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Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton (Cambridge Paperback Library) 17th Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0521274357
ISBN-10: 0521274354
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The hallmarks are impeccable detail and clarity...The copious footnotes, for example, generally refer to original manuscripts, letters and memoranda that are out of reach of most students and scholars. The superb quality of this book promises to give it a prominent place in the modern scholarly literature about Isaac Newton." David L. Heiserman, Science Books & Films

"Although there have been other biographies of Newton in the past, this is the first one to be based on an extensive use of the manuscript sources. It is more than merely the biography of a man and an account of the development of his ideas. It is a fundamental resource work on the Scientific Revolution, a work that should be on the shelves of every scholar interested in the main currents of ideas of the seventeenth century or any aspects of the early history of modern science." American Historical Review

"...this biography is to be applauded and recommended...we must all read Westfall's biography and admire it..." Eighteenth-Century Studies

"...fills a decided gap in modern history of science and stands in the very first rank of our advancing understanding of one of the world's greatest geniuses...we must all owe an incalculable scholarly debt to this outstanding book. Westfall's confrontation with Newton's manuscripts, an act of historical integrity that involved sustained and arduous labour for many years, opens up dimensions of Newton's restless genius which we had never before suspected." Ambix

"This must be one of the best biographies ever penned." Spaceflight

"Here at last is a Newton in whom we can believe...In short, this is as complete a biography as modern scholarship can provide." The Observatory

"No private library of an educated person should be without it on the shelf." Industrial Mathematics

Book Description

Destined to become the standard biography of Isaac Newton, this meticulously detailed work is focused on his scientific career, but also deals with every facet of his life. It presents an encompassing picture of Newton--the man, scientist, philosopher, theologian and public figure.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Paperback Library
  • Paperback: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 17th edition (April 29, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521274354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521274357
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #738,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
A first rate biography should include a good description of the important achievements of the subject, give a good sense of the subject's personality, provide the appropriate historic context in which to view the subject, be well written, and have good documentation. Westfall's biography of Newton is first-rate in all these dimensions. Newton is arguably the most important person in modern history. His work inaugurates both modern mathematics and modern physics. His achievements as a physicist set the pattern not only for physics but also for the other natural sciences. Newton's impact in larger culture extended also beyond the world of sciences. The historian of religion George Marsden wrote that Newton was the most important individual in the founding of the 18th century Enlightenment. Though Newton cannot be considered a member of that movement, his example of demonstrating universal natural laws understandable by human reason was immensely influential in European intellectual culture.

Westfall provides a detailed chronological account of Newton's life that covers all his major (and minor) achievements and is simply excellent at integrating the relevant historical background information. As Westfall writes, we regard Newton as a scientist and the emphasis in on Newton's career as a working scientist and mathematician. But, this is described very clearly within the context of late 17th century Europe. Westfall, for example, devotes ample pages to Newton's study of alchemy and theology. Since Newton spent a large fraction of his life working in these areas, it would be imposing an anachronistic perspective to minimize attention to these topics. Westfall is excellent at describing both the intellectual and social milieu in which Newton functioned.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
A comprehensive yet clearly written biography spanning every facet of the life of one of the worlds true geniuses. Compelling from beginning to end this book combines extensive research with a passion to provide an insight into both the work and personal life of Newton. Whilst other work may need to be consulted by the most mathematically minded, readers with a yearning for an insight into Newton's discoveries will generally be pleased at the detail provided. My only critism would be that this very large tome came to an end. Purchasers should be aware that at over 900 pages the paperback version of this book will require careful treatment if it is to survive.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By John C. Landon on October 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
There are a fair number of Newton biographies, this one is the most comprehensive and thorough, with a full treatment of the development of Newton's scientific and mathematical thought. What is remarkable is how rapidly Newton mastered the essentials of the techniques of his contemporaries, quietly reaching the forefront of knowledge, this in a few years, and without much prior training before his arrival in the world of Cambridge, where he flowered at once despite the almost defunct educational status of this university. The myth, however, of the annus mirabilis needs replacement with the reality of the anni mirabili, next to the near abandonment of mathematics for some years as Newton's concerns passed to encompass something broader than pure physics and his deskdrawer 'calculus' still embedded in geometrical formalisms. The final composition of the Principia in the wake of the coaxing forth of De Motu is grounds for thunderous applause for Halley who had the presence of mind to grasp who he was dealing with and the politic manner needed to communicate/negotiate with the reclusive prime mover of theory. His great work complete Newton is off to rescue the coinage at the Royal Mint,thence to the forgettable episodes of the priority quarrel with Leibniz. This work is slow but superb on all aspects of Newton's life.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a remarkable biography because it so thoroughly tells the story of Sir Isaac Newton in all its various aspects. Newton's determination to know, his science (breathtaking science, his awesome brilliance), the religious and alchemical investigations, the cranky aloofness, are all carefully and fully drawn; by the end of the book, you feel, along with the author, that you have got to know the subject (at least to the extent one might get to know the great man).
This is a great biography, because it is so detailed, so in depth and so successful at bringing Newton in view. It is also likely that it will for many years surpass any other biography of Newton because of its thoroughness.
I think it is worth reading not only because the reader learns so much about the science and life of one of history's great thinkers, and to some extent how he thought, but also because the reader gains an appreciation of the hard work of invention even for one so gifted as Newton, and some insight into the hard work of turning observations into theoretical constructs.
A magnificent biography.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By ericross on March 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is in the same class as Ray Monk's Wittgenstein biography or Martin Gilbert's Churchill.
I couldn't put it down until I was at the back page, many dozens of hours after I began!
It left me exhausted but enriched!
This sets a standard by which the modern science biography should be judged.
Westfall says something to the effect that the more you know about a person, the closer you get to them, but in Newton's case, the more we learn, the more mysterious he becomes.
You won't be disappointed.
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