Newton and the Counterfeiter: more reviews

They’re starting to come in, with all the existential dread that each one offers in prospect.  It’s both exciting and terrifying to let the outcome of one’s intense effort for years go out, undefended onto the sea of critical review.

I’ll talk a bit about this part of the experience in the next Diary of a Trade Book post (previous entries here, here, and here), but for now, I’ll confine myself to noting that in the first review I saw yesterday, New Scientist managed to combine both an on-balance quite positive notice with exactly the kind of commentary that gnaws at a writer (this writer).  Theirs was the kind that gave points for a number of things — what they saw as really new in the book (an account of Newton as an economic thinker, for one) and the rigor of the work (they called it meticulously researched, which soothes the soul a bit), but also complained about some of the bits I like best — and it is in the nature of authors to remember only the cavils.

But that’s why we have horse races, of course, and I’ll take up my substantive disagreement with a couple of points the author of that review made in a separate post.  And anyway, as my publicist pointed out, in this review-starved era, such a prompt and informative notice in a major publication can’t be bad.

But it ain’t nearly as much fun as the piece that crossed the wire later in the day.  New York Magazine’s May 25 issue includes their “What to Read This Summer” feature.  First up for June, is Newton and the Counterfeiter.  I’m not sure what their view of wholesale quotation may be, so until I can check, I’ll confine myself to reporting my glee at reading phrases like this one:

“Levenson gives us a historical metamorphosis you’d never believe if it weren’t so well documented:  Isaac Newton — the antisocial human calculator who revolutionized Enlightenment science– as badass London supercop.”

Now why can’t I write like that….;) 

I also liked this remark:  “The plot is fast, loaded with rich pockets of history (gravity, alchemy, bubonic plague*) and strangely resonant with current affairs:  Imagine Stephen Hawking solving the global financial meltdown while catching Ponzi schemers.”

That’s what we writer types call a keeper.  Thanks, New York.

Image:  William Blake, “Newton,” 1795

Explore posts in the same categories: History of Science, Newton and the Counterfeiter, Self-aggrandizement

4 Comments on “Newton and the Counterfeiter: more reviews”

  1. Michelle Says:

    “antisocial human calculator… badass London supercop.”

    Are you sure you didn’t write a biography of Sherlock Holmes? 😉

    Seriously, congrats. A NY Mag What to Read callout? That’s fantastic! Looking forward to reading it myself.


  2. Congratulations, Tom! Can’t wait to read the book … it’s a good thing it’s going to be summer soon.

  3. BCC Says:

    I’m rather enjoying living through your experiences vicariously.

    Best of luck!


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