A More Perfect Heaven: Book summary and reviews of A More Perfect Heaven by Dava Sobel

A More Perfect Heaven

How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos

by Dava Sobel

A More Perfect Heaven by Dava Sobel X
A More Perfect Heaven by Dava Sobel
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Book Summary

By 1514, the reclusive cleric Nicolaus Copernicus had written and hand-copied an initial outline of his heliocentric theory - in which he defied common sense and received wisdom to place the sun, not the earth, at the center of our universe, and set the earth spinning among the other planets. Over the next two decades, Copernicus expanded his theory through hundreds of observations, while compiling in secret a book-length manuscript that tantalized mathematicians and scientists throughout Europe. For fear of ridicule, he refused to publish.

In 1539, a young German mathematician, Georg Joachim Rheticus, drawn by rumors of a revolution to rival the religious upheaval of Martin Luther's Reformation, traveled to Poland to seek out Copernicus. Two years later, the Protestant youth took leave of his aging Catholic mentor and arranged to have Copernicus's manuscript published, in 1543, as De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) - the book that forever changed humankind's place in the universe.

In her elegant, compelling style, Dava Sobel chronicles, as nobody has, the conflicting personalities and extraordinary discoveries that shaped the Copernican Revolution. At the heart of the book is her play And the Sun Stood Still, imagining Rheticus's struggle to convince Copernicus to let his manuscript see the light of day. As she achieved with her bestsellers Longitude and Galileo's Daughter, Sobel expands the bounds of narration, giving us an unforgettable portrait of scientific achievement, and of the ever-present tensions between science and faith.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Sobel (The Planets, 2005, etc.) offers another meaty while mellifluous story of science... A liquid entertainment of choice passages on the thoughts and deeds of Copernicus." - Kirkus Reviews

"Sobel's latest assiduously researched, humanistic biography may prove irresistible to history-of-science fans." - Booklist

"Delivered with her usual stylistic grace (and here, a touch of astrological whimsy), Sobel's gamble largely succeeds in bringing Copernicus and his intellectually and religiously tumultuous time alive." - Publishers Weekly

This information about A More Perfect Heaven was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Dava Sobel Author Biography

Dava Sobel, a former New York Times science reporter, is the author of Longitude (Walker 1995 and 2005, Penguin 1996), Galileo's Daughter (Walker 1999 and 2011, Penguin 2000), The Planets (Viking 2005, Penguin 2006), A More Perfect Heaven (Walker / Bloomsbury 2011 and 2012), And the Sun Stood Still (Bloomsbury, 2016) and The Glass Universe (Viking, 2016). She has also co-authored six books, including Is Anyone Out There? with astronomer Frank Drake.

In recent years she has been teaching science writing, first at the University of Chicago in 2006, at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia, in 2011, and from 2013 to 2016 at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts as the Joan Lieman Jacobson Visiting Nonfiction Writer.

Link to Dava Sobel's Website

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  • Galileo's Daughter jacket
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