THERE HAVE BEEN many biographies of Isaac Newton. Indeed, for more than twenty years there has been a near-definitive one, in the shape of Richard Westfall's authoritative, meticulously researched and elegantly narrated 900-page Never at Rest, still available, and unmatched in the narrative coherence it gives to the minutiae of Newton's life and thought. James Gleick, however, is no ordinary biographer, and his Isaac Newton will, I think, set a new benchmark for our understanding of Newton the man.
Gleick is a prize-winning popular-science writer, with a keen understanding of the place of science in the modern world, and the ability to make its technicalities vivid and immediate for a lay audience. For him, Newton has always been much more than a ground-breaking mathematician and scientist. Newton is the