Mitch Stokes
Thomas Nelson, 2011

When I saw this available for review on BookSneeze, I jumped at the chance. Ever since my college Astronomy classes, I've loved Galileo, and this biography seemed like something right up my alley.

Galileo covers the life and experiences of Galileo Galilei - the famed astronomer who revolutionized science and human understanding. It's a quick, easy read that takes readers on an accelerated journey through Galileo's life, from birth to death to reconciliation with the Catholic church.Needless to say, this is a lot of territory to cover in a smallish 213-page volume, especially considering the attention and details required to fully explain Galileo's scientific discoveries and contributions. Have no fear, however: Stokes has a very informal style, that makes reading Galileo less like trudging through a biography and more like picking up a "long magazine" or something similar. While some of the science and math discussed is very advanced, it's not presented in a way that intimidates or confuses. (This isn't a text book, after all). And if you have a background in science and/or math, it's that much of an easier, more enjoyable read.

I only had two minor problems with the book, first being the tone - and I realize this is purely a personal preference, and quite probably a result of my professional training. At times the informality of Stokes' writing style felt too informal, with too many personal opinions and interjections. The other issue I'm not sure how to label...At times, I felt as if I was reading a literature review of all the existing biographies on Galileo, but with a definite emphasis placed on finding religious meaning. Chalk this one up to all those history classes, but if you're going to make a claim, I need to see the primary evidence backing it - not just what someone else has said before.

Those two issues aside, I feel like Galileo definitely meets the goal of the Christian Encounters series, which is to "highlight important lives from all ages and areas of the Church through prose as accessible and concise as it is personal and engaging" (front flap). This is the first Christian Encounters biography I've read, but I look forward to reading more.

Book provided by publisher for review.

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