telescope to first observe the night skies. In particular, planets were now recognised as being worlds like our own. 2009 is also the 400th anniversary of Johannes Kepler's mathematical explanation of how the planets moved, in elliptical orbits around the sun, not the earth, as previously thought for the past 1500 years. But both of these scientists owed their pursuasions to Nicholas Copernicus who, in 1543, had been the first to suggest a heliocentric planetary system (albeit with the planets moving in circular orbits) idea desperately close to heresay in a Catholic world-view that took the next two thirds of a century of increasingly refined observation and calculation to prove right.

Repcheck's book admirably explains Copernicus' Secret: How the Scientific Revolution began, and how what started as one man's idea blossomed with the support of a handful of Central European natural philosophers in the shadow of an anti-Lutherian backlash. Well written and with copious notes and references for the researcher, this is a highly recommended read.

Kevin J Kilburn FRAS. Secretary, the Society for the History of Astronomy
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Milo di Thernan on 11 April 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Given the helicopter perspective provided by most histories of the period, it is difficult to find much intimate history of inland Europe in the early 16th century, which enhances the value of human detail that fills this book. Attention is paid to the individuals amongst whom Copernicus moved, allowing their rapport with him to furnish you with a sense of what the man was like and the kind of political habitat that surrounded him. Since it is short and written in a fresh style - with short sentences, a natural biographical flow and no complicated technical demands made of the reader - I would argue that everyone who has used Copernicus as a search term in Amazon will enjoy it. I can't remember finishing a book so quickly.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Edward Hubbard on 8 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is written by Jack Repcheck, who is described on the inside cover as an editor at WW Norton & Co. I am wary of non-historians writing history books, but this one did appear at first glance to be well-researched. It is full of information about the political, religious and intellectual backgrounds to Copernicus' work.

But then I came across this on page 85: "Dantiscus became the official ambassador of the King of Poland to the Holy Roman Emperors Maximilian I and Charles V, and to the court of the King of Spain, Charles I". Unbelievably, Repcheck doesn't know that the Emperor Charles V and the Spanish King Charles I were one and the same person. This is not a trivial error. It is a level of historical ignorance on a par with someone writing a history of international politics in the early twentieth century without being aware that India and Britain had the same government.

If Repcheck is so ignorant of the basic facts of sixteenth-century history, how can I have any confidence in the veracity of any of the historical material in this book? I can't, of course. He has done his research, but that is not good enough because he doesn't have the background knowledge that would enable him to assess his research properly.

Unfortunately, professional historians seem reluctant to produce popular history books so the history shelves of most bookshops are filled with the outpourings of enthusiastic amateurs whom readers cannot have full confidence in.
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