Isaac Newton: And the Scientific Revolution (Oxford Portraits in Science) Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195120806
ISBN-10: 0195120809
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  • Length: 160 pages
  • Age Level: 12 and up
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up. This is not just a great biography?it's one of the best-written science books around for young people. Christianson has sifted through the historical documents and accounts of Newton to paint a convincing and intelligent picture of the complex and at times irascible genius. Even more remarkable, the biographical portrait he presents is a compelling story. It begins with a beheading?that of Charles I?and ends with the poetic image of visitors to Newton's gravesite pausing "in silent tribute to the sacred permanence of the dead." The author demonstrates a remarkable sense of Newton and his times. For example, while many other biographers struggle to explain his experiments in alchemy, Christianson puts them in context of the great scientist trying to unravel the mysteries of the atomic world with the best tools available to him. The narrative also shows how Newton changed as he grew older: from a young, intense, reclusive academic to a living legend justifiably vain about his reputation. Reproductions of documents, Newton's sketches, and paintings of well-known figures illustrate this fine book.?Alan Newman, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Scientific American

Born early on Christmas morning of 1642, his illiterate father recently dead, Isaac Newton was raised by his grandmother. His life was fed by his vigorous mind and hands; the lonely boy read widely and filled his days with skywatching, kites, sundials, carving and model making. He attended boarding school near his home, ranking second to last among 80 students, but he graduated at 18 the star of the school and went on to the University of Cambridge. A new college graduate, his genius yet unrecognized, he returned home at age 22, after the university was closed by the coming of plague. For almost two years, he worked alone, establishing the modern methods and much of the matter of theoretical physics for two centuries: the ideas of the calculus, its application to motion for apple and moon alike, gravitation made semiquantitative and perhaps universal, and the nature of white light and color. The resemblance to the young Einstein at the Patent Office in Bern is evident; the human differences between Newton, without wife or nearby friends, and Einstein's happier world are manifest. Less a scientific biography than a personal one, it does not try to popularize Newton's physics. Of course, it includes his entire career, his litigious rivalries, his work style, so secretive and shy, and his voluminous accomplishments, until a complex emotional breakdown took him away to official London at age 52. Newton died wealthy and celebrated, even rather less lonely through his niece, a famous beauty, and her slightly scandalous high-society circle.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3529 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (June 4, 1998)
  • Publication Date: September 16, 1996
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000QGDV7M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,507,705 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jaewoo Kim VINE VOICE on March 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As the meager 160 pages indicates, this book does not dig deeply into Newton's life or his works.

It does a good job, however, of covering the gist of his life.

During his 84 years, Newton accomplished much. But I wanted to know what made Newton what he was. How did he become so profoundly engrossed in math and physics? What drove him? Why was he such a loner? What gave him such tremendous propensity for hard work?

Newton's psychology, upbringing, and development as a foremost intellect of his time (perhaps of all time) are covered only superficially.

Newton also never married but was honored with the highest distinction and awe. Many justifiably looked upon him as an intellectual titan without peers.

I thought there was much to his life besides facts and anecdotes. Too bad this book never goes much beyond that.

There is humor spread throughout this book. I was left chuckling a few times.

Overall, I recommend this book. This book is like a deluxe Wikipedia version of Newton's life. It won't set the standard for biographical excellence, but it is still a entertaining and fascinating read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a well-written overview of the life of Newton in a compact form. Gale Christianson presents a coherent, well-substantiated, and persuasive portrait of the personality of the great physicist, together with an informed and balanced discussion of the several family members and contemporaries -- at the university, academy of science, and court-with whom Newton lived. Christianson has condensed the findings of his 1984 biography of Newton, "In the Presence of the Creator" (New York: Free Press; London: Collier Macmillan), but employed the lighter touch of his book of essays, "Writing Lives Is the Devil! Essays of a Biographer at Work" (Archon, 1993), in framing Newton's life within the contemporary events of English history, an approach suitable for "the general public," the term used by Oxford U.P. to characterize the intended reader.

Awkwardly, the first chapter begins with a dramatic account of the execution of Charles I in 1649, which is followed immediately by a non-sequitur: "Woolsthorpe Manor [Newton's birthplace]... was a lonely place seven years before the king's death" (p. 11). Happily, however, the account soon displays some sympathetic honesty: the boy nursed a grudge for having been separated from his mother, and he did well in his schoolwork only after the boy immediately above him in academic rank kicked him in the stomach. He left for the university with a girlfriend waiting behind in Grantham.

Much the best aspect of this book is its informed treatment of controversial aspects of Newton's personal life.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My son picked out this book for an assigned biography project (grade 5). He enjoyed the book and has gotten excited about researching Newton's work and legacy. It is accessible without dumbing things down, and it tells a compelling story without adding fluff or questionable conjecture. A great book for older kids who are interested in science, history, technology, math, and more.
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Format: Paperback
I have never read a biography quite as good as this. This book has some of the best descriptions of Newton that I've ever heard: "Like Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton was not just an aimless childhood tinkerer, but a tinkerer playing with ideas and mechanisms." It has so many interesting details about his life, such as the jumping contest at school, or the many different clocks that he made. This book made me realize that Newton wasn't just a great scientist, but a political figure as well, with a seat in Parliment, head of the Royal Society, and Director of the Mint. If it is possible, Cristianson would be my nominee for the Pulitzer Prize.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this biography for its depth and fascinating insight into the perplexing and most complicated life of Isaac Newton. What an interesting and extremely devoted man. He immersed himself in science to the exclusion of nearly all other interests and relationships, and found himself very alone in his pursuits. However, as most men and women of powerful intellect, he was driven by the need to prove his theories and to understand the Creator's world.

Christianson explores Newton's deep Christian feelings and beliefs, his political ideas, and his scientific discoveries and controversies with extraordinary precision and elegant language. This is definitely the best biography I have read this year (2007). I'm so glad I invested the time and money in this glorious and inspiring biography of a never-to-be-forgotten genius!
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