The perfect birthday shopping gift! When you want something really worthwhile to read and expand your mind at the same time, take this book. It's a biopgraphy with a quality you see rarely: comprehensive, thorough, very clearly written, on high-quality paper, and all this of one of the great enigmas of science (but in my humble opinion: he is THE greatest). I was hooked right from page one. The size of the book mirrors his awesome achievements: it's a vast tome, almost a 1000 pages. Not one of these was boring. Each page harbored yet new vistas. When I had finished the book, I was left with the small pain of having said goodbye to an old (!) friend. For not only his achievements were discussed, the all too human man behind it all was also portrayed, giving an intimate view of not only the scientist, but also of the sometimes jealous, eager, callous, friendly, etc, man who was Isaac Newton as a person.
All in all it kept me wondering: how on Earth was one man alone able to grow to such great heights, and especially during such a backward age (mid-1600s). Well, perhaps these two well-known citations from Newton himself are true after all: 'I was standing on the shoulders of giants' (he must have been truly modest then) and, also explaining the book's title, '[..] he that is able to reason nimbly and judiciously [..] is never at rest [..] [in his mind]'.
The book gave me some small challenges also. What I missed a bit was an Old English pronounciation list. There was many a citation from Newton's original work or letters, which I really liked. For me though, not quite used to reading in Old English, it took me quite some time to understand the olden English words judiciously used there, e.g. ye=the, wch=which, wt=with, etc (about 20 words in total). It made reading sometime a bit difficult, but after a while I got the knack of it.
After having read the book I was immensely enriched in my appreciation for this little great man. Too bad there are so few good books like these.
My next two books will be Newton's 'Principia' and 'Opticks', both still very worthwhile reads, even after more than 300 years (!). (But so is Shakespeare.)