Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton by Richard S. WestfallThis is the most comprehensive book on any topic I have read in a long time. I wanted to know about Newton and boy do I ever now! The problem is that it is so extensive - exhaustive really. While the book does a great job detailing Sir Isaac Newtons life, the level of detail is beyond what most readers would care for.
In addition to detailing his accomplishments, setbacks, breakdowns and personality, Richard S. Westfall has gone to great lengths to talk about things like his fincances. For example, early in the book, in an attempt to illustrate that Newtons family was well off, the author spends a few pages detailing the incomes and holdings of many other people in the country at the time.
This level of detail may be welcomed by some readers, especially when devoted to such central matters as Newtons accomplishments in math and science. For most readers however, this level of detail is unecessary and unwelcome. I found myself skipping large protions of the book either because I didnt care (finances) or didnt know enough to understand it (the large portions of the book detailing his mathematical accomplishments).
There is another version of the book which is probably ideal for those of us who dont care about all of that extra stuff. The Life of Isaac Newton though it has a different title, is an abridged version of Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton and I kind of wish I had read that instead.
My final rating of three stars reflects my enjoyment of reading this book, not its quality as a scholarly text. It is a fantastic resource on Newton and for those especially well versed in physics and math, it is probably a must read. For the rest of us, my recommendation is to try The Life of Isaac Newton instead.
The Isaac Newton you don't know
Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton
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Bernard Cohen, Richard S. New York: Cambridge University Press.
write your own ticket with god
The Basic Library List Committee strongly recommends this book for acquisition by undergraduate mathematics libraries. Is he like other men? In fact, he worked obsessively on any topic that happened to grip his imagination — and he did so by forgoing friendships and more general social intercourse. And such traits were all too obvious in the scholarly disputes that pervaded much of his long working life. Much of his time and energy was spent in written argument with Leibniz, Robert Hooke and Flamsteed.