Thursday, March 22, 2018

Kepler’s Witch: An Astronomer's Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother by James A. Connor, 402 pages


  I read this book immediately after reading Galileo’s Daughter to round out my understanding of the times and world re-centering observations of two mathematicians whose work inspired each other during the early 17th Century.
  Johannes Kepler was a devout German Lutheran whose free-thinking, stubborn and conceited ways got him ex-communicated from the Lutheran church but respected (albeit with little pay and exiled from the country by the Catholic church) as a court expert. As the title alludes to, his intelligent hard-headedness likely came from his mother who was tried as a witch in spite of opportunities to apologize and potentially remove herself from harm. His mother, in spite of the book title, is a fairly minor character in this account.
  The biography was written well and kept my interest as the pages of Kepler’s life unfolded. I would have liked a little more straight chronology rather than the time-jumping and doubling back done by the narration, but perhaps the repetition required by the non-linear narration made me notice and better remember some of the more important aspects of Kepler’s influence on our understanding of cosmic order today.
  I’m glad I took the time to read and learn.

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