He has been celebrated variously as a brilliant mathematician and as a martyr to science, but in this beautifully illustrated biography by science historian John Heilbron, Galileo emerges as a much more rounded genius. He was deeply knowledgeable in the arts—an expert on the epic poet Ariosto, for example, and a fine lutenist—and he recorded his telescopic observations in exquisite drawings and descriptions. Indeed, when Galileo published his Siderius nuncius (Starry Messenger) 400 years ago—a "hurried little masterpiece," notes Heilbron—it is because he was able to express himself so clearly and eloquently that discoveries like the satellites of Jupiter and craters on the moon could not be denied.
"[This book] will no doubt become the standard, comprehensive biography."—NYTBR