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The Professor of Secrets: Mystery, Medicine, and Alchemy in Renaissance Italy [Kindle Edition]

William Eamon
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In the tradition of Galileo's Daughter and Brunelleschi's Dome, this exciting story illuminates the captivating world of the late Renaissance—in this case its plagues, remedies, and alchemy—through the life of Leonardo Fioravanti, a brilliant, remarkably forward-thinking, and utterly unconventional doctor. Fioravanti's marvelous cures and talent for self-aggrandizement earned him the adoration of the people, the scorn of the medical establishment, and a reputation as one of the age's most colorful, combative figures. Written by Pulitzer-prize nominated historian William Eamon, The Professor of Secrets entices readers into a dangerous scientific underworld of sorcerers and surgeons. Meticulously researched and engagingly written, this gripping narrative will appeal to those interested in Renaissance history, the development of science, and the historical thrillers so popular today.

Editorial Reviews


“The author presents what medicine was like during the Renaissance with a wealth of unexpected details…and a light, accessible touch…that makes this book welcome reading not only for the summer but for any time of year.” —Los Angeles Times

About the Author

William Eamon is a widely published, internationally known and respected scholar based at New Mexico State University. His first book, Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in the Medieval and Early Modern Culture was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in history and won the History Book Award from the Association of American Publishers. He is co-editor of the excellently reviewed Beyond the Black Legend: Spain and the Scientific Revolution.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1249 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; 1 edition (July 20, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036S4C7K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #841,071 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and spellbinding !! July 23, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Imagine this: you are sitting in a hall together with many other people anxiously waiting for the show to start. All of you have paid an entry fee. At one end of the hall stage there is one famous doctor,and at the other end stands another doctor. Both physicians have different views about many medical issues. Then,when everything is ready,three cadavers are introduced to the audience. The bodies belong to criminals who were convicted either of murder or theft.
The show is about to begin. Here another doctor shows up,and he will perform an anatomical dissection live. He asks the audience to be quiet and all the jokes and chats stop.
This kind of thing actually took place in Italy during the sixteenth century,when Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius arrived in Bolognia to perform a series of anatomical demonstrations. Among those who attended one such show was Leonardo Fioravanti,23 years old and the subject of this fascinating volume. He was disgusted by what he saw,and the whole affair reminded him of a butcher's shop. He concluded that doctors might know a lot about the various body organs,but when it comes to knowing the reasons for so many diseases,their knowledge is almost nil.
The times were hard: devastating plagues were rampant,corsairs were abundant prowling the Mediterranean Sea,violence was everywhere in Italy,murders were committed en masse in Rome,and barbers bled their patients along with giving them a shave.
Fioravanti believed,like many others,that it was the duty of the doctor to find a miracle cure for each disease. He asserted that all diseases stem from one ot two causes: either the bad quality and indisposition of the stomach,or "the alteration and putrefaction of the blood".
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4.0 out of 5 stars Reads almost like a novel September 2, 2014
By Jack W.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very interesting read, sheds light on Italian culture and politics during the same period as Henry VIII and Elizabeth I in England. The main theme of the book is to follow the path of the physician and surgeon, Leonardo Fioravanti who continued to learn many differing approaches to scientific knowledge and progress in the efficacy of medical practices of the period. He was accomplished in many fields while at the same time was an unabashed showman and self-promoter. Reads almost like a novel, very entertaining.
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9 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So so book September 6, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was expecting a much more cohesive view of Medieval practices along this line and was really not impressed here. The focus is on one person who made the rounds in Europe and was an impressive (for that time) "doctor", but there seems to be a lot of glorification for this fellow that his deeds did not really deserve. Contrast this with Enguerrand VII, Lord of Coucy, the subject of Barbara Tuchman's excellent book (I've read it 3 times). Coucy too was there it seems at a pivotal period of time in Europe during the Middle Ages. He was involved in all the important battles and diplomatic schemes and his legacy spoke for itself. The "Professor of Science" is no Coucy, to quote Benson on Quayle. In short, the book is just not as wide-ranging a dive and flight into/over the expanse of those times. Perhaps I was looking for too much here.
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More About the Author

WILLIAM EAMON is Regents Professor of History and dean of the Honors College at New Mexico State University. A specialist in the history of science and medicine in Renaissance Italy and Spain, he is the author of "Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture," which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and was the winner of the History Book Award from the American Association of Publishers. He is also co-editor of "Beyond the Black Legend: Spain and the Scienti!c Revolution". His most recent book, "The Professor of Secrets: Mystery, Medicine and Alchemy in Renaissance Italy, has just been published. In addition, he has written more than 50 scholarly articles, essays, and book chapters.

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