Home Authors Books Subjects Events Software Features Links Newsletter Gifts Blog Write Review What's New

Review - Isaac Newton - James Gleick


Visit bookshop

Newton makes a superb subject for popular science's blend of biography and science, and this is an excellent example. To this day, Newton remains incomparable in the breadth of his input to the development of science - plus he was a strange and complex character into the bargain.

We are, after all, talking about the man who not only pinned down the concept of gravity (and was the first to use the word in this context), but established the basic laws of motion, invented calculus, made wide-ranging discoveries on the nature of light, invented his reflecting telescope, etc. etc.

One of the reviewers on the cover of my (US) copy remarks that this is 'the biography of choice'. Actually, Newton is such a big subject that I have yet to come across a single popular science biography of the man that's big enough to really give the full picture. Gleick's relatively slim book gives a superb insight into Newton's physics and his pinnacle of achievement, the Principia. It is also very good on his work as Master of the Royal Mint and his theological oddities. But I found it strangely remote in terms of Newton's personality - a much better choice for that is White's The Last Sorcerer (which also covers his attempts in alchemy better). Similarly, Infinity makes a better job of untangling the calculus (Gleick doesn't even mention Bishop Berkeley, for example).

But don't take this as a negative. On the bits he does well, Gleick is the best around. This is a fine book and a very easy read. You just need to get more than one book to take in the scope of the truly remarkable Isaac Newton.

Also in hardback:                                           Also in audio:

   Visit bookshop Visit bookshop             Visit bookshop

Also in audio CD:

Visit bookshop

Reviewed by Brian Clegg


This site has no connection with Popular Science magazine or other sites and publications with a similar name.

Much of the content of this site is written by popular science writers or friends of popular science writers. Inevitably many of the reviews in such a small community are written by or about someone we know. We always aim to be impartial in our reviews, but there is a connection which we need make clear, as there is no intention to deceive. The content of any review or article is solely the opinion of the author and should not be read or understood on any other basis. The site exists to promote popular science writing and popular science authors and for this reason should be considered promotional material, just as the editorial reviews in an online bookshop or the blurb on the back of a book should be considered promotional.

The website should not be eaten or used where it can come into contact with water.

Disagree with our review? Want to comment on a feature? Contact us at info@ popularscience.co.uk - have your say!

Part of the Popular Science  site

Copyright Creativity Unleashed Limited 2005
Last update 05 June 2007