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A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  1,389 Ratings  ·  185 Reviews
By 1514, the reclusive cleric Nicolaus Copernicus had developed an initial outline of his heliocentric theory-in which he defied common sense and received wisdom to place the sun, and not the earth, at the center of our universe, and set the earth spinning among the other planets. Over the next two decades, Copernicus expanded his theory and compiled in secret a book-lengt ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Walker Books (first published 2011)
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(showing 1-30)
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Richard Derus
Dec 19, 2011 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4* of five

The Book Report: Heliocentrism. I doubt that stirs much passion in anyone reading this review. It means "sun centeredness." *yawn* The solar system is heliocentric. Hawaiian culture is heliocentric. Big whoop.

In the Sixteenth Century, this sh*t was hot news, and really really controversial. Think gay-marriage-level passions inflamed. Heliocentrism meant that the SUN and not God's Perfect Creation The Earth was the center of the Universe. Panic! Riots! Thunderings from dimwitted
...more
Clif Hostetler
Mar 22, 2013 Clif Hostetler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is the story of Nicolaus Copernicus and how his book, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) revolutionized astronomy. There are two facts about Copernicus that I found astounding. First, astronomy was his hobby not his occupation. Second, his book was almost NOT published.

His job as church canon meant that he worked full time with responsibilities that included tasks such as administering church farm rental lands, negotiating peace terms with the
...more
Wayne
May 22, 2012 Wayne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE !!!
Recommended to Wayne by: Dava's previous books
Dava Sobel spoke at the Sydney Writers' Festival last week
about her latest wonderful book.
She and the interviewer also performed two excerpts from her play
of the conversation between Copernicus the Polish Catholic Astronomer cleric and Rheticus the young German Lutheran Mathematician who had visited Copernicus to urge him to publish and be damned.
This brief play forms part of this novel.
Dava played Rheticus who as a believer of astrology got some hefty
trouncing from his Scientific Better.It was
...more
Emily Lakdawalla
As with her previous two books Longitude and Galileo's Daughter, Dava Sobel draws heavily on primary sources for her latest book, A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos. With lengthy quotes from personal letters and contemporary records, Sobel paints a picture in words of the life and times of a man whose work literally produced a revolution, changing the static, immovable Earth to one that spun and revolved around the Sun at the center of the cosmos.

Sobel's work is cha
...more
Matt
May 20, 2012 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fine read about Copernicus.

First and foremost, it paints a clear portrayal of the forces Copernicus faced in the Europe of his time: the tensions between Catholic and Protestant forces, small and large powers; the nature of scientific inquiry in the day; the blurred line between astrology and astronomy; and above all, Copernicus's hesitancy to publish, given fears over the public reaction.

Copernicus did his best to avoid controversy, but there was no pretty much no chance he could both publish
...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
Interesting book about how hard the beginning of the Renaissance really was.
Jason Golomb
Sep 02, 2011 Jason Golomb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dava Sobels' "A More Perfect Heaven" is a biography of Polish mathematician and astronomer Nicholas Copernicus, a history of the development of his theory of a sun-centric solar system, and an engaging look into a Europe on the cusp of transitioning from a dark and paranoid medieval society to an enlightened and brighter renaissance future.

While the focus of Sobels' work is her history of Copernicus the man, his science and mathematics, Sobels' biggest victory is her fictionalized drama of how
...more
Bob
Oct 29, 2011 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Dava Sobel, author of Longitude and Galileo's Daughter, has taken on another important figure from the Scientific Revolution, Nicholas Copernicus. Sobel's book is unique in that the most dramatic part of Copernicus' life, the writing and publishing of his work "On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres" which laid out his heliocentric theory of the solar system, is presented as a drama. It is a daring choice and it is one that works well.

Copernicus was born in Poland, educated in Italy, and work
...more
Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com
Dec 01, 2011 Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos by Dava Sobel is part fiction part non-fiction book. The book includes a play in two acts in the middle.

It is 1514 and Polish monk Nicolaus Copernicus has the initial outline for his heliocentric theory in which he defies the norms of society and church by placing the sun in the center of the universe. Copernicus’ book is long and detailed, yet unpublished.

A young German mathematician named Georg Joachim Rheticus comes to study unde
...more
Callie Leuck
I should preface this review by saying that I read this book for a class and am probably not the intended audience; I probably would not have picked it up on my own.

I admire Dava Sobel for taking a risk and trying something new here. This is a nonfiction biography surrounding a fictional play. The play is Dava Sobel's imagining of a key moment in Copernicus' life: when someone convinces him to write and publish his heliocentric-universe idea.

I greatly enjoyed the play and would love to see it p
...more
Vince
Jul 03, 2013 Vince rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting combination of history and fiction. Sobel covers Copernicus' life in the first 1/3 of the book and part of the last third. Most of the last third is devoted to devoted assistant Joachim Rheticus, who was largely responsible for the publication of Copernicus book 'On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres', and the astronomers who followed his work (esp. Brahe, Kepler and Galileo), and the continuing influence it has today. The middle third of the book includes a play about Copern ...more
Eduardo Santiago
Aug 25, 2012 Eduardo Santiago rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as enjoyable as Longitude or Galileo's Daughter. The play-within-a-play-biography gimmick didn't really work well for me. Still, four stars because I really did develop a strong feeling for that time period. It can't be easy: we live in a world where heliocentrism is a fundamental tenet, known and understood since we're old enough to say “mama.” We can't really imagine what it was like when this wasn't understood. Sobel does a great job conveying the zeitgeist.

(Side rant: Why oh why do I rea
...more
Charlie
Dec 27, 2016 Charlie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part one was about the life of a visionary who possessed great faith in the church. He did not feel that the universe he saw placed any less significance in God.

Part two is a play that depicts the writing of Copernicus's great work. This was enjoyable and a new way for me to learn about history.

Part three dealt with the aftermath of Copernician thought.

I liked it!
Elena
Jun 09, 2013 Elena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. And her play in the middle, brilliant... i only wish it had been longer. Thanks for signing my copy and for the great lecture of Copernicus!
Ben Babcock
I came across this book while browsing the science section in Waterstones, because that’s where they hide all the good mathematics books as well, and I was looking for an appropriate math book to give to a fellow math friend for her birthday. (I opted for Ian Stewart’s Hoard of Mathematical Treasures.) Having read Dava Sobel’s explication of John Harrison and the marine chronometer in Longitude , I snapped this up without a second thought. Later, I discovered it was already on my to-read list. ...more
Maureen Neville
During approximately the past 20 years the author, Dava Sobol, has written several books about various famous scientists from different historical eras who have studied astronomy and navigation. This is the first book of Ms. Sobol's that I've read, however. While it did take me a while to read this work about Copernicus, an astronomer (& also canon of the Catholic Church), it continued to hold my interest. Not being very knowledgeable about astronomy, at times I found I wish I knew more, yet ...more
Vitak Cheav
3.87 stars

Okay... This is a good book. Especially the play! The play is funny, awesome and, at the same time, imaginative and creative. It's like a fanfiction all over again. And I love how Dava made Copernicus invent the machine and all those cool objects. She managed to make Copernicus look funny and amazing at the same time. He would not have been so, I believe, as he had stroke before he died. He must have been a very stressed man. However, I couldn't fall more for Dava's magic of creativ
...more
Owen Martin
Mar 19, 2017 Owen Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book, most other good ideas come from the idea that we are not at the centre of the universe.
Daniel
Mar 12, 2017 Daniel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A really strange mix of fact and fictional speculation, in particular the play in part two. The book is not sure what it wants to be: a bio of Copernicus, a description of his contributions to astronomy, an argument for the significance of his findings. Ultimately it doesn't fully succeed at any. Reminiscent of a bio of J.D. Salinger, just not enough facts to fill a book, so the author is left with the task of filling in too many blanks. What results is a hodgepodge of this and that. The play wa ...more
Walt
Oct 29, 2011 Walt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is this book stellar? Cosmic? Heavenly? Is that too cliché of a characterization?

Well, yes and no, I guess. It depends on how literally you take it. At least in my mind, this work probably deserves something like a 3.5 or a 4 rating. I definitely found it a better read than 3.0 or below.

I am certainly no historian, scientist, or astrologer, and those who are, or who pretend to be, seem to have given their ample, comprehensive, and fairly convincing reviews so far relative to this work based upon
...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
Oct 14, 2011 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarybooks
‘The motions of the planets captured Copernicus’s interest from the start of his university studies.’

Nicolaus Copernicus (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543), a Polish mathematician and astronomer, was the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric astronomical model of our solar system. In this book, Ms Sobel provides a biography of Copernicus together with a history of the development of his heliocentric astronomical model. Copernicus was working during a period of change in Europe: th
...more
Jason
Oct 25, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Revolutions often come from unexpected places, and often begin when no one is looking for one to start. So it was with the Copernican revolution, beginning in the early 16th century. He was an unknown church administrator, in an out of the way, not particularly wealthy or known for learning. What is now northern Poland was just a worn torn area, with lots of local strife, that drained much of the best talent. Perhaps precisely because Copernicus was left on his own for so long, and that he was a ...more
Kevin
Feb 27, 2017 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I thought that I'd dislike the middle third fictional portion of this non fiction book but was surprised that had such a positive assistance to my understanding of Copernicus's life and times.
Perry Clark
Dava Sobel showed in her previous works that the science and technology are compounds in the crucible in which humans find themselves. The challenges of scientific thought are no more important than the challenges of human interaction. The gist of things, then, is that should read Sobel more for the historical drama than for the science. Oh, one does learn a bit of science in making one's way through her writings, but the more important, exciting, and memorable bits that emanate from Sobel's pen ...more
Beth Duffus
Dec 22, 2016 Beth Duffus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sobel has done extensive research as usual. Not that easy to make the life of Nicolas Copernicus interesting - the über maths geek of his time. You get the impression of a man with a fairly humdrum external life whilst in private he was meticulously calculating mathematical, astronomical truths that would alter humanity's perception of itself and our earth forever. Sobel also portrays the real fear of exposing this controversial truth against a background of religious fundamentalism that was alr ...more
Kristi Thielen
Jun 18, 2012 Kristi Thielen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A devout canon of the Catholic Church and a "physician," - as much as one was in the early 16th century - Copernicus is better remembered as the first astronomer who outlined the theory that the Earth moves about the sun and not the reverse. It is less well remembered that although he wrote a book-length manuscript about the theory, he did not publish it, fearing ridicule - or worse - from the Catholic Church.

Then along came a young German mathematician, and a Lutheran to boot, who found his wa
...more
Joseph Adelizzi, Jr.
Having read and enjoyed two previous books by Dava Sobel I had high expectations for her latest work “A More Perfect Heaven.” Admittedly my enthusiasm revolved more around the author than any pre-existing interest in Nicolaus Copernicus, the two previous works obvious evidence that my high expectations would be well founded. Sometimes you can't trust the evidence.

I found it odd and annoying that the book consists of both a biography and a play. I will concede it is a clever device which mirrors
...more
Randolph Carter
This is strictly a historical book. There is precious little science in it. It was a good overview of the Copernican revolution and particularly the role of Rheticus in convincing Copernicus to publish his work: On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. The book also briefly deals with the repercussions of this publication.

Ultimately I could only give this book three stars. The book is well written in a lively manner. However, I think it is a flawed book by centering on a rather fanciful drama
...more
Kyle
Apr 01, 2012 Kyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bullet Point Time!

- I always appreciate the look at the real life of great people. I loved Vaclav Havel's insights into the monotony of everyday existence when he incorporated memos such as "We need a longer hose for watering" into his memoir To the Castle and Back. And so I loved how Sobel inserted Copernicus' notes about the administration of land into her description of his life.

- I thought the play in the middle of the book was an enjoyable fictionalized account of Rheticus trying to convin
...more
Rachel Pollock
May 04, 2012 Rachel Pollock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because i liked the premise--scientific history bookending a play written about a portion of the life of Copernicus. I was interested in the topic, but also in the hybrid form in which the information and artistry was being conveyed. And yet, i feel like i have two reviews of this book--thatof the whole, and that of the interior play.

Much of it is a fascinating blend of biographical information, cultural observation of the 16th century church/state, and analysis of surviving let
...more
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Dava Sobel is an accomplished writer of popular expositions of scientific topics. A 1964 graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, Ms. Sobel attended Antioch College and the City College of New York before receiving her bachelor of arts degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1969. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from the University of Bath, in England, and M ...more
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“Faultfinding is of little use and scant profit, for it is the mark of a shameless mind to prefer the role of the censorious critic to that of the creative poet. —FROM COPERNICUS’S Letter Against Werner, JUNE 3, 1524” 1 likes
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