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From Barnes & Noble
Athanasius Kircher (c.1601-1680) was not your average scientist or, at least, we hope that he wasn't. With a curiosity that knew no bounds, this hard-working German Jesuit wrote about topics ranging from mermaids to magnetism; from fossils to the spread of plagues. Although he has been described as "the first scholar with a global reputation" and "a one-man intellectual clearing house," Kircher was wrong about almost everything he touched. For example, his translations of Egyptian hieroglyphics were totally inaccurate. Nevertheless, as John Glassie's vivid biography demonstrates, this energetic pre-Enlightenment thinker opened scientific doors even though he habitually took the wrong path after he entered. A stimulating view of a man once lauded by kings, aristocrats, and popes.