In 1543, the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus lay on his deathbed, his just-published masterpiece 'On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Sphere' in his hands. At that time, religious doctrine and common sense dictated that the earth ruled the universe, with the sun, moon, planets, and stars all rotating around it. By putting the sun at the centre of that cosmology, his book fomented another kind of revolutions -- a scientific one that would lead to a completely new view of the universe, and humanity's place in it.
As contemporary cosmologists explore the universe's vastness and the nearly insignificant role we play in it, the repercussions from Copernicus' radical step continue to resound. With the energetic prose and powerful intelligence for which he is known, William T Vollmann provides and enlightening and readable explication not only of Copernicus' book but also of Copernicus' epoch and the momentous clash between the two.