Renaissance Genius

Renaissance Genius cover

Author: David Whitehouse
Publisher: Sterling Publishing
Price: £16.99
Format: Hardback
Rating: 4

Four hundred years ago, Galileo Galilei observed points of light close to Jupiter and concluded that they were satellites of the giant planet.

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It was a momentous achievement.

This and Galileo’s other discoveries – features on the Moon and the phases of Venus – are well known.

But Renaissance Genius, subtitled ‘Galileo Galilei and his legacy to modern science’, presents the famous astronomer in a fresh way, thanks to author David Whitehouse’s storehouse of astronomical knowledge.

The book is strong on Galileo’s personal and family life.

Whitehouse paints Galileo as a lifelong scientific innovator, much as his father Vincenzo had been in music.

He also looks at his long argument with the Catholic Church over the Earth being the static centre of the Universe.

The author has engaged deeply with the political and religious landscape of the time, and his account is a gripping one.

On the flip side, the book suffers from a false start.

The first sentence mistakenly states that Galileo died in 1633, not 1642.

There are other errors too, including spelling mistakes and captions that don’t match the pictures they describe, which sadly detract from the historical detail and captivating storytelling.

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There’s no doubt, though, that this book will be widely enjoyed. With a wealth of contemporary artistic and scientific illustrations, it will appeal to anyone wanting to delve deeper into the life of the man responsible more than any other for the birth of astronomy.


Martin Ince is an astronomy writer and author of The Rough Guide To The Earth