Reviews - What do customers think about The Life of Copernicus (1473-1543)?
Not for the General Reader Apr 11, 2003
This book is not enjoyable for a generalist to read. The author is obviously a non-native English speaker and apparently did not have a fluent English-speaking editor review it prior to publication. The poor English is at first quaint and childlike, even charming for a paragraph or two, but in a 300+ page book laden with unadorned facts and dates, this quality soon becomes distracting to the point of annoyance. There is also evidence that the book was not copy-edited. Typos and misspellings abound. Despite its initial professional appearance, once opened it gives the impression of having been published out of an individual's basement.
The text of Gassendi's orginal is only a very small portion of this unwieldy book. It's enclosed in graphics boxes (sometimes only 3 or 4 lines long, never as much as a full page), printed in reduced-size type, and surrounded by the commentary of the modern author who does his best to elaborate in an alien English medium. The pages are further broken by footnotes on nearly every page. The result is not successful.
It's possible, even probable, that the information in this book is valuable. There are many, many sentences that are nothing but lists of dates and occurrences significant to Copernicus and/or his background. If you're a professional English-speaking historian looking for data more so than an interesting read, you might find value in this, especially because virtually every source is a non-English one (which makes perfect sense from a historical perspective). Also, you will be accustomed to reading documents for their informational value rather than their literary or entertainment merit. But as a general reader, I could not slog past the amateurish language and design. I have read 2 or 3 PhD dissertations, and this reminds me of a turgid one of those.
Overall, I'd warn the general reader against this book. Any value it has would seem to be for the specialist.
A detail historical study Jan 3, 2003
This is a serious biography of Copernicus, the first man who established that the earth is moving. Aristarchus has said it earlier, but his book has been lost, and his theory was completely ignored. Therefore Copernius is considered to be the Founder of Modern Astronomy. Later, Galileo, because he admired him, had to face the inquisition. This book includes the first translation in English of the excellent biography written in 1654 by Pierre Gassendi who was a French humanist and an astronomer himself. This old text renders very well the atmosphere of the Renaissance. This historical document is completed with up-to-date pieces of information found in the archives. Therefore, this book is the most detailed and acurate book about Copernicus, his life, his colleagues, and the reception of his system, with appendixes about the condemnation of heliocentrism, and the experiments proving the motion of the earth. This is easy to read, although this is not a novel, every thing said is true. There is no idle talks, but mainly facts. It is not only about astronomy, but also about the life of people living in the 16th century.