Friday, May 27, 2011

Galileo (Christian Encounters Series), by Mitch Stokes


An account of Galileo's life, work, and beliefs, with particular emphasis on his interactions with the Church--his attitude toward the Church, and the Church's somewhat inconsistent reactions to his research and ideas. Most notably, Stokes claims that Galileo never intended to rebel against the Church, but saw himself as a devoted Catholic and was constantly surprised by the violence with which his writings and teaching were opposed.

Informative, to be sure. But Stokes can't seem to make up his mind whether he's writing a serious biography or a more lighthearted account of Galileo's life and work. I enjoy the writer-as-storyteller trope, but Stokes comes across as unable to decide whether he wants to insert his own voice into the book. The result is choppy and disconnected writing--at times Stokes presents a straightforward historical account, at other times a humorous commentary on the events. The presentation of those events, too, is full of stops and starts; it lacks a smooth story arc. Which, of course, is true of history, but need not be true of biographical accounts of that history. The book seems to be well-researched, and in the hands of a better writer it could have been much stronger and more compelling.

Also, I confess that after a while, all the (extremely similar) Italian names started to run together. Which is no fault of Stokes', though I suppose a more skillful author might have offered more assistance to the reader in wrestling with the long list of characters in Galileo's story.

Bottom line: I know more about Galileo now than I did before, but I didn't necessarily enjoy the process overmuch.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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