Book review: Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton Reveal’d, by Mary Losure

Losure, Mary. Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton Reveal’d. Candlewick. 2017. $19.99. 163p. ISBN 978-0-7636 -7063-4. Ages 12-15. P5Q9

Considered by many to be on the forefront of scientific advancement, Newton, one of the greatest scientists of all time, actually based his exploration on magic, studying alchemy that was supposed to create gold from other metals. Always a loner and self-taught, he so carefully observed the world around him that he figured out the laws of motion that provide the foundation to an understanding of the physical world.

Verdict: Historical details and perceptions of human behavior enhance a biography about a person about much is not known. Illustrations include engravings and pages from Newton’s notes lighten the sometimes heavy text. Interesting pieces include his tasting poisonous mercury in experiments that should have killed the man who lived to an old age for that time. The English mathematician, astronomer, and physicist died in 1727 at the age of 84. Back matter provides excerpts from his journals with other texts of the time as well as the author’s note explaining how she researched these primary sources. This is a book that adults would also enjoy.

March 2017 review by Nel Ward.


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