From Kirkus Reviews
A condensed version of Westfall's 1981 biography of Newton, Never at Rest (priced at $100 and not reviewed), that nevertheless displays a high level of scholarship and detail. Westfall (History and Philosophy of Science/Indiana University) clearly has pored over the letters and papers that accumulated over Newton's 83-year lifetime (1642-1727), including the theological and alchemical writings as well as the all- important Opticks and Principia. There's a presumption that the reader appreciates the revolution in science wrought by Newton, and the fundamental philosophical disputes between him and his contemporaries: Newton raging against the Cartesians with all their hypothetical and vortex-ridden speculations in contrast to his own theory-grounded-in-experiment approach. But while one can acknowledge the genius that was Newton, not even Westfall--with his consummate understanding, fair-mindedness, and sympathy--can make the man lovable. There are of course, the circumstances of the scientist's life: His father died before he was born, and, when he was three, his mother remarried, leaving the boy to be raised by his maternal grandparents. Without undue emphasis on Freud, Westfall makes clear that such beginnings contributed to the loneliness and isolation, the neuroses, obsessions, and paranoia that characterized the life. The maligning of Robert Hooke, the undermining of the astronomer Flamsteed, and the vicious attack on Leibniz over priority in the invention of calculus add nothing to Newton's luster. Still, the scientist mellowed in the end. He presided over the Royal Society, gained income from his position at the Mint, was generous to his many relatives, and enjoyed the company of his remarkable niece in his house in London. On his deathbed, Newton refused the sacraments, confirming his lifelong anti-Trinitarianism (which could not otherwise be revealed in public). An altogether admirable job of scholarship, whose weightiness is balanced by the surfacing, from time to time, of Westfall's dry humor. (Six halftones; nine line drawings.) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Beyond this survey of Newton's life and significance we also are treated to a summary of contemporary scholarship on many aspects of Newton's multifaceted career. And it is a delight to read!" The Reader's Review
"An altogether admirable job of scholarship, whose weightiness is balanced by the surfacing...of Westfall's dry humor." Kirkus Reviews
"The Life of Issac Newton...is a servicable volume...widely read by a public curious about Newton's life." Michael Hunter, Times Literary Supplement
"...a lively and lucid expositor of Newton's ideas and he has written an excellent book for those who want an authoritative introduction to Newton but do not have the time or the inclination to wrestle with the finer points of his mathematics." William R. Shea, Nature
"Westfall's account of his subject's personal life is gratifyingly elegant and precise....In bringing the truth of Newton's life to a wider audience, Westfall has certainly succeeded." Peg Padnos, Wilson Library Bulletin
"...Westfall is a master, and apart from the original, no better or more comprehensive introduction to Newton's life and work is to be had." J. McClellan III, Steven's Institute of Technology
"...the very smoothness of his prose commends this abbreviated version to physicists as well as to lay persons....I commend to you the great wealth of information contained in Westfall's work." American Journal of Physics
"Richard Westfall has admirably succeeded in demolishing the plaster saint and revealing, probably as much as one can ever hope to do, Newton the man. The portrait he paints shows someone who could be brutal and spiteful,...someone who was secretive to the point of paranoia; and had few if any friends in his life....This story is recounted in fluent and gripping prose by the author who deserves the Leo Gershoy Award, an American Historical award for his efforts." J. Langins, Applied Mechanics Review
"...author Westfall has effectively reduced his longer 1980 biography of Newton to a size that is more suitable for general audiences....strongly recommended." Doug Carmichael, Science Books & Films
"Westfall made it his business in writing Never at Rest to examine all the Newton manuscripts currently available for scholarly study...He speaks with authority about them all, offering his own interpretation of the importance of the theological papers (one that greatly advances our understanding of them) and also of the place of alchemy in Newton's work. He manages to make both Newton's alchemy and his religious interests seem integral to the story of Newton's life while keeping the scientific work in focus, an approach that offers the reader both breadth and the modern perspective on Newton's importance." B.J.T. Dobbs, ISIS of alch