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5.0 out of 5 stars Newton and the Counterfeiter, Thomas Levenson. A fascinating look at a neglected period of Newton's life
When someone mentions Sir Isaac Newton, you immediately think of the father of science, the three laws of motion, apples and gravity, modern mathematics, the principle of optics, chemistry, theology etc, etc, etc. But what did he do after he had revolutionised modern thinking? It turns out he became the Warden of the Mint, responsible for guaranteeing the value of the...
Published on 26 Sep 2009 by Victor

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A very slight tale, though interesting about the times.
Late in life, Sir Isaac Newton, left Cambridge and took a job as head of the Mint in London. Part of his job was to combat counterfeiters, and the story of Newton tracking one particular counterfeiter is the basis of this book. The author makes much of Newton's dogged pursuit of his quarry and his ruthlessness in condemning this man to jail. There seems to be general...
Published on 2 May 2012 by Hugh Claffey


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4.0 out of 5 stars Good on Newton, 7 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Newton and the Counterfeiter (Paperback)
This is an excellent book at the start. It is well written and enjoyable to read and provides a fascinating summary of Newton's career. It also explains well the issues around the currency problems of the time and how they impacted on the wider economy. Where it falls down is the section about how he caught the counterfeiter himself, which is really rather dull. It also strays into the gratuitous when considering issues of torture and execution, when he unnecessarily describes practices that hadn't been used for decades (he cites a book from the London Dungeon in the bibliography, which says it all really). It then returns to form for the epilogue rounding out Newton's career.

So not perfect but very good and well worth reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars New Insight, 26 Dec 2013
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I have read many books about Newton but found this one to be more insightful than many and gave insight into the financial situation at the time as well as a new perspective on Newton. An easy but informative read
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4.0 out of 5 stars Listened to this story on Radio 4 when the book was a hard cover., 7 Aug 2013
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This book lived up to expectations and provided a a perfect balance between historical fact and the development of a contest between counterfeiter and Issac Newton in his role as Head the Royal Mint.

It is a fascinating story full of intrigue and cameos of the life of the last man who knew everything.

Highly recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Who knew that Newton was a detective as well as a genius scientist? Serious but phenomenally interesting read!, 29 July 2013
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Who would suspect that Newton, man who proved that the Earth orbits around the Sun and wrote stuff that we all have to learn Bout at school, was also a detective? And that he worked as a boss of the Royal Mint at the Tower of London? Phenomenally structured, full of information about the times and snippets of knowledge worth QI question, this is one of the best books I read about eighteenth century. And proof that not all scientists are boring. Although Newton actually was...
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5.0 out of 5 stars A new light on a famous man, 26 July 2013
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Mature Student (Ipswich, Suffolk) - See all my reviews
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This book cast a fascinating new light on one of history's most famous men. We all know of Newton as a ground-breaking scientist, but how many people know of him as a detective? Thomas Levenson shows how Newton tracked down counterfeiters in his role as head of the Royal Mint. Believe me, if you were a criminal, you really would not want Newton on your case!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, 9 Aug 2012
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Like other reviewers I felt this book started well and Newton's genius is not up for discussion. However, this book represents nothing more than a chapter of a biography. Newton and his so-called nemisis is a complete miss-match.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A different side of Isaac Newton, 14 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Newton and the Counterfeiter (Paperback)
The fact that we are introduced to a part of Newton's life to which few have paid attention, is probably the biggest pull to this book. I would not say this is a gripping story, though. There is not much tension or drama in it. The author has tried to pull more out of the battle between Newton and Chaloner than there really was. Newton's "deadly struggle" with Chaloner was really only deadly for Chaloner, who risked being caught and executed for counterfeiting. As for Newton, it was all part of the job. However, it's an interesting read from a historical perspective. For those with an interest in the subject, but little background, this book provides a glimpse into some of the monetary troubles facing England in the late 17th century and the beginnings of the use of paper money. Basically, it's a look at Newton's successful time at the Royal Mint. And for all that, the book has done a great job. The brief biography of Newton in the first half of the book is worth reading, and I found particularly fascinating Newton's fervent wish to "prove" G-d through alchemy. An interesting subject worth further reading. Readers should just be forewarned that, although it's a good story, it's by no means a thriller. But that shouldn't discourage anyone from picking it up, for after all, it's an enjoyable little book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 13 Aug 2011
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After reading the reviews for this book I thought I was in for a treat. However, I was disappointed when I finished the book. As a biography of Newton this book reads well and I enjoyed the first part of it. However, as a detective story it does not read as well as it could have. It sincerly confirms the fact that Newton was a certified genius and i cant argue with that.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, slow delivery, 10 Jan 2011
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Mr. Robert P. Morley "Robert P" (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Newton and the Counterfeiter (Paperback)
Excellent book, informative and very interesting - glad that I purchased it. Certainly has provided a side of Newton not often portrayed plus a quick insight of the lives of other scientists of that period, who were peers of Newton.
However, the book took nearly 3 weeks to be delivered (OK I appreciate snow and Christmas was a problem for a few days but still should have been here before Christmas and not at the end of the first full week of January).
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4.0 out of 5 stars What you didn't know about Newton, 13 Oct 2010
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This review is from: Newton and the Counterfeiter (Paperback)
Ok, so you might have vaguely heard that Newton became Warden of the Royal Mint... but Levenson's book does a remarkable job at explaining what this transition meant for Newton, and also the context of the melt-down (metaphorically and literally) of British currency at the time due to industrial-scale counterfeiting.

The book is very readable (except for the extensive quotations from documentation of the time), and makes a thought-provoking link between Newton's interest in alchemy and why he may have seen counterfeiting as such an unforgiveable crime, and pursued it with such rigour. Recommended.
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Newton and the Counterfeiter
Newton and the Counterfeiter by Thomas Levenson (Paperback - 5 Aug 2010)
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