Harvey's Heart

Andrew Gregory

Read January 2003

A superb little book that answers the intriguing question of how Harvey discovered blood circulation (without cutting open healthy subjects!). It points out that 1543 should be considered a seminal year for science because it saw the publication of not only Copernicus but also Vesalius. Gregory then shows how Harvey was able to exploit the revolution induced by Vesalius's questioning of Galen. Befitting a professor and historian of science, the book provides satisfying accounts of Harvey's brilliant experiments—which were both qualitative and quantitative—and leaps of intuition. The illustrations (from original texts?) are delectable. Gregory has an axe to grind about whether Harvey could be considered a modern scientist (he couldn't, Gregory argues). There is an intriguing exchange between Harvey and his contemporary Descartes; the Royalist Harvey bests the Frenchman, whose philosophical prejudices keep him from recognizing the power of Harvey's work. Highly recommended.