Fantasy & Beyond

A Book Forum for Speculative Fiction

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By Christopher C Fuchs
Newton and the Counterfeiter by Thomas Levenson was a fantastic book that puts you firmly in 17th century England while revealing a whole career of Newton’s that will surprise you.

Far from the studious and isolated mathematician that most people think of when they consider Newton’s life, this book shows him as a determined lawman who applied his peerless ingenuity and tireless work ethic to counterfeiters, their tangled networks, and their methods of copying the realm’s coins.

A well-written history that at times reads like a fast-paced mystery novel. The achievement of this book is providing a more complete view of the richness of Newton’s incredible life.

From a writer’s perspective, I got loads of ideas from this book on alchemy, early modern technology, materials, occupations, and more. Highly recommend!
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Some fave quotes/concepts from the book:

-- Newton’s “cat grew fat on the meals he forgot to eat” (p9)

-- Newton was “In the grip of nostalgia and old age” (p15)

-- London overflowed with “ever-renewing crowds of scrabbling poor.” (p51)

-- Someone that was convincing was said to use “tongue-pudding”. (p59)

-- “the perfect accomplice, broke and able”. (p167)

-- Newton eventually developed a suspicion that God did not exist. Newton’s reasons for pursuing alchemy included attempting to understand the nature of God (p80-81, 84-85). Over time, he “felt the chill of an increasingly Godless nature” (p81). “To paraphrase Albert Einstein, Newton wanted to know what choices God made when He created the world” (p91).
ScarletBea liked this