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Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love Paperback – November 1, 2000
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"Innovative history and a wonderfully told tale."—Newsweek.
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The letters are part of the book but they are not part of the story. Galileo's life was a balance of faith and experimentation, of admiration and jealousy. Dava Sobel makes no grand connection between the role of his daughter and his great frustrations and successes. The letters do suggest the smothering presence of the Catholic Church that would enable an Inquisition I find hardly more tolerable than what can be found in Japan in the recent movie "Silence," set in the exact same time frame of the 1630s.
Galileo refutes Aristotle and Ptolemy through the dialogue of 3 representatives in his banned book, one of them representing Copernicus: Dialogue of the Two World Systems. His "Two New Sciences" is not about the earth's rotation but a later work about motion. Any academic seeking encouragement for success late in life can cite Galileo, who published 20 years after Shakespeare's death although the two were born the same year, the year of Michelangelo's death. Any scientist seeking encouragement for success can cite Galileo, whose methods of experimentation show mostly a motivated layman disgusted by idle hands. As a matter of fact, just about any person who has been wrongly persecuted, underpaid, nagged, or underestimated can just look at this model for help. His example is a lot more specific than Job's.
The stories about the plague are of great interest. Page 204 has a ghastly illustration. Andreas Vesalius is included in the book not only for medical context but for his similar improvements upon Aristotle's conclusions regarding the heart as the "origin of the nerves".
This book contains so much information on Galileo, his work, and daily life during the time. The way Sobel weaves in the daughter's letters is amazing. She brings in the church and convent life. Of course, the church plays a big role as Galileo ages.
I love this book. It was well worth reading a second time. Sobel is a great writer and has the ability to give us the love between father and daughter.
This book is doubly wonderful if you've visited Florence, Tuscany, Venice or Rome. Those areas play a big role in the book. If you have an interest in science then the book is even richer. Love it!!