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Galileo: Heretic Paperback – September 21, 1989
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The book is easily put aside. Hundreds of figures over centuries who contributed to the events culminating in the trial enter and leave the pages of the book as players on the stage of a drama. The players, both important and relatively minor, do not play their parts in chronological order in this book. It is difficult to find a thread of thought or story which holds one's attention. In the end, the final events causing the trial of Galileo are not complex or lengthy. The actual causes and culmination of the trial are few and easily conveyed. The book does give the reader a thorough knowledge of a vast, detailed, historical setting for the drama.
Anyone who wants to read a heroic account of the victory of the forces of knowledge and experimental science (i.e. personified by Galileo) over those of ignorance (i.e. biblically inspired geocentricism) had better look elsewhere. On the other hand, anyone who wants to read a far more interesting (and believable) story which reveals much more about both religion and science than does the traditional Galilean myth will find this book fascinating.
All those who read "The Name of the Rose" and "Foucault's Pendulum" are also advised to read this (especially if they found Eco a bit weak on historical background from time to time).