Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Review of 'Isaac Newton' by Mitch Stokes

“An apple fell on his head and he discovered gravity.” This is what many people think of when they think of the name Isaac Newton (and it is markedly untrue). There are so many more dimensions to this man than I had ever imagined. Part of Thomas Nelson Publishers “Christian Encounters” series, this book pleasantly weaves a tapestry of the life of Isaac Newton from the days of schoolyard fights to bickering over who really invented calculus. Sprinkled throughout are glimpses into his psyche, his work, and how others viewed him at the time. For a man most noted for his scientific and mathematical endeavors, he spent the second half of his career in pursuits that were markedly different from his days writing the Principia and building telescopes.

This book was thoroughly enjoyable. It was written well, avoided unnecessary scientific jargon that can sometimes fill biographies of great scientists, and contained a lot of information that I never knew about Sir Isaac. One of my beefs with non-fiction books is that if something is unknown, the author writes in such a way to make it seem as fact. Such obvious assumptions leave a bad taste in my mouth, because if an obvious unknown is presented as true, I question the validity of other statements. Mitch Stokes does none of this. If something is merely speculative, it is briefly mentioned and noted as such. The reader walks away with no false assumptions about certain obscure dimensions of Newton’s life. I only have one somewhat negative comment about this book. It is noted on the cover that Newton wrote more on theology and alchemy than on all other topics combined, but little of this is presented here. In an age where we assume scientists are non-believers, it was interesting to learn how devoted a Christian Newton was. I would have liked to have seen more from these writings than on his scientific works, as this seemed to be a big part of how the book was presented. Anyone reading this book to learn about Newton’s religious side might be a little disappointed in the lack of such information compared to the rest of the book. Overall, I would recommend it. It is a nice peek into the mind of a true genius.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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