Sometimes you have a book that you read over and over again, just for the pleasure. The Sleepwalkers falls into this category for me ! I got this book more than 30 years ago, and have read it many times. Not so long ago I was stupid enough to lend it to someone. It is now time to read it again, for I need to satisfy my soul with stories of great discoveries. So I will have to buy the book once more, and this time it stays on my bookshelf !
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.