While there have been many books on Galileo, no other work has brought together such a complete description of the historical context in its political, cultural, philosophical, religious, scientific and personal aspects like this new volume. In addition to covering the whole of Galileo's life, it focusses on those things which are most pertinent to the Galileo affair - his condemnation by the Inquisition in 1633 - without delving in areas too far from it. (And no math required.)
It also includes a full historical discussion of the relationship between religion and science in general and of the relationship between Christianity and science in particular, which most books on Galileo do minimally, without which a true understanding of the affair is much weakened. This discussion of the relationship of Christianity with science-- a long, generally positive relationship-- is most timely since the case of Galileo is, as many historians and Pope Benedict XVI have stated, the beginning of the alienation of the Church from much of intellectual culture which is a big part of our present age. The "warfare between science and religion" is an old saw that should finally be retired, but for many it is still axiomatic.
This work also shows the significance of astrology in the history of society and the Church (Galileo himself a master astrologer), the importance of the internal tensions and factions within the Roman Curia, and of the profound battles within the Church among its intellectual and cultural leadership over the direction of the Church in a time of uncertainty and intellectual and cultural ferment. The Galileo Affair is not just of its time and place, and it is not just about Galileo, but it touches upon that perennial issue of how the Church deals with issues of adaptation and change.