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The Man Who Knew Everything - The Strange Life of Athanasius Kircher

The Man Who Knew Everything

The Strange Life of Athanasius Kircher

Interest Age: 9–12
Grade: 5–8
Reading Level: Common Core Correlations
CCSS.ELA-Literacy Strand-Reading literature: RI.5.1,2,3,4,5,6,8,10

Reading Level: Lexile 980L
Hardcover : 9781554519743, 60 pages, October 2017 , 10.0" x 8.0"
Paperback : 9781554519736, 60 pages, October 2017 , 10.0" x 8.0"


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

The Man Who Knew Everything is a biography of Athanasius Kircher, a 17th-century German Jesuit and scientist. He 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 800-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.” The Man Who Knew Everything celebrates Kircher’s insatiable curiosity, his willingness to ask questions and to suggest answers, even when he sometimes got it wrong.

Peters’ dramatic re-telling of Kircher’s life is complemented by colorized versions of his etchings, and lively illustrations by the award-winning artist, Roxanna Bikadoroff.


“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

“A really fun read, and I loved the illustrations by Roxanna Bikadoroff.” 

- Brain Shrapnel, 11/19/17

“A little irreverent, a lot of details and a general impression of something innovative.” 

- CanLit for Little Canadians, 11/16/17

“An ideal book for a wide range of readers.”

- Resource Links, 12/17

“Peters clearly has enormous enthusiasm for Kircher . . . [and] Bikadoroff brings a fitting visual approach to such an eccentric subject.” 

- Quill & Quire, 01/18

“This biography celebrates Kircher’s insatiable curiosity.” 

- Best Books for Kids and Teens, Spring/18