Isaac Newton by James Gleick

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Isaac Newton was born in a stone farmhouse in 1642, fatherless and unwanted by his mother. When he died in London in 1727 he was so renowned he was given a state funeral—an unheard-of honor for a subject whose achievements were in the realm of the intellect. During the years he was an irascible presence at Trinity College, Cambridge, Newton imagined properties of nature and gave them names—mass, gravity, velocity—things our science now takes for granted. Inspired by Aristotle, spurred on by Galileo’s discoveries and the philosophy of Descartes, Newton grasped the intangible and dared to take its measure, a leap of the mind unparalleled in his generation.

James Gleick, the author of Chaos and Genius, and one of the most acclaimed science writers of his generation, brings the reader into Newton’s reclusive life and provides startlingly clear explanations of the concepts that changed forever our perception of bodies, rest, and motion—ideas so basic to the twenty-first century, it can truly be said: We are all Newtonians.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About James Gleick

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James Gleick ( was born in New York City in 1954. He worked for ten years as an editor and reporter for The New York Times, founded an early Internet portal, the Pipeline, and wrote three previous books: Chaos, Genius, and Faster. His latest book Isaac Newton is available from Pantheon. He lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with his wife.
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Computers & Technology, Science & Math, Arts & Photography, Nature & Wildlife. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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For all his faults, Gleick notes, Newton’s legacy is clear: “He bequeathed to science, that institution in its throes of birth, a research program, practical and open-ended.” Engaging, concise biography of a monumental visionary and eccentric whose life was as remarkable as the universe he strug...

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The New York Times

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The comparative lack of personal detail and the complexity of his thought have thwarted potential biographers: Richard Westfall, who in 1982 produced what comes closest to being called the ''standard'' scientific account of Newton, wrote that ''the more I have studied him, the more Newton has rec...

Jun 15 2003 | Read Full Review of Isaac Newton

The Guardian

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Isaac Newton by James Gleick Fourth Estate £15, pp289 There are two inescapable conclusions to be drawn from Isaac Newton's life: that he was a prodigious genius of unsurpassed talent and a crazed ingrate of venomous self-obsession.

Sep 07 2003 | Read Full Review of Isaac Newton

The Guardian

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Isaac Newton by James Gleick 288pp, Fourth Estate, £15 The term "lonely genius" could have been coined for Isaac Newton.

Aug 30 2003 | Read Full Review of Isaac Newton

Publishers Weekly

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While his attention to historical detail is impressive, Gleick's narrative aims somewhere between academic and popular history, and his take on Newton feels a bit at arms-length, only matching the vibrancy of his Feynman biography at moments (particularly when describing Newton's disputes with su...

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