Show Book List

Reviews elsewhere on the web:
complete review

Owen Gingerich

The book nobody read

The title is from Koestler's The Sleepwalkers, and refers to Copernicus's. De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium. Historian of Science Gingerich saw that one copy had been well anotated, and so clearly somebody had read it. He then started on a quest to find who had read the early editions, by looking at annotations. This expanded into a search for all existing copies of the 1st and 2nd editions. Combines a biography of Copernicus and his student Rheticus, with an account of Gingerich's studies over more than 30 years.

It is very interesting to see quite how much information Gingerich could find about the lives of scientists from 500 years ago. But I wouldn;t say that it was gripping from start to finish - I sometimes find an account of where the author went and who he met 30 years ago can get a bit tedious. info
Paperback 320 pages  
ISBN: 0143034766
Salesrank: 640003
Weight:0.55 lbs
Published: 2005 Penguin Books
Marketplace:New from $12.95:Used from $1.89
Buy from info
Paperback 320 pages  
ISBN: 0099476444
Salesrank: 389660
Weight:0.53 lbs
Published: 2005 Arrow
Amazon price £7.99
Marketplace:New from £7.99:Used from £0.01
Buy from info
Paperback 320 pages  
ISBN: 0143034766
Salesrank: 831368
Weight:0.55 lbs
Published: 2005 Penguin Paperbacks
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 42.38:Used from CDN$ 0.01
Buy from

Product Description
Part biography of a book, part scientific exploration, part bibliographic detective story, The Book Nobody Read recolors the history of cosmology and offers a new appreciation of the enduring power of an extraordinary book and its ideas. Prodded by Arthur Koestler’s claim that when it was first published nobody read Copernicus’s De revolutionibus—in which Copernicus first suggested that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the universe—renowned astro-historian Owen Gingerich embarked on a three-decade-long quest to see in person all 600 extant copies of the first and second editions of De revolutionibus, including those owned and annotated by Galileo and Kepler. Tracing the ownership of individual copies through the hands of saints, heretics, scalawags, and bibliomaniacs, Gingerich proves conclusively—four and a half centuries after its publication—that De revolutionibus was as inspirational as it was revolutionary.