God's Philosophers and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
Trade in your item
Get a £0.25
Gift Card.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science Paperback – 6 Aug 2009


See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Paperback, 6 Aug 2009
£14.24 £1.66



Trade In this Item for up to £0.25
Trade in God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science for an Amazon Gift Card of up to £0.25, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Product details

  • Paperback: 435 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd; 1st edition (6 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848310706
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848310704
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 16 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 540,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Hannam took a Physics degree at Oxford before training as an accountant. He enjoyed a successful career in the City, mainly financing film production, but harboured ambitions to write about the history of science. In 2001, he started a part time MA at Birkbeck College, London in Historical Research. The experience only served to further whet his appetite for the subject. In 2003, he was accepted at Cambridge to read a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science. His thesis on the decline of medieval learning during the sixteenth century was completed in 2008. In the meantime, he also worked on his book for the general reader, "God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundation of Modern Science" which was published by Icon in 2009. It was shortlisted for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books in 2010. James has also written for various magazines and newspapers including the Spectator, History Today, Standpoint and New Scientist.

Product Description

Review

[A] spirited jaunt through centuries of scientific development... captures the wonder of the medieval world: its inspirational curiosity and its engaging strangeness. --Sunday Times, August 16, 2009

This book contains much valuable material summarised with commendable no-nonsense clarity... James Hannam has done a fine job of knocking down an old caricature. --Sunday Telegraph, August 30, 2009

A very useful general survey of a difficult topic, and a robust defence of an unfairly maligned age. --The Spectator, August 12, 2009

The book can be highly recommended as the very best kind of popular history. --Chemistry World, December 2009

Hannam, the liveliest of guides, makes enjoyable reading out of some seriously dusty history and difficult ideas.
--The Scotsman, August 2009

About the Author

James Hannam is a graduate of both Oxford and Cambridge where he studied physics and then gained a PhD in the history of science. He lives in Kent with his wife and two children. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Peter Davies TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Nov 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent discovery. Thanks to previous reviewers on here who recommended it. Having just read it, is my turn to recommend it now.

There are several reasons to recommend this book. Firstly it is a good historical drama with a rich cast of interesting characters and contexts. The author is a good narrator and takes us through the stories briskly and thoroughly. He gives enough detail to make the point, and if you need further evidence there is a useful reference list as well.

Secondly this book is good at separating the events that happened during the middle ages from the myths and pejorative labels that have been attached to the middle ages by later observers for their own purposes. This book shows that there were never many believers in a flat earth. This book shows that the Christian milieu provided a fertile growing ground for science and was not opposed to science. Conflicts between a literal reading of the bible and science were resolved sensibly and quickly.

The people living in the middle ages did not know they were in the middle of anything. They were humans with their own strengths and weaknesses trying to make sense of the world they found themselves in. They struggled with this as well as they could do and made huge intellectual and technological progress, which we in turn have built on. This book is a glorious story of people and how they used knowledge to better their understanding of the world. It is a glorious example of a historian writing to explore and understand how the world appeared to his subjects, rather than to impose his modern views on a past people.

This book increases our respect for the great medieval scholars and their work, and its role in helping us to get to where we are now. It is a great rehabilitation exercise on an often unjustly mocked period of history. I can recommend it highly to other readers.
6 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Smith on 29 Mar 2010
Format: Paperback
What did the Middle Ages ever do for us--for science in particular? Not a lot, I hear you say? The Greeks laid the foundations, and then, after the fall of Rome, a great darkness descended on the intellectual world for about a thousand years. During this time no major advances were made, and any attempts to make progress were swiftly suppressed by the dominant ecclesiastical establishment. Then, finally, the light began to dawn, the classics were rediscovered, reason broke free from tradition, and the modern era was born.

Right?

Not at all, says James Hannam in his recent and highly accessible book (with a wealth of highly inaccessible contemporary scholarship to back him up). God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science (Icon Books, 2009) seeks to do away with the simplistic and inaccurate view the most people (myself included) have tended to have concerning intellectual achievements of the Middle Ages.

But how could such a misrepresentation arise? Quite easily, in fact. History can easily been rewritten, or re-spun, to give the impression that all that went before was insignificant ("Middle Ages") and repressive ("Dark Ages"), but that now we have life ("Renaissance"), light ("Enlightenment"), progress ("Modern") and real transformation ("Reformation" and "revolution", even "scientific revolution"). Anyone with an axe to grind against their predecessors will soon pile in to reinforce the stereotypes.

So what did these "Middle Ages" do for modern science? The rest of the book takes us on a remarkably enjoyable whistle-stop tour of the period to find out, as we meet one "giant" after another.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Sep 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The notion that the Middle Ages were an era of superstition, ignorance and of religious dogma preventing scientific development is without doubt incorrect, and largely down to a number of writers from the Victorian period onwards who were vehemently hostile to religion, painting a very biased picture of the past. On the contrary, it was a period of great scientific advancement. The church was in no way against this; by delimiting what could be established by religion, the church effectively ring fenced a vast area of intellectual development which could be addressed by science and philosophy without interference.

Even going beyond such boundaries, going "against" the church's doctrine would not in itself rouse its ire so long as such science was regarded as purely speculative rather than asserted to be true. And unlike the popular perception, heretics were treated relatively gently and given plenty of opportunity to return to orthodoxy without suffering any consequences. It took a rather bloody-minded type to repeatedly provoke the church to go as far as to hand over such to the secular authorities for burning.

Nor was the Renaissance quite the awakening we have been led to believe. As Hannam notes, "The desire to look back to Greece and Rome was the true mark of the Renaissance, which in many ways was a conservative movement attempting to recapture an imaginary past rather than march forward. It was a time when, in order to be up to date in writing or architecture, artists had to model their work on a prototype that was over 1,000 years old.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews



Feedback