Newton and the Counterfeiter

  • by Thomas Levenson
  • Narrated by Kevin Pariseau
  • 9 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In 1695, Isaac Newton, already renowned as the greatest mind of his age, made a surprising career change. He left quiet Cambridge, where he had lived for 30 years and made his earth-shattering discoveries, and moved to London to take up the post of Warden of His Majestys 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 London, and amid the tremors of a world being transformed by the ideas Newton himself had set in motion, the chase was on. This astonishing tale of Isaac Newton's journey from Cambridge's ivory tower to London's underworld will appeal to fans of The Professor and the Madman.


What the Critics Say

"Newton and the Counterfeiter humanizes a legend, transforming him into a Sherlock Holmes in pursuit of his own private Moriarity." (The Washington Post)

Best Books 2009 (Library Journal)

Best Books of 2009 (New York Magazine)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Terrific Historical Biography

I couldn't stop listening to this great biography. By putting such people as Locke and Halley into context, making the science (mostly) understandable, and discovering that Newton was one of the first great English detectives, makes this a must listen. The narrator does a fantastic job.
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- Megan

Not what I expected

The title of the book had me expecting a Sherlock Holmes vs Moriarty type of story featuring two brilliant antagonists. However, I was dissapointed to find that the story was more Javert vs Valjean than Holmes vs Moriarty.

First, a good third of the book provides a review of Newton's personal life and very brief mention of his scientific accomplishments. If you are unfamiliar with the life of Newton, you will find this interesting. If you are familiar with his story, you will find very little new information.

The title leads you to expect a story where Newton, as the Warden of the Treasury, is pitted against a counterfeiter. Although this is generally true, it is not the story of the Newton's great intelligence against a criminal mastermind. Newton used his position, to establish a network of informants and he used the law to convict a counterfeiter, Chaloner (a somewhat successful counterfeiter of coins). Chaloner was an agressive and brazen crminal, but hardly in Newton's intellectual class. The method of capture and his conviction was very 'ordinary' in nature.

Newton did not relish his role as a policeman but was compelled to carry out this aspect of his Warden's job. He did use his skills of thoroughness and logic to catch and convict but was hardly otherwise challenged.

There are better books about Newton and the 'detective' portion of the story was disappointing.
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- Stephen

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-01-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios