A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos

A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos

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by Dava Sobel

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Named Best Science Book for Fall 2011 by Publishers Weekly

The bestselling author of Longitude and Galileo's Daughter tells the story of Nicolaus Copernicus, and the revolution he inspired, in an utterly original and groundbreaking new book.

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Named Best Science Book for Fall 2011 by Publishers Weekly

The bestselling author of Longitude and Galileo's Daughter tells the story of Nicolaus Copernicus, and the revolution he inspired, in an utterly original and groundbreaking new book.

Editorial Reviews

Mike Brown
Dava Sobel describes [Copernicus's] life and his legacy in her enjoyable A More Perfect Heaven…a delightful immersion into tumultuous times
—The Washington Post
Sam Kean
Minus Rheticus, Copernicus could have become another Pierre de Fermat or Pythagoras—someone who teased us with whiffs of big ideas, but died leaving more questions than answers about what he actually understood. Almost 500 years later, no one knows what argument or plea or even taunt made Copernicus face himself and say, I must publish. But Sobel supplies a plausible, and stirring, version of his transformation.
—The New York Times Book Review
New York Times Katherine Bouton

Ms. Sobel is an elegant stylist, a riveting and efficient storyteller, a writer who can bring the dustiest of subjects to full-blooded life -- poignant, in the case of Galileo; cautious but also loving, loyal and feisty in the case of Copernicus.
The Wall Street Journal

Lively, inventive…a masterly specimen of close-range cultural history. Ms. Sobel certainly brings Copernicus to life, perhaps better than any other author. Ms. Sobel presents a thoroughly researched and eminently readable account of a major scientist who celebrated the sun yet lurks in the shadows.
Washington Post Mike Brown

Dava Sobel describes [Copernicus's] life and his legacy in her enjoyable "A More Perfect Heaven"…[A] delightful immersion into tumultuous times…All this history is just the background for the heart of Sobel's book: the meeting of the aged Copernicus with the young German mathematician Georg Joachim Rheticus, who had heard of Copernicus's ideas and traveled to Poland for a first-hand account. Rheticus stayed, helped Copernicus finish his treatise and, four years later, shepherded it through its first printing…We'll never know precisely how Rheticus convinced Copernicus to finally set it all in print, but, as Sobel shows, we certainly owe him gratitude, for these manuscripts are treasures of our world, tracing our first steps out into an understandable cosmos.
Chicago Tribune Julia Keller

The new work by science writer Dava Sobel, author of "Longitude" (1995) and "Galileo's Daughter" (2000) is half-narrative, half-drama -- and it's all enthralling, all illuminating. As in her previous bestselling books, Sobel… turns the history of science into a great story filled with fascinating characters, excruciating near-misses and the sudden splendor of the new discovery…A More Perfect Heaven is the story of how a young German mathematician named Rhetiucs finally persuaded Copernicus to publish his outlandish theory. Their relationship is the energizing spark of Sobel's book…Her two-act play "And the Sun Stood Still" is included in A More Perfect Heaven, and it puts flesh on the long-dissolved bones of these historical figures…Sobel, who was writer-in-residence at the U. of C. in 2006, writes with a calm authority and a deep knowledge that never tip into condescension to the lay reader. The haunting final paragraph of this beautiful book, combining science and a sort of poetic awe, is emblematic of her work as a whole.
Kansas City Star David Walton

Like Rumpelstiltskin, Dava Sobel seems able to spin gold out of straw. She has made best-sellers out of two unlikely subjects: the history of longitude and the life of Galileo's daughter…Sobel goes beyond conjecture, which a historian may not, and instead takes conjecture in hand as a playwright can. The center of her book is a fictional two-act play -- "And the Sun Stood Still"…It's absorbing and very well-written, and dramatically very effective. And very effective historically, too…The gripe most of us history lovers have with historical fiction is that it imagines too much, reaches too far. Sobel's dramatization gives immediacy to an historical account made up, as much of history is, by peripheral documents -- rent transactions, correspondence about local coin values, written in the formalistic and impersonal style of the day…Sobel will have another of her improbable best-sellers, I predict, in this story of how Copernicus went to press -- a further example of how an author's wit, intelligence, good grace and imagination can find gold in the most unlikely places.
Nature Owen Gingerich

The wonderful detail and eloquent writing that Sobel demonstrated in her best-selling Longitude and Galileo's Daughter carry the reader along here too. Given what she has chosen to include, the book is first rate…A More Perfect Heaven is a charming and accurate book…[T]his carefully constructed biography leaves space for those of us probing the origins of heliocentrism to defend our speculations.
Financial Times

Sobel characteristically gives us the man in full…[she] tells her story fluently.

However readers respond to Sobel's unorthodox addition, her account of Copernicus' life nicely balances personal details and such historical forces that knocked Copernicus around as the Reformation and the Teutonic Knights. Sobel's latest assiduously researched, humanistic biography may prove irresistible to history-of-science fans.
The Economist

A refreshingly fast-paced account of the life of Nicolaus Copernicus. 'A More Perfect Heaven' does a good job of giving the flavor of life in Reformation-era Europe…an excellent book.
Men's Journal

As a colorful, singular history, Sobel's narrative doesn't disappoint. But her most surprising and satisfying turn is the two act play, 'And the Sun Stood Still'
Library Journal
Author of such engrossing international best sellers as Longitude, Sobel has the knowledge and writerly grace to explain what Copernicus accomplished—and how youthful German mathematician Georg Joachim Rheticus convinced him to publish On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres and change the world. A book on science and personality that should intrigue us all; with a 14-city tour.
Kirkus Reviews

Sobel (The Planets, 2005, etc.) offers another meaty-while-mellifluous story of science.

The author elegantly fashions the life of Copernicus as a two-act play bracketed by historically documented narratives that cover the periods before and after the arrival of Georg Joachim Rheticus at Copernicus's Polish doorstep in 1539. Some 30 years earlier, Copernicus had roughed out a heliocentric theory of the universe and quietly distributed it to a number of mathematicians. Word of it reached the ears of Rheticus, a 25-year-old professor of mathematics at the university in Wittenberg. He arrived at Copernicus's house as an "unexpected guest" and an altogether problematical one: a Lutheran during a time of anti-heretical fervor. Sobel draws Copernicus as a devout Catholic, but not unsympathetic to the Lutherans; he reluctantly agreed to Rheticus staying on when the youth awakened in him the desire to finish his great work and get it published. Sobel presents an illuminating piece of work, bringing to life the old man and the young man's days spent together and in particular Rheticus' coming to terms, the bending of his mind, around Copernicus's theory, which was more radical than he understood. Readers are fit squarely in Rheticus' shoes via Sobel's neat act of transport, there to share his bafflement and resistance. The book closes with the tale of the fate ofOn the Revolutions; just as Copernicus had worried, it dismayed the hidebound and the "babblers, who claim to be judges of astronomy, although completely ignorant of the subject...such men are not above twisting some passage of Scripture to their purpose, to censure me."

A liquid entertainment of choice passages on the thoughts and deeds of Copernicus.

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Bloomsbury USA
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