- Paperback: 592 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics (7 Aug. 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141394536
- ISBN-13: 978-0141394534
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 7 Aug 2014
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The Sleepwalkers is a valuable and provocative book . . . a work with a noble aim (Sunday Times)
The greatest part of this massive work is a close and valuable study of Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo . . . He writes tensely, with passion, as though personally involved, about events that took place more than 300 years ago (The Times)
About the Author
Arthur Koestler (1905-1983) was an extraordinary polymath, writer and political polemicist. His most famous works include the novels Darkness at Noon and Arrival and Departure, his autobiographical writings, including Spanish Testament and Scum of the Earth, and his visionary non-fiction, including The Ghost in the Machine, The Case of the Midwife Toad and The Sleepwalkers.
John Gray has been Professor of Politics at Oxford University, Visiting Professor at Harvard and Yale and Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics. He now writes full time. His books include False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, The Immortalization Commission: The Strange Quest to Cheat Death and, most recently, a sequel to Straw Dogs, The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths. His selected writings, Gray's Anatomy, was published in 2009.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is easy for us to believe that the Earth goes around the Sun. We accept it just as our children accept mobile telephones, without questions. Koestler tells the story of the men who discovered how the Solar System works. From a flat earth with the devil at the horizon, to the planets spinning eliptically around the Sun, Koestler puts us in the context, so we can understand how a handful of great thinkers shook the foundations of science (and religion), and how they sometimes risked their career or even their life in order to uphold their "heretical" proposals.
You would think that Koestler was in the room at the time of the happening. He is one of those story tellers that builds climate, background, declines the personalities of his actors, and then tells a damned fine story. You find yourself holding your breath as each chapter unfolds, almost as if it is by chance that these great scientists (Galileo, Kepler, etc.) discover the truth. Happily, all the stories finish well, and we can breathe a sigh of relief when we reach the last page.
The cosmos as we know it today can continue to exist, and by chance, Koestler was there to tell us the whole story.
On the latter point, I couldn't help feeling that he rather underplays the impact of economic development on intellectual development. Every so often it almost peeps through -- the telescopes that were made by spectacle-makers rather than astronomers or scientists, for example. And who was it that was so keep on getting better astronomical tables? Navigators rather than astrologers, I suspect. And those instruments that the astronomers used? Who designed and built them, and for what?
On a similar theme, why not at least a passing comment on the contrast between what the academics were teaching and what craftsmen and engineers must have understood to do their jobs - they couldn't have been applying Aristotelean physics, could they?
Still, this is a great book, and I thoroughly agree that every sixth-former (especially science students) should have to read it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A detailed history highlighting that political correctness is not a recent thing. But now in normal society they do not incarcerate you!Published 7 months ago by I. Harry
A historical account of the rise of astronomy, written from a very human perspective. You will probably enjoy hearing about what some of the characters well-known from textbooks,... Read morePublished 9 months ago by quakeyjase
Arthur Koestler takes us through the history of scientific discovery, history that reads like a novel. What a pity this book is out of print!Published on 10 July 2013 by Marie-Anne Pilot
This is one of the seminal pop-sci history books of the late 20th C. A needed addition to any thinker's library, even if one has some disagreement with Koestler's conclusions --... Read morePublished on 8 Jun. 2013 by pgm3
WEll its not often that I can find myself hoping for more after reading a long dense history of a bunch of astronomers! Read morePublished on 9 May 2013 by Chess Quant
Called the 'the indispensable intellectual' by his biographer, prof. Michael Scammell, and frequently described as a polymath, I have to confess that, for myself, I only know... Read morePublished on 4 Mar. 2013 by Sebastian Palmer
Following a recent visit to Prague I wished to learn more about the astronomers Brahe and Kepler and this book provided the details of their lives and work and much more besides.Published on 28 Feb. 2013 by Anne Henderson