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Isaac Newton

Narrated by: Allan Corduner
Length: 5 hrs and 45 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Summary

James Gleick has long been fascinated by the making of science: how ideas order visible appearances, how equations can give meaning to molecular and stellar phenomena, how theories can transform what we see. In Chaos, he chronicled the emergence of a new way of looking at dynamic systems; in Genius, he portrayed the wondrous dimensions of Richard Feymnan's mind. Now, in Isaac Newton, he gives us the story of the scientist who, above all others, embodied humanity's quest to unveil the hidden forces that constitute the physical world.

In this original, sweeping, and intimate biography, Gleick moves between a comprehensive historical portrait and a dramatic focus on Newton's significant letters and unpublished notebooks to illuminate the real importance of his work in physics, in optics, and in calculus. He makes us see the old intuitive, alchemical universe out of which Newton's mathematics first arose and shows us how Newton's ideas have altered all forms of understanding from history to philosophy. And he gives us a moving account of the conflicting impulses that pulled at this man's heart: his quiet longings, his rage, his secrecy, the extraordinary subtleties of a personality that were mirrored in the invisible forces he first identified as the building blocks of science. More than biography, more than history, more than science, Isaac Newton tells us how, through the mind of one man, we have come to know our place in the cosmos.

©2003 James Gleick (P)2003 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Gleick renders a wonderful impression of the icon's mind." (Booklist)
"Allan Corduner's narration is a pleasure to listen to." (AudioFile)
"The extraordinary breadth of Newton's interests is brilliantly delineated by Gleick. Newton the man emerges from the shadows." (The New York Times Book Review)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Steven
  • 28-08-05

I thought it was good

I do not agree with the previous reviewers. The author brought the personality and presence of Newton out in the only way one could--through meticulous research. The confllicts between Newton and Hook, and the descriptions of a man viewing the world in ways none before him could were very facinating and I listened to the book twice to hear the story again. If you are interested in genius and particularly mathematics and physics and how a great man of learning dealt with his genius in his own time, you will enjoy this book.

I will say that I have not read the author's other works, so I can't compare to them. But if they are better as the previous reviewers have indicated then I'm going to give them a listen also.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew
  • 25-05-05

BRUTAL

I am a fan of Gleick's work and of science writing in general, but this book is, unfortunately, a fumble. Newton the man is quite fascinating but rather than explicating on his personality Gleick elects to focus on a few interminable intellectual grudges that the godfather of physics held against his contemporaries. It becomes a real yawn after an hour, and then by hour three I was heavily regretting having downloaded this horrible, horrible book. How can someone make such an interesting topic so dull? If you are a fan of Chaos or Genius, Gleick's two best titles, know that you will get none of the rich weave of characters, history, and incisive explanations of scientific discoveries and their significance that you may have come to expect. Pass on this and download Bill Bryson's a Short History of Nearly Everything instead. You'll learn more about Newton that way, and get more bang for your buck.

48 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kermit
  • 18-02-06

His real life

After reading so many myths about the man behind the legend, this was very refreshing. Newton is revealed for the first time with all of his flaws and a more indepth look at his real accomplishments. The book is well written and shows the level of research that was involved. Having established an negative outlook on the scintific value of Newton's discoveries, this volume has restored some of the merits of just how remarkable of a personage as he was.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Tim
  • 04-08-05

I must agree . . . . .

I must agree with "ironhands" - this is a horrible book. I couldn't make it to the end of the second disk before I gave up. Only the second audiobook out of nearly 80 that I have not finished once I started.

The book seems disjointed with very little concept of flow. What should have been a fascinating book on a fascinating man was a real disappointment. There is more coherent information on Newton in many other books by audible ("The Fabric of the Cosmos" for example).

A real lost opportunity.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Narek
  • 08-04-15

Great general biography of Newton

I came into this book only knowing that an apple fell on Newtons head. The book expanded my knowledge on a lot of Newtons contributions including a broad understanding of Orbits, Light, and Gravity. Gleick portrays Newton as a real person and I enjoyed understanding who that person was, what his struggles were, and how he overcame them with considerable success. Learning about his struggles and secretive ways intrigued me the most. Great book, would recommend to anyone who wants to learn about Newton if they don't know much already.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Juha
  • 24-06-14

Semi god who was just a half human?

What made the experience of listening to Isaac Newton the most enjoyable?

Newtons character and life is so interesting. Being simultaneusly the greatest scientist ever and one of the most pityfull character is always a great puzzlement for me

Who was your favorite character and why?

Oldenburg because he was a good "diplomat"

What does Allan Corduner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I love audiobooks since it is so enjoyble to be able to do something else (go shopping/cleaning...) but I can't pin point what Corduner contributed. I suppouse one really notices is the reader is bad --> Corduner has to be in my opinion good.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Newton being so full of hate and vile as to make "ananymous" letters defending himself.

Any additional comments?

Isaac Newton is such character that any book written on him is bound to be interesting.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Christopher
  • 01-06-07

well worth reading

An excellent read. Concise, sympathetic, and interesting. Well researched and presented. I thoroughly enjoyed the narration. I will be listening to this book again. Five stars from me.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Eric
  • 26-02-20

The last of the Magicians

Only 6 hours or so long this expertly crafted biography focuses on the intellectual achievements of Newton with less focus on his personal life. A good balance in my opinion.

Recommended for anyone who wants to be guided through a world where the concepts of Gravity and Physics were mysterious and vague. To learn about the one Keynes called “not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians”.

Also recommended for fans of James Gleick, one of the premier writers on the natural world and the history of its study who is writing today. The narration by Allan Corduner is perfect. I’m glad they chose to have it narrated by an English actor rather than American.

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  • Mark D. Schnittman
  • 24-01-18

Great read

This book has the feeling of more of a painted picture than a book. The incredible amount of research is mind boggling. Recommended.

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  • MG
  • 21-05-17

Good but Brief overview of Newton's career

Not much personal material. I would have liked an attempt to reconcile his many passions: optics, gravity, mechanics, religion, coinage, governance (royal society) et al. Illustrations would have helped. overall, I would recommend this title.