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The Crime of Galileo Paperback – June 15, 1978

ISBN-13: 978-0226734811 ISBN-10: 0226734811 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Series: Midway Reprint Ser
  • Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (June 15, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226734811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226734811
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,212,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 59 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
A great book! It appears that Galileo is not the perfect icon, after all, for atheistic, modern day academia. The book shows how academia itself, with complete indifference for truth, erupted against Galileo in an effort to protect cherished allegiances to long held Aristotelian philosophies and misguided ideas. It demonstrates how academia was primarily responsible for the inquisitions and suppressions filed against Galileo, and how they used rhetoric and demagoguery to incite church authorities to become involved. "Those he feared," according to the author, "were the professors," not ecclesiastical authorities (p 8). And "like Galileo, Copernicus had foreseen resistance not at all from the Church authorities but from vested academic interests"(p 16). "It was not ... religious convictions that stood in the way but simply ... Aristotelian conditioning and ... fear of scandal" (p 104). The author supports his case with a thorough and chronological review of the letters and legal records of the time.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Nick on June 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
If you're just looking for a casual read then perhaps Dava Sobel's 'Galileo's Daughter' or Arthur Koestler's 'The Sleepwalkers' would be more entertaining. But this is where Koestler gets most of his information so why not go straight to the source?
Giorgio de Santillana is obviously a terrific Galileo scholar, making reference to original documents held in the Vatican and other worthwhile resources which put this book on the forefront of academic debate (despite its age).
Santillana's line, that the inquisition was moved to action by Aristotelians (many of whom were Dominicans or Jesuits), though not universally accepted, is well argued. The fact that Pope Urban VIII had been one of Galileo's closest supporters and even opposed the censoring of Copernicus when he was Cardinal Maffeo Barberini makes Santillana's the most plausible explanation. To argue that all the church authorities were adamantly opposed to the Copernican cosmology is to ignore this fact. Though one must also allow for the petulant character of Urban who did not like having his instrumentalist views put into the mouth of a simpleton. These are the two factors which conspired to have Galileo tried for heresy and not simply the scriptural objections.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Bourqui on February 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
Giorgio di Santillana was Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) when this book was written in December 1953.

This is an in-depth, scholarly study. Something of a master artist with words, Di Santillana brings his characters vividly to life, and follows the machinations of Galileo's enemies with the keen instinct of a political scientist. His view is that "both the authorities and the scientist had the mutual impression of being ambushed, and in neither case was it true. The ambush, in so far as there was one, had been carefully laid by third parties, who carefully exploited the critical situation of the times."

In the previous half-century, following the Reformation, the Catholic church had set up the Roman inquisition and the Index of banned books to prevent "innovators" from putting forward new interpretations of scripture, as the Protestant reformers had done. Against this background, Galileo asserted that certain biblical passages, including those apparently denying that the earth moved, should be understood "figuratively".

There are about 220 footnotes, some lengthy and extended, and containing fascinating and little-known material. The narrative also uses many direct quotations, so that these 17th-century figures - articulate, expansive, often extremely considered and thoughtful - speak to us in their own words. Only 3 pages are given to the first 46 years of Galileo's life, so that effectively the book starts in 1610, when Galileo's telescopic discoveries had suddenly brought him to public prominence. One of the 16 chapters is devoted to Roberto Bellarmine, the cardinal who in 1616 laid on Galileo the "command" not to hold or defend the heliocentric theory.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Shelton on June 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author has carefully reviewed the original primary sources for the events that took place. The author painstakingly pieced together the relevant documentry evidence to produce and account of what actually happened rather than supporting one or the other side. This was very refreshing. Unfortunately, the author makes reading difficult by being verbose, using long confusing sentences and often quoting in foreign languages with out putting in a translation. Getting through the book was definately difficult, but the quality of the research made the effort worthwhile. Often an author doesn't have time to do everything necessary for a great book and must make choices of what to concentrate on. I am very glad this author's choice came down on the side of telling the story as accurately as possible.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ivan D. Alexander on May 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
In 1616 Galileo got the necessary imprimatur for his publication of the famous "Dialogue" from the Roman Catholic Church, with Pope Urban VIII's approval. The Church was shying away from burning heretics, as happened to Giordano Bruno only 16 years earlier in Rome's Campo dei Fiori, whose crime of heresy was punished severely (he said the universe is infinite with no edge and every point its center, among other things Copernican), so Urban agreed that in principle Copernican ideas could be entertained, along with mathematics, as 'speculations' not to contradict Scripture. The Scholars of the time were uncomfortable with this, in addition to which there was scholastic-political contest going between the Jesuits and Dominicans, and 16 years after publishing the Dialogue, Galileo was summoned by the Holy Inquisition to Rome. By then he was already an old man approaching 70, well respected socially; the trip was a great hardship on his frail health, but he did go and answer the call. He really had no choice, and though supported by some members of high social and academic standing who believed he was in the clear, there was an element of dread to this journey. The rest of it is exceptionally fascinating reading, well researched with only a few pieces missing, or guessed at, to bring to completion Galileo's trial and sentencing. I found the book riveting to the end and languished on the last few pages for the joy of reading it. Though de Santillana wrote this book more than half a century ago, it is timely for our day when once again religious dogmas, some of which had been dormant since the Enlightenment, are re-surfacing to challenge the reason of Science, including Sharia sympathizers. The 'trial' appears not yet over.
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