Man Who Knew Everything, The Share this with a friend

The Strange Life of Athanasius Kircher

by Marilee Peters
illustrated by Roxanna Bikadoroff

The Year’s Best List, Resource Links Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre Green Book Festival Award

Even the man who knew everything was wrong some of the time.

Athanasius Kircher, a 17th-century German Jesuit and scientist, was one of the modern world’s first scientific celebrities—the Einstein or Stephen Hawking of his time. In 1638, Kircher was lowered into the smoking crater of Mt. Vesuvius to observe how volcanoes work. After thirty years, he published an eight hundred-page volume of his findings—along with theories about fossils, geography, the Earth’s core, dragons, the location of the lost city of Atlantis, and more. Kircher has been described as the last Renaissance man, the first postmodernist, and “the man who knew everything.” This biography celebrates Kircher’s insatiable curiosity, his willingness to ask questions and to suggest answers, even when he sometimes got it wrong. The dramatic story of Kircher’s life is complemented by illustrations that combine a fresh cartoon style with full-color re-creations of seventeenth-century etchings.


“Engaging and funny, this biography uses history to think critically about how knowledge is found. A winning addition to nonfiction collections.”
—School Library Journal, 09/01/17

“A colorful figure in the history of science whose ‘misses’ are as entertaining and instructive as his ‘hits.’”
—Kirkus Reviews, 08/15/17

“Peters does an excellent job of calling attention to the changing face of science over history.”
—Booklist, 11/15/17

“Peters clearly has enormous enthusiasm for Kircher . . . [and] Bikadoroff brings a fitting visual approach to such an eccentric subject.”
—Quill & Quire, 01/18

“An ideal book for a wide range of readers.”
—Resource Links, 12/17

“A little irreverent, a lot of details and a general impression of something innovative.”
—CanLit for Little Canadians, 11/16/17

“An interesting and well-illustrated biography.”
—I Heart Literacy, 10/13/17

“A really fun read, and I loved the illustrations by Roxanna Bikadoroff.”
—Brain Shrapnel, 11/19/17

“This biography celebrates Kircher’s insatiable curiosity.”
—Best Books for Kids and Teens, Spring/18

“Well written and researched.”
—Sharon the Librarian, 05/20/19