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The Secrets of the Vaulted Sky: Astrology and the Art of Prediction Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 13, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0151005273
  • ASIN: B0009YAX9A
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,980,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Spanning the development of astrology from Sumerian origins to Nazi court astrologers, Berlinski's ruminative but shallow history seeks to rescue it from what he sees as the misconceived derision of modern science. The author of A Tour of the Calculus remains coyly agnostic about astrology's validity. He calls it a "finely geared tool for the resolution of practical problems" and cites many successful predictions and a statistical study supposedly verifying the "Mars effect" on athletic talent, but when faced with the incoherent, metaphorical techniques by which astrologers interpret their charts, he can only shrug that since smart people used to listen to astrologers, there must be something to it. If not rational, Berlinski argues that astrology is at least "rationalistic," in that "the peculiar nature of astrological thought has returned in all the sciences, in disguised form." Unfortunately, this provocative point is made through facile comparisons-medieval notions of heavenly "influences" anticipate Newtonian mechanics, electromagnetism and sociobiology, for example, while 15th-century medical astrological charts are "the forerunner of such diagnostic devices as CAT scans"-that illuminate neither ancient nor modern thought. Physicists will object to Berlinski's contention that they account for "action at a distance" no better than astrologers do, while philosophers will blanch at his superficial take on the conundrums of causality and determinism. No more edifying are the self-consciously literary vignettes (the dying Copernicus "took his breath in long, slow, wet, ragged gasps, a bubble of pale phlegm forming on his lips") with which Berlinski "humanizes" this intellectual history. Readers looking for real intellectual meat behind the author's ostentatious erudition and metaphysical pseudo-profundities will go hungry.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Few Americans realized during the 1980s how much the resident of the White House resembled emperors of ancient Babylon and Rome: like them, President Reagan consulted astrologers. A gifted science writer, Berlinski not only links personalities (the Great Communicator waves at Berossos of the Chaldeas) but also interweaves grand themes: science melds with religion, and metaphysics fuses with politics in a narrative of surpassing color and drama. Though Berlinski approaches his topic with intelligent skepticism, he acknowledges the creative ingenuity and even the scientific acumen of many of its founders. He also expresses deep empathy for the credulous humans who have spun astrological meanings out of their own yearnings for some way of seeing into the turbulent future, some way of glimpsing cosmic significance in the hurly-burly of everyday life. And with piquant episodes culled from millennia of material, Berlinski gives astrology hauntingly human faces: a shrewd soothsayer confronts a cruel tyrant with a laconic--and accurate--prophecy of how they both shall die; an imprisoned astrologer unnerves a Nazi leader with uncanny predictions about the fuhrer's death. Berlinski acknowledges that modern science has driven astrology into society's subterranean margins, yet he mischievously exposes the stubborn persistence in physics and sociobiology of the same magical thinking that once pervaded astrology. Berlinski gives readers good reason to relish this irreverent foray into an exotic if dubious art. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Magickal Merlin on September 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book should not be dismissed as trite information on historical divination.Many people have either mocked astrology or were spellbound by it ,through the ages.Yet,the interest in predictions based on astrological events has never waned and flourishes currently.And maybe its more popular today,thanks to our freedom of the press and the cyber-space facts at our fingertips.For a small book,concerning such a vast topic like astrology,it's packed with interesting stories about the night-stars and its impact on our global cultural history.The validity of star-observations and its potential meanings have always been argued over the years.Yet,no one can dispute the affect that the influence of the celestrial stars and planets have had on our human deciding actions ,through the centuries and foreseeably beyond tomorrow.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John J. Wright on June 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book is VERY misleading. It claims to tell of the art of prediction. There is really no info at all on how the ancients came up with there predictions. Or any info on how you yourself can use astrology. Instead it is history of certain societies who did employ astrologers in there courts. Well it is pretty much fact that the ancients did use Astrology so where are the SECRETS? There was really no work done at all on what predictions these ancients made and if they ever did come to pass. I think the title and sub title are very misleading. This book was presented as more of a occult book but is a bland history. He gets 3 stars simply becouse his history is accurate IMO not for enjoyabilty. Stay away if you are looking for occult science.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By angels1111 on December 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Fascinating and mind stimulating food for thought. Enjoyed the adventures throughout the pages. A way of understading the sciences of the skies. Very interesting as you read between the lines and learn of how much the stars created our history throughout our world from those that studied the starry starry nights.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard W. Roscoe on December 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Hoped that this would be a history of Astrology and why people believed in it. Berlinski writes "all over the place", jumping from one idea to the next. He sort of was getting to some good history but I just ran out of patience. My feeling is, he writes for himself and not for his readers.
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Format: Hardcover
It took me a little while to see where the author was going, but it was well worth the trip. Not just a survey of the history of astrology, but a very thought provoking examination of the nature of reality itself. This is scholarly, intelligent work, not the new aged mumbo jumbo I was afraid it might be. A must read for those who enjoy thinkng deep thoughts about the nature of reality.
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