God’s Philosophers PBK – press release
How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science
£9.99 ● Paperback ● ISBN 978-184831-150-3
PUBLICATION DATE May 2010
SHORTLISTED FOR THE ROYAL SOCIETY PRIZE FOR SCIENCE BOOKS 2010
“[A] spirited jaunt through centuries of scientific development… captures the wonder of the medieval world: its inspirational curiosity and its engaging strangeness.” The Sunday Times
“Hannam… gives us a great sense of the porousness of the medieval mind…. A very useful general survey of a difficult topic, and a robust defence of an unfairly maligned age.” The Spectator
“This book contains much valuable material summarised with commendable no-nonsense clarity… James Hannam has done a fine job of knocking down an old caricature.” Sunday Telegraph
‘Wonderful… with engaging fervour, James Hannam has set about rescuing the reputation of a bunch of half-forgotten thinkers, and he shows how they paved the way for modern science.’
Boris Johnson, Mail on Sunday
‘‘… a well-researched, fluently written account of a fascinating period in western intellectual history. This is a rewarding read and its author wears his considerable learning lightly…. the best parts of this book are a triumph’ The Catholic Herald
GOD’S PHILOSOPHERS is narrative history on a rescue mission, as debut author, James Hannam moves delicately through six centuries of history in an effort to uncover the unknown story of medieval scientific discovery.
GOD’S PHILOSOPHERS reveals the Medieval Age to be a fast-paced era of rapid technological change, responsible for inventions that would change the world forever. As well as inventing spectacles, the mechanical clock, and windmills, medieval scholars worked to refine pre-existing Eastern inventions. This prolific period saw the creation of the compass, the printing press, and gunpowder: three inventions that would eventually lead to the discovery of the Americas, the explosion of public literature, and the dramatic evolution of military methods.
GOD’S PHILOSOPHERS does for the medieval period what Richard Holmes’ bestselling book, Age of Wonder did for the Enlightenment. Hannam draws the reader into an impeccably researched narrative history through his intimate portrayals of real men. He revives the forgotten philosophers, scientists, scholars and inventors of medieval Europe, returning to their lives with a wonderful immediacy that brings their often tragic stories to life. The dust is swept away from history, as Hannam tells us of the tragic love affair of Abelard and Heloise, the burning of the astrologer Cecco D’Ascoli, and the trial of Galileo.
In his determination to discuss these men as products of their own time, Hannam allows us to see how their sometimes spectacularly off-the-mark or fantastical science are actually the results of reasonable, logical, and even admirable processes. Hannam looks seriously at magic, astronomy, and alchemy as being important cornerstones in the development of medieval approaches to medicine and mathematics.
Most controversially, GOD’S PHILOSOPHERS seeks to debunk the popular belief that the Church restricted scientific enquiry and development in the medieval era. The Inquisition burnt nobody for their heretical science, no Pope tried to ban human dissection, and the Church did not attempt to remove the number zero from the mathematical chart.
It was, however, a time of great upheaval and changes, as a diverse group of men tried to negotiate a space where both faith and reason could collaborate, where being religious did not necessitate the sacrificing of intellectual integrity, and where God’s Philosophers could finally exist.
DR. JAMES HANNAM was educated at Oxford and Cambridge where he studied physics and then the history of science. For further information, visit the author’s website www.jameshannam.com which receives up to 40,000 page views a month.
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