Read The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus by Owen Gingerich Online


After three decades of investigation, and after traveling hundreds of thousands of miles across the globe-from Melbourne to Moscow, Boston to Beijing-Gingerich has written an utterly original book built on his experience and the remarkable insights gleaned from examining some 600 copies of "De revolutionibus." He found the books owned and annotated by Galileo, Kepler and mAfter three decades of investigation, and after traveling hundreds of thousands of miles across the globe-from Melbourne to Moscow, Boston to Beijing-Gingerich has written an utterly original book built on his experience and the remarkable insights gleaned from examining some 600 copies of "De revolutionibus." He found the books owned and annotated by Galileo, Kepler and many other lesser-known astronomers whom he brings back to life, which illuminate the long, reluctant process of accepting the Sun-centered cosmos and highlight the historic tensions between science and the Catholic Church. He traced the ownership of individual copies through the hands of saints, heretics, scalawags, and bibliomaniacs. He was called as the expert witness in the theft of one copy, witnessed the dramatic auction of another, and proves conclusively that "De revolutionibus" was as inspirational as it was revolutionary. Part biography of a book, part scientific exploration, part bibliographic detective story, "The Book Nobody Read" recolors the history of cosmology and offers new appreciation of the enduring power of an extraordinary book and its ideas....

Title : The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780143034766
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 265 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus Reviews

  • Poo1987 Roykaew
    2019-04-26 03:35

    This is a triumph of hard work. A vivid, hilarious, elaborated, considerably jargon-free and, above all, humourous book accessible to everyone. The author shows a great deal of his care in details and his effort as an investigator to investigate and reveal the hidden facts of little-known life of one of the greatest astronomors of all time, and of the prominent book recognized as the one that changes the world forever, but once seen as the book nobody read. From USA to Russia, Italy to Scotland, the author's journey would lead him to discover the amazing almost-around-the-world travelling of the copies almost of the leading scientists and astronomers in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries never lost their chances to read and to possess, and also the twofold features of our intellectual route, whether it was a bright or dark side, or under the pleasant or horrifying condition, that frame and give the characteristic of our intellectual activities today.

  • Katie
    2019-05-05 23:16

    This is a weird book to categorize: it's half exploration of the early impact of Copernicus's groundbreaking but extremely complex De revolutionibus and half academic memoir. Gingerich recounts his globetrotting adventures to track down all first and second editions of Copernicus's illustrious work, which takes him from North America to Europe to Asia, armed with a travel budget most scholars only dream of.It's a fun story, overall. The parts about Copernicus were the most interesting from my end, and Gingerich does a nice job disproving his own title. People absolutely did read Copernicus's work, and commented on it rather profusely. When Gingerich takes a look at what people said about it, and what aspects drew their interest, the book is probably at its best.What you think about the rest of it is going to depend pretty heavily on how intrigued or put off you are by academic and academic culture. There are quite a few fun little manuscript treasure hunts throughout that should be tons of fun for bibliophiles out there. But there is also quite a bit on academic conferences, academic rivalries, and a tone that constantly threatens to tip over from charming to smug. It usually doesn't though. And when it does, hey - if this guy trekked around the world and looked at enough copies of Copernicus to get called in as a star witness in international book theft trials, then maybe he's earned it.

  • Theresa
    2019-04-29 01:18

    Most of us modern folks who think we've read De Revolutionibus (in translation) haven't really read the work at all. We've only read the opening theory and not the dense calculations and tables that make up the bulk of the book, which require a specialist's knowledge and in any case are 500 years out of date. Arthur Koestler made the claim that nobody probably read the book back when it was published, either. This notion piqued Astronomy professor Owen Gingrich's interest, and so Gingrich embarked on a multi-decade, world-hopping journey to survey every known copy he could of the 1st and 2nd editions of Copernicus's work. Working scientists often annotate and leave marginal notes. His theory was that anyone who bothered to seriously read the work would write in it. His tour of volumes and their marginalia is a fascinating look into the world of working Renaissance scientists, philosophers, students, and wealthy dilettantes. Along the way we learn about church censorship, Renaissance publishing procedures, snippets of biographies of once famous but now obscure people, bits of Copernican, Galilean and Keplerian theory, and the world of rare books with all of its greed, graft, forgery and intrigue.It's dense reading, but if you're interested in the History of Astronomy or are a lover of old books, I highly recommend it. Trigger warning: I did cry when I learned that the Pulkovo Observatory library lost many Renaissance books to deliberate arson. :(

  • Elizabeth
    2019-05-07 19:24

    Delightful essays..... especially the title essay for book lovers. Some others a bit harder to read unless you are very interested. However, he is a delightful author.

  • Jen
    2019-05-19 00:21

    After two renewals at the library, I still never got around to reading this book. All I can say is that the title could not be more appropriate.

  • Don
    2019-05-17 00:42

    Read like a detective novel. Excellent dig!

  • Nathan Albright
    2019-05-07 21:30

    The author takes as his title for book a reference from novelist Arthur Koestler [1], who thought that the masterpiece by Copernicus was a worst seller that no one read.  The author, apparently, spent decades proving this was not the case.  This book is the sort of treasure hunt that is most of interest to fellow book nerds, but if you like somewhat obsessive looks at massively important books with strong concerns about book theft and the way that people can make a book interesting by adding their own notes to it [1], this is a really interesting book.  I really enjoyed reading this book and thought that the author's work as a whole is something worth paying attention to.  It was something I found myself very able to relate to, although I'm not sure if it says anything bad about me that I could see myself engaged in a quest lasting for decades to determine all that people wrote in the margins of a book as well as all of the people who could be determined to have owned a book.  At any rate, I was able to relate to it and found a worthwhile book.This particular book takes around 250 pages to cover a decades long quest by the author to attempt to catalog the provenance and contents and marginalia of every single possible first and second edition of Copernicus' De revolutionibus that he can find, as well as related works that help to uncover the context of sixteenth and seventeenth century astronomy and related subjects as diverse as medicine and astrology.  The quest leads him to book auctions, through libraries and private collections, around Europe and the United States and even a few more distant places, to trade the path of a famous book that helped launch a revolution in science.  This trail is a bit rambling and disorganized but it is also fascinating, involving compromise scientific plans like that of Tycho Brahe, rebellious German mathematicians and an invisible college of connected European scholars and thinkers connected outside of formal institutional positions.  The book manages to involve a great deal of famous and near-famous figures from Galileo to Kepler to Mercator to John Dee and even Scottish economist Adam Smith.  Included in this are discussions of book binding processes and even a discussion of the fascinating link between medieval Muslim astronomy and the insights of Copernicus.It is clear before one gets too far into this book that Copernicus' masterpiece was a book that is not only viewed highly by contemporary scientists and historians and philosophers of science but that it was also a book that a great many of early modern Europe's greatest minds actually read somewhat seriously and reflected on and it was embedded in concerns about aesthetic preferences and physical reality as well as a period in which astrologers, strange as it may seem to us, were a critical part of the early efforts at better calculating the path of the planets.  Although a great deal of this book rambles between many odd stories, these stories demonstrate the way that science comes alive through the relationships and studies and investigations of human beings who remain human even when they happen to be really great scientists.  The author too shows himself to be a person of great interest in a wide variety of subjects and manages to come off as humane and delightfully quirky.  In its odd wandering and its tale about historians and philosophers and scientists, this is a book that is an odd book for odd people.  It ought to be little wonder that such a book is enjoyable to me.[1] See, for example:[2] See, for example:

  • Pmslax
    2019-05-20 00:24

    Joan and I heard the author at the Newberry Library in Chicago then bought his book. He autographed it. I read it. Sold it in the move to 507.

  • Chelsea
    2019-04-22 22:25

    I was assigned this book in a class on the Protestant Reformation. Somehow I think the title is going to be oddly prophetic for a majority of students in the class. XDBut that's not a knock on the book itself. I actually found it to be quite interesting, although I think it probably has something of a niche audience. It's an incredibly detailed account of the author, Owen Gingerich, and his quest to compile a list of every known first or second edition of Nicolaus Copernicus' On The Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres, the first book to suggest that the Earth revolved around the sun. Apparently, previous historians had proposed that no one ~actually read Copernicus' book when it was first released, although it is now considered a groundbreaking landmark in scientific history. Gingerich sought to disprove that claim by discovering WHO exactly had read the book by going over annotations and provenances for each copy of the book he could find. The Book Nobody Read, then, serves as a history of not only Copernicus' research but the history of the book itself. Gingerich goes into fascinating detail about sixteenth century publishing practices, astrology's influence on astronomy, and the various annotation traditions that reappeared in different copies of the famous book. It's also a very detailed account of Gingerich's own thirty-year research project, in which he attempted to trace the way Copernicus influenced other leading astronomers of the era, and how he was able to use his notes to track down stolen or missing copies. At times, the book can seem a bit tedious, especially in the sections about Gingerich's own research, but for anyone intrigued by the process, it does make for interesting reading. At times it reads like a detective story, with Gingerich struggling to compare handwriting samples from unidentified annotations in order to discover who actually owned and read Copernicus' book. It's not exactly the most readable book ever; like I said, I think it would probably mainly interest people who already know quite a bit about Copernicus, but for anyone interested in history, it's a book FILLED with minutiae that offers a really wide, complex view of sixteenth century astronomy and the people who studied it. Very interesting indeed.

  • Cassandra Kay Silva
    2019-05-10 21:41

    This was stupid. I was hoping to read more about Copernicus and his work. I was excited because I knew some original manuscript copies were included. Of course you can't see these copies well and the author doesn't tell you the text provided by all these famous men who read this work either. I think this book could have been good if he had made a historical study of it all and provided the original text and the works notes as a final product. Perhaps others are not interested in this information but I think it would be fascinating especially if the author could have provided commentary and walked you through it. But all you get is a story about the authors chasing first and second editions around the world. It wasn't even written well (a good example of how this could have been done better would be "The billionaires vinegar") On top of that the small fragments that were about Copernicus (granted there is not much out there to draw from) were poorly presented. I think I would have rather read De revolutionibus itself. I would not have understood a good deal of it but I gather it would have been not only a better read from an intellectual standpoint but I wonder if it also would not have been better from an authorship standpoint as well. That's how very underwhelming I felt this book was especially given the topic.

  • Jerzy
    2019-05-01 02:34

    There were a few excellent sections on the ways in which Copernicus' De Revolutionibus was accepted, understood, interpreted, etc. by astronomers and the Church. I wish those chapters were organized and tied together in a more cohesive way, so that someone interested in understanding the context and effects of Copernicus' book could just read those sections.Unfortunately, much of the rest of the book is a set of unconnected anecdotes about the author's search for copies of De Revolutionibus. Some of them are interesting, but in many ways they detract from the history-of-astronomy aspects. (Conversely, people who read this book because they love tracking down old books will probably find the astronomy distracting.)

  • Ross
    2019-04-26 21:16

    Another disappointment. I got this book looking for a scientific explanation about how, in detail, Copernicus figured out that the sun is the center of the solar system. This book turned out to be about the author's 40 year 300,000 mile quest to find and examine all of the extant editions of de Revolutionibus" to see who owned them and what they entered as margin notes and annotations. He found 276 of them. Parts of the book are mildly interesting but I mostly had to skim. This was not science or even the history of science, but a travelogue/biography. I will have to keep searching for the book I need to answer my question. I prefer not to try to read a translation of Copernicus' book, but rather have it spoon fed to me in a condensed version.

  • John
    2019-05-16 21:33

    Here's an interesting book for someone looking for an offbeat science story. Gingerich tells the story of how he put together a catalog of all the known first and second editions of Copernicus' "De Revolutionibus." In this book, Copernicus suggests that the earth revolves around the sun rather than the sun around the earth. One of the most interesting aspects of this book is that I learned that the old system of epicycles, used to correct the retrograde movement of planets across the night sky, was no less accurate than a heliocentric system. What appealed to Copernicus was the heliocentric systems' simplicity. In any case, a nice inside look at how the History of Science world really works.

  • Denise Louise
    2019-05-18 22:45

    Not a bad book, just not as interesting as expected. I'm sure it was fascinating for the author to travel the world looking for copies of Copernicus' book in historic libraries, but reading about it was not as much fun as it should have been. The end of the book was more interesting, with tales of how his reviews and notes were able to get stolen copies back to their rightful owners. The goal was to discover if Copernicus' new ideas about the heliocentric universe were given much thought and attention at the time, and many of the books showed notations indicating they had. The stories in this book could have been much more engaging in the hands of a different writer, I think.

  • Scott Kardel
    2019-05-14 03:15

    While I love history of astronomy books, this one isn't high on my list. That isn't to say that Owen Gingerich didn't do an amazing thing. He did. He tracked down nearly every existing first and second edition copy of Nicolaus Copernicus' De revolutionibus (where the famed astronomer pushed the idea of the heliocentric universe). Along the way Gingerich became a noted expert on the individual editions located around the world and dispelled a popular notion that the book wasn't widely read in its time. There's too much "I went here and discovered this" and insider info on book auctions in the book for my tastes, but Gingerich certainly went far and wide to complete his amazing survey.

  • Ronald Lett
    2019-04-29 03:16

    Although it seems to devolve in the middle into a list of Western hemisphere globe-trotting trivia, the author quite effectively disproves the myth that Copernicus's seminal text was little read. In addition, we get to learn quite a lot about the "invisible college" of how knowledge was disseminated in those time periods, and how antique books are identified and distributed throughout the pre-modern and modern world. This knowledge is well worth the trip through the myriad of locales the author had to traverse in order to track down all known copies of Copernicus's text.

  • Barbara
    2019-04-23 20:39

    A pretty good read. Has a fair amount of "technical jargon". The journey of the author to discover how the "de revolutionibus" written by Copernicus was received by his peers and the cosmological community in general was more enlightening than I had presumed. To think that less than 500 years ago the scientific community and populace still believed that the Earth was the center of the universe!!!!!! Not being a "planet techie", some of the wordage was over my head. However, I still enjoyed the adventure through the best libraries of the world.

  • Michael Anderson
    2019-05-02 22:36

    Author sets out to find all extant copies of Copernicus's famous book, which places the sun at the center of the universe, in an attempt to see how many and who read the thing, mostly by examining the margin notes put there by the readers. It highly detailed and very repetitive, in my opinion, though not without occasional mild drama. Not a bad book, it almost held my interest, but I started skimming about 70% the way through.

  • Teresa
    2019-04-26 19:33

    There's no coherent sense of time in this nonfiction chronical, which makes the book a difficult read -- though I have no doubt this secondary book describing the author's task of cataloging all first and second editions of Copernicus' revolutionary work is far more interesting than the primary outcome.As with many other scientific histories, the story here is in the context it provides to the progression "modern" astronomy and cosmology.

  • Jacob Doerr
    2019-05-13 21:39

    i dident like the book. the book was about how the sun was the center of the universe and the catholic church dident like that. Nicolaus Copernicus is the main character in the book and he goes on this wild adventure to find this missing book that was taken from his university. it was also about Aristotle got throne in jail because of this idea in his head. he observed the moons of Jupiter and saw that they orbited Jupiter and not the Earth like the catholic says it does.

  • Lisa
    2019-04-22 19:38

    This was a great true story that mixed the history of science with the search for all extant copies of a book in libraries and personal collections around the world. I can't think of a book that better intersects these two subjects. the bonus? It's not fiction! The attention to marginalia, paper, and residue reminded me of People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. If you liked this book, you'll love that one!

  • Lance Grabmiller
    2019-04-28 22:22

    I love a good intellectual mystery or personal history of crazy projects and nerdy pursuits, and the THIRTY YEAR history of this guys quest is prett awesome, but overall the book was a bit dry and boring. Interesting to read modern political history in such a "sideways" way (the shifting geo-political map of the last 30 years and how it affected his search).

  • Lou
    2019-04-25 20:32

    Un precioso análisis histórico sobre el desarrollo de las tempranas teorías astronómicas geo y heliocentricas, Desde los sistemas ptolemaicos, centrándose en la influencia de Copernico hasta los descubrimientos de Galileo. Análisis del contexto cultural, histórico y religioso que rodeo dichos eventos, de una manera amena... solo para entusiastas de la historia y astronomía.

  • Elena
    2019-05-16 00:15

    L'argomento e' davvero interessante, ma chi prende in mano questo libro deve un po' fare i conti con l'autore, un professore universitario americano con un ego troppo grande. Piu' che incentrarsi su Copernico il libro e' pieno di io, io, io e io cosa ho fatto, e bla bla bla. Nonostante questo, sfrondando come si puo', rimangono molte informazioni interessanti.

  • Kathleen
    2019-05-04 19:30

    An interesting, albeit arcane, sleuthing job of who read Copernicus's paradigm-shifting work (first edition), and where they currently reside. A who's who of astronomy and physics of that day - amazing!

  • Converse
    2019-05-14 03:43

    A science historian's quest to track down all the existing copies of the 1st & 2nd editions of Copernicus's book. Disproves Arthur Koestler's remark that no one read it, by looking at the notes made in the margins by readers

  • Stephen
    2019-05-21 20:17

    Well, I didn't manage to read this sprawling account of an academics global chase to see every single copy of the first version of Copernicus' book. Too much extraneous detail not enough drama for my liking.

  • Adam K
    2019-04-24 02:26

    This is a little heavy on the scientific stuff, but the story is interesting! However, it left me with this burning question: What fictional character (scientist?) had a pet named Copernicus? I know Doc Brown's dog was Einstein, so it wasn't him. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....

  • Stephen Huntley
    2019-05-03 21:15

    For the general reader (me) it's too dry and the author's passion over obscure minutiae is hard to relate to. There's a smattering of mildly interesting observations, revelations and discoveries but along the way it's a long, slow wade through some pretty dull stuff.

  • Wendy Lu
    2019-04-27 00:24

    i liked it :) the whole walking us through the muddy legwork and backtracking and sunk-to-the-eyeballs-in-details of research. i dunno -- maybe i would like science research and history research equally. i think i just really like the process of research.