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Kepler's Witch: An Astronomer's Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother
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Kepler's Witch: An Astronomer's Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother

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3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  144 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Set against the backdrop of the witchcraft trial of his mother, this fascinating biography of Johannes Kepler, "the Protestant Galileo" and 16th century mathematician and astronomer who discovered the three basic laws of planetary motion, reveals the surprisingly spiritual nature of the quest of early modern science.

In the style of Dava Sobel's Galileo's Daughter, Connor's
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Hardcover
Published March 30th 2004 by HarperOne
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Yordanka
In the introduction of the book, the author, James Connor, says:
If I have any mea culpas to make in this book, one is this—I did not try to give an account, except as a sketch, of Kepler’s science.
Indeed, in this book, the information about the great scientific achievements of Johannes Kepler is scant. I believe that the majority of the people, who would be interested in reading about Kepler, are people with some level of interest in astronomy, mathematics, or science. If you are one of them,
...more
Ubiquitousbastard
The title is misleading. Hardly any of the monograph is concerned with his mother's trial and there is very little about witchcraft at all. Most of the book is concerned with minute accomplishments of Kepler and the kind of insignificant details of his personal life. I really don't care how many kids he had and when, and what their names were. Or worse, the twelve women he almost married are mentioned twice for some odd reason. Actually, there is quite a bit of repetition in this, with the same ...more
Pacific
I completely enjoyed reading this book, even though it wasn't the easiest book to read. It take me over a year to read, since I would take breaks to read other books, but I am glad I finished it. The life and story of Kepler a dreamer, mathematician, stargazer, astrologer, devoted to his religion and science, father, and son of an accused witch. The inside scoop on being an emperor's mathematician, never knowing when you would get paid, moving his family from one place to another, his complete b ...more
Jessica
This was quite an interesting book. Kepler lived in an incredibly difficult time during the history of Europe, and he managed to accomplish great things. His mother was tried for witchcraft, he was persecuted for his religion, he suffered from depression, and several of his children died. I didn't know much about him, and this was a good read. It would have been better if I knew a bit more about European history, because I kept getting confused about who was who, and there were some descriptions ...more
William J. Shep
An odd book in some ways. Great topic about the great German astronmer's life and work and the turmoil of religious intolerance and ignorance that often inhibited his great work and hounded his poor mother to death. However, the book is not well integrated and often repetitive. Despite these problems it is well worth the reading.
Valerie
Places Kepler in context, while outlining his contributions to astronomy lots of interesting stuff about him and his patrons and mentors. Especially Brahe.
Jake
My first introduction to Johannes Kepler came through Carl Sagan's television documentary Cosmos. Mr. Sagan presented Kepler as proverbial scientific hero--like Galileo, a man under intense pressure to recant or revise his work to satisfy prevailing worldviews of the day. Yet Kepler was also a devout Lutheran who stood up to the Counter-Reformation even as his own church dismissed him. Through this book, that sense of Kepler as a brave scientific pioneer was reinforced for me, and I gained new e ...more
Ali Forman
Takes a while to get into it, but it's a great book that illustrates the life and times of Johannes Kepler and how science and religion played big roles in his life.
It focuses throughout the book of his mother's witch trial and how it later affects him. It starts with his Lutheran background, schooling and that he was always anxious to learn. Later it shows his great faith in his God and how his science helps further that belief in God. His religious leaders don't like that to say the least and
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John Gribbin
Joint review

Heavenly Intrigue
By Joshua Gilder and Anne-Lee Gilder

Kepler’s Witch
By James A. Connor


One of the delights of reviewing is to have your expectations overturned. I was doubly lucky with these two books. When I first looked at them, I anticipated that Kepler’s Witch would be an intriguing account of one of the more obscure events in the life of the great astronomer Johannes Kepler, but that Heavenly Intrigue, which suggests that Kepler murdered his patron Tycho Brahe, would be the work o
...more
Elvira
I completely enjoyed reading this book, even though it wasn't the easiest book to read. It take me over a year to read, since I would take breaks to read other books, but I am glad I finished it. The life and story of Kepler a dreamer, mathematician, stargazer, astrologer, devoted to his religion and science, father, and son of an accused witch. The inside scoop on being an emperor's mathematician, never knowing when you would get paid, moving his family from one place to another, his complete b ...more
Tlaura
This is a poorly sourced hagiography with a, none-the-less, interesting point of view. Its shortcomings are frustrating: at one low point Connor quotes a passage from Harmonices Mundi, cites Max Caspar, but says Caspar gave no reference for the quote, the implication being that Connor wrote a biography of Kepler without reading what Kepler considered his magnum opus! (It's freely available in English translation on the internet, though to be fair this may not have been the case in 2004.) There i ...more
Sam Bennett
If you've ever wondered why there is always a clash between religion and science, this a great book to deepen understanding. Kepler was pre-Newton. According to this book, Kepler should be added to the triad of Galileo, Newton, Copernicus. He was right on the edge of Newwtons discoveries but at the time the math hasn't been fully created. In addition he lived at the dawn of the scientific revolution and the bEginning of the 30 yrs War in Europe. The book only deals with Kepler's science, which h ...more
Joy
Kepler was a brilliant man. His mother probably also had a brilliant mind but was thwarted by a lack of education, by gender and class. This book presents a good picture of life in Europe during the 30 years war.
Linda
Sep 09, 2014 Linda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yes
Excellent book! It is full of research, knowledge, life in the 15th century, Kepler's life and accomplishments as well as the extent he went to in order to prove what he felt was accurate. His sacrifices, hardships and frustration at times are vivid and you can almost feel his pain. It is very detailed and at times was a little slow because of so much detail, but there is no part that could be omitted. The author did an excellent job of the flow of the narrative in providing enough detail then s ...more
Liza
overall thus was an interesting and informative book. however, it was a bit too informative. the title is misleading in that the circumstances surrounding the witch trial of keplers mother was more of a subplot, a tangent, to the book. kepler was a fascinating man, who lived in a very dynamic time of history. the author provides A LOT of background information and side stories of keplers friends and colleagues. while this is interesting to understanding the time period, it is not pertinent to th ...more
Brandi
Conner does give a lot of information about Kepler's life and work as well as how he was affected by his faith, his ideas about science, ideologies, etc. Even though there is a lot of useful information presented in this book, it can seem a bit 'choppy' at times. Parts of the book do not always flow well together and the information presented can often be repetitive.
I rated this book a 4 because it does provide a lot of useful information about Johannes Kepler and his life and trials in Counter
...more
Corey
Really interesting so far. I'm enjoying the backdrop of theological wars, political madness, and social stuff (from ties to the effects of stupid human stuff like gossip) over scientific quests and the dawning of the age of reason.

He makes a similar point to Dav Sobel in "Galileo's Daughter" that men of science of the day were generally religious men who thought that their scientific learning were revealing the nature of god, and that academic and scientific debate took place most often in the c
...more
Jim Good
History of Johannes Kepler the mathematician who found the formula to prove the Copernican theory of a sun centered solar system using the ellipse as the proper form. Started with mars and worked the theory through all the known planets. The book is less about his science and math and more about his times being true start of the 30 years war and the counter-reformation. During all this, as Keplar was the emperor’s mathematician (primarily a post for astrology reasons), his mother is tried and co ...more
Valorie
There was so much I didnt know about that time period and what people had to go through to make any progress whatsoever in science or anything else. There was so much resistance and darkness to fight through. Kepler was so brave and had such integrity. I loved everything about this book from the historical setting about the thirty years war (which I knew nothing about) to the work that he did and the discoveries he helped to make.
Jerroleen
It starts out as quite a promising book, but loses focus after the witch trial. I felt that the title is a bit of false advertising, as the witch trial is a very small part of the story. Connor's prose is clear, but uninspired. I enjoyed it and learned a lot about the politics of the Thirty Years' War as well as the philosophy of astronomy during the 1600's. It's definitely worth reading.
Alison
Interesting history of the time and an interesting man who saw God through mathematics and astronomy. The chapters are interspersed with translations of Kepler's letters and journal. It is interesting to hear his own word or at leasat the author's translation of them. I didn't think that the writing was as good as Dava Sobel's Galileo's Daughter.
Jen
Looks like I gave this book only one star in the old book journal I used to keep, but I have good memories of it, and learned a lot about Kepler, so I've bumped that up to two. I do remember it as a bit of a painful read, and the title is way more exciting than the content. Still, I love Kepler so I plowed through it.
Lotte
Kepler's fascinating and unusual journey was dragged through this book nearly lifeless until it felt mundane. I look forward to finding a book about K. that makes me eager to turn the page rather than bound to snooze.
Gary Mccormack
Overall a good read. extremely disappointed with the ePub version of the book. There are no maps, portraits and other artifacts that grace the print edition. Feeling, once again cheated out of content.
Lise
I recommend this book highly!!!! Well researched and written. I couln't put this one down and would read it again. I was skeptical at first, as this is not a typical genre for me, but it is now.
Kathy
An interesting examination of Reformation/Scientific Revolution Europe. Faith is at the center of the book which is written by a former Jesuit.
Meen
Ooooh, this looks fascinating! I knew of Kepler's scientific importance from an Astronomy class, but nothing about his personal story.
Converse
Focuses on the life more than the astronomy of Kepler. Learned Lutherans excommunicated him.
Malini Sridharan
Extremely repetitive when discussing impersonal historical events. Otherwise, awesome.
Lora
Intense! Glad I read it!
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James A. Connor is the author of Kepler's Witch: An Astronomer's Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother and Silent Fire: Bringing the Spirituality of Silence to Everyday Life. A former Jesuit priest, Connor is professor of English at Kean University in Union, New Jersey; he has also held teaching posts at St. Louis University and Gonzag ...more
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