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Book Nobody Read Paperback – Feb 22 2005


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Paperback, Feb 22 2005
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Paperbacks; 1 edition (Feb. 22 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143034766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143034766
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #836,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What an amazing tale of history and intrique. The years and research that went into this book are almost unbelievable. If you are interested in the life and times of Nicholas Copernicus, and one of the most famous books to change the direction of science/astronomy, "On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres", this book is a must read.
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Format: Paperback
In 1970, Owen Gingerich set out to survey every surviving copy of Copernicus's book. His journey took him around the world and, eventually, took thirty years to complete.

This book is the story of that journey. In equal parts, Gingerich provides us with the biography of a book, some knowledge of the scientific knowledge it contains, an insight into the people who owned it and some fascinating information about 16th century book publishing. We also see some of the dark side of the rare book trade.

A great 'book about a book'.

Highly recommended.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Format: Hardcover
In the year of my birth, Arthur Koestler threw down a gauntlet when he labeled Nicolaus Copernicus' De revolutionibus [arguably the greatest science book of the last few thousand years] "the book nobody read." Owen Gingerich, astronomer and bibliophile, picked up that gauntlet and did battle with Koestler in the way a scientist must do battle - find empirical evidence that the book had been read. The Book Nobody Read is Gingerich's popular account of his decades long effort to track down every extant copy of the first and second edition of De revolutionibus to look for evidence of use [mainly using the marginalia left by the readers/owners]. The book flap blurb nails the book when it calls The Book Nobody Read "part biography of a book, part scientific exploration, [and] part bibliographic detective story." The blurb writer could have tossed in adventure story, too. I enjoyed the book immensely, especially the excellent way in which The Book Nobody Read illustrates the use of the scientific [empirical] method for what many folks would perceive as a non-traditional use. As a bibliophile and science teacher, I'm probably a member of the perfect audience for this book. I include the previous statement as a caution, because at least one of the reviewers seems to have misjudged what the book was about. If you are interested in traditional biography and want a book on Nicolaus Copernicus, The Book Nobody Read may disappoint. If you like books on books and have an interest in history [especially the history of science], I think you'd rate this book a classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Moskowitz on June 28 2004
Format: Hardcover
If I wish to determine who has read my publications or US patents, I can go to on-line sources of information. I can quickly get an idea of the influence of my work through the citations in subsequent publications. However, even citations do not necessarily assure that a work has been read. In order to find the influence of Copernicus' famous book, the author has spent decades tracking down the six hundred surviving copies of "De Revolutionibus" in the libraries of the world. He has used the marginal writings in these books to connect the books with their owners and groups of sixteenth century astronomers and mathematicians. Yes, Copernicus' book was read and analyzed by scientists throughout the western world.
Gingerich's book may be of more interest to library scientists than to astronomers. However, I did find the chapter on the geocentric Ptolemaic system vs. the Copernican heliocentric system fascinating. The author dispels the myth that the Ptolemaic system needed an unmanageable number of epicycles to match calculations with observations.. He shows that the two systems yielded equivalent predictions using about the same order of complexity. As a physicist, I would argue that you can work in any coordinate system that you choose, even one in which the Earth is stationary. However, the Copernican system did simplify the calculations and more importantly does more closely express the physical reality of the solar system. The work of Copernicus paved the way for Kepler's laws including the discovery of the elliptical nature of planetary orbits. Both the geocentric and heliocentric models were based upon the theory that the orbits of celestial bodies were fundamentally circular. This was a good first approximation for matching the precision of the existing observations. It was another century and a half after Copernicus that Newton formulated a theoretical basis for explaining planetary mechanics.
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By A Customer on April 12 2004
Format: Hardcover
A respected historian of science, Owen Gingerich provides not only a fascinating introduction into the reception of Copernicus's De Revolutionibus but also a terrific narrative about the production of scholarship. The end result is both an engaging chapter in the history of science and an amazing foray into the history of reading more generally.
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