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 Christianson has sifted through the historical documents and accounts of Newton to paint a convincing and intelligent picture of the complex and at times irascible genius.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.