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The Life of Isaac Newton (Canto original series) Paperback – July 29, 1994
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From Kirkus Reviews
"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
Top Customer Reviews
A thorough research of the life and work of one of the greatest geniuses who ever lived, if not the greatest, Westfall paints a vivid picture of the life of Newton from childhood to old age. He describes Newton as not only a scientific genius, but as the person who revolutionized science, and thus influenced the way of thinking, and indeed the way of modern life.
Newton, to be sure, was not an easy person to live with, nor was he a perfect human being. All this however pales in comparison to his superior intellect and deep understanding of nature. The book gives ample accounting of Newton's two great works "Opticks" and "Principia" and how these two have influenced the world he lived in, and the effects they left forever since.
This book is a necessary reading not only for those interested in science, but for all who want to have a glimpse into the way of life in the 16th and 17th centuries, and especially the way science and philosophy spread throughout the world.
Portland, OR 2002
Aside from the historiographical issues in this book, if it is to serve as an introduction to early modern science, it might also help readers to know that they should read, at some point, some sort of text that deals with British history from the Sixteenth through Eighteenth centuries, as Wesfall provides no historical or political background in which to understand Newton. Based on my own reading of books to suit this purpose I would recommend Simon Schama's "History of Britain, vol. 2"; "Leviathan and the Air-pump" by Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer; "Leviathan" by Thomas Hobbes, or "The Scientific Revolution" also by Steven Shapin (which would be less of a cultural or political history but a good introduction to the issues with history of science in the seventeenth century).Read more ›
The perceptible difference is in the tone. Early on in the book, especially, Westfall adopts an almost sycophantic attitude to Newton's genius, constantly assessing each event in terms of whether it demonstrates the great man's ability, and nudging us knowingly when other thinkers have not recognised this towering intellect before he has published anything. I'm not sure a (non-revisionist) writer setting out to write Newton's biography today would adopt such an attitude, and would hopefully be more inclined to tell the story and let the events speak for themselves.
Happily, as the book goes on and Newton's talent is recognised we are given a glimpse of the man himself, and it truly is a fascinating vision. I found Newton's obsession with alchemy and the Holy Trinity (which, for him, represented the Beast of Revelation) even more fascinating than his work on optics and gravitation. Newton comes across as a man of almost aspergic obsessiveness and aversion to engage in normal social interactions, one who set terrifyingly high standards, both intellectual and moral, which only he, working prodigiously in a position many treated as a sinecure, could ever hope to aspire to.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have learned a lot of interesting history of Newton. It shows how hard it must have been to be sooo smart as he was.Published on April 5, 2014 by Michael Kempel
It would be hard to find fault with the genuis of Newton's creations in mathematics, physics and the reflecting telescope. Read morePublished on October 4, 2010 by Joseph A Olson, PE
This is a well documented, well written biography of a powerful intellect who nevertheless had his idiosyncrasies and insecurities. Read morePublished on February 22, 2010 by Whoa!
Newton has been a fascinating figure for me, ever since I read a condensed history about him in one of those INTRODUCTION TO series, I think that one was on Quantum Physics. Read morePublished on July 24, 2006 by MrSherlockHolmes
This book tells us Isaac Newton in detail. It tells us about his life as a man, philosopher, theologian, alchemist, scientist and public figure. Read morePublished on March 31, 2005 by Galih
This book was very enjoyable and a great source of information. I did not know much about the Jewish Holidays before reading this book. Read morePublished on December 10, 2004 by Ken Foster
I couldn't agree with reviewer #1 more! As a doctoral engineer, I thought I knew everything about that greatest scientist that ever lived. But I was wrong. Read morePublished on September 22, 1999 by Laurence R. Welch, Ph.D. (email@example.com)