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A cogent portrayal of the beginnings of modern science and a turning point in the evolution of the freedom of thought.Celebrated, controversial, condemned, Galileo Galilei is a seminal figure in the history of science. Both Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein credit him as the first modern scientist. His 1633 trial before the Holy Office of the Inquisition is the prime drama in the history of the conflict between science and religion. In Galileo’s day, Rome was the capital of a sovereign theocratic power, which in 1600 had executed Giordano Bruno on similar charges and reserved the right to torture Galileo. Galileo was then sixty-nine years old and the most venerated scientist in Italy. Although subscribing to an anti-literalist view of the Bible, as per Saint Augustine, Galileo considered himself a believing Catholic. Playing to his own strengths—a deep knowledge of Italy, a longstanding interest in Renaissance and Baroque lore—Dan Hofstadter explains apparent paradoxes and limns this historic moment in the widest cultural context, portraying Galileo as both humanist and scientist.