Newton and the Counterfeiter

Newton and the Counterfeiter

The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest Scientist

Book - 2009
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Houghton
In 1695, Isaac Newtonalready renowned as the greatest mind of his agemade a surprising career change. He left quiet Cambridge, where he had lived for thirty years and made his earth-shattering discoveries, and moved to London to take up the post of Warden of His Majesty’s Mint.

Newton was preceded to the city by a genius of another kind, the budding criminal William Chaloner. Thanks to his preternatural skills as a counterfeiter, Chaloner was rapidly rising in London’s highly competitive underworld, at a time when organized law enforcement was all but unknown and money in the modern sense was just coming into being. Then he crossed paths with the formidable new warden. In the courts and streets of Londonand amid the tremors of a world being transformed by the ideas Newton himself had set in motionthe two played out an epic game of cat and mouse.


A fascinating slice of true-crime history that unfolds in 1695, when law enforcement was unheard of and modern money was little more than a concept

When renowned scientist Isaac Newton took up the post of Warden of His Majesty’s Mint in London, another kind of genius—a preternaturally gifted counterfeiter named William Chaloner—had already taken up residence in the city, rising quickly in an unruly, competitive underworld. In the courts and streets of London, and amid the tremors of a world being transformed by ideas Newton himself had set in motion, Chaloner crosses paths with the formidable new warden. An epic game of cat and mouse ensues inNewton and the Counterfeiter, revealing for the first time that Newton was not only one of the greatest minds of his age, but also a remarkably intrepid investigator.



Baker & Taylor
In 1695, Isaac Newton, already renowned as the greatest mind of his age, made a surprising career move.

Baker
& Taylor

Reveals the seventeenth-century scientist's lesser-known historical contributions as a Warden for the king's mint in London, a career that was marked by the underworld dealings of master counterfeiter, William Chaloner.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, c2009
ISBN: 9780151012787
0151012784
Branch Call Number: 530.092 LEV
Characteristics: xii, 318 p. ;,22 cm.

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patcarstensen
Aug 01, 2016

The book takes a while to get to the crime story part -- it goes through the physics and the alchemy first. The book also covers a lot about 17th century monetary policy.

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hiking1957
Dec 06, 2012

Interesting. Showing a different side of Isaac Newton. This is definitely not one of the stories that I ever heard.

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hweinert
Sep 19, 2011

The scene is 17th-century London's pestilent underbelly, riddled with pickpockets and quack doctors, the stink and groans from the Tower of London, brothels and drunkards. Petty criminals are shaving the edges off coins and melting the silver. Counterfeit coins litter the circulating currency. A serious gambler runs London's Royal Mint. But in 1696, a new Warden of the Mint takes over, and, breaking out of the job description, goes about cleaning up the mess. His name is Sir Isaac Newton.

"Isaac Newton?" science writer Thomas Levenson rightly asks at the start of his new book. "What had the man who had brought order to the cosmos to do with crime and punishment, the flash world of London's gin houses and tenements, bad money and worse faith?"

That's exactly the question that's been simmering in Levenson's mind for a decade. And the result is this inventive biography with a healthy dose of page-turning detective drama. Writing with the sharp eye of a historian, Levenson pulls you into the unexamined life of this brilliant scientist-turned-dogged criminal investigator as he pursues the wily, counterfeiting con-artist William Chaloner.

London had no real police force or fingerprint records at the time. Newton alone had to gather enough evidence to condemn the man with a scheme to infiltrate the Mint. And he did so with no restraint, venturing disguised into London pubs to spy on Chaloner's associates. Down to the apostrophes from Newton's pen, it's a real-life thriller you don't need to be a history-buff to appreciate.

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