It is difficult to imagine a target readership for this book. If you are not academically inclined, the subject matter will not be interesting. If you are, then the material is too basic to hold your attention. Maybe it is for teenage children; maybe it is for people who learn their history from cable TV.
The narrator over-acts and has a voice that is mismatched to the material: the performance sounds like a trailer for a movie about someone who has stolen money from the Mafia. Quotes from other writers are delivered in an ironic tone of voice, as though the words are somehow funny or quaint, even when the subject matter suggests otherwise.
There is an additional problem for British readers: while some American accents are pleasant and transparent, this one isn't. It set my teeth on edge.
Readers on both sides of the Atlantic should avoid this audio book; British readers should run away screaming.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Clockwork Universe. It was full of humor, fascinating history, and interesting information about the scientific revolution. I liked the narrator's style and it felt like he was having a conversation with the listener. Excellent book and great stories to share with students, friends, or family.
Having read biographies of Newton, I had hoped that this would focus more on the Royal Society, but the author took a broader approach by reviewing the development of science leading up to the Royal Society and then spent most of the time reviewing Newton's life. I would have preferred more on the the History of Fishes and other more obscure stories from the period. The narrator has been criticized in some reviews, but I though he was fine for what he had to work with.
I am a Physics and Engineering student.
Isaac Newton lived in a time when the average lifespan was around 30 and people believed the Plague was a punishment from God. Well, the men of "The Royal Society" believed in God also; they believed him to be a Mathematician and that he commands the Universe following a set of Mathematical rules. Newton spent his whole life trying to figure these rules out and was pretty successful at it.
Dolnick gives a pretty well rounded history of Isaac Newton's work. Not too much to where it would have become boring, but enough to leave you satisfied or maybe even wanting some more. I fall into the wanting some more category and was sad when the book was done. I found this book to be intellectually stimulating and also found myself laughing at times.
The Narrator was a little above average, and definitely sufficient. The best quality he had was his ability to express the humorous parts. I guess I could even go as far as saying he made those parts more humorous and earned an extra star for that.
I definitely recommend this book. I am very happy that I bought it and would do it again if I could go back.
Bibliophile and student of life.
I suspect this book was written for folks who are relatively unfamiliar with the history of Newton's discoveries and involvement with the English Royal Society. The story timeline was jumpy, moving from early years to late, then back to early and late, again. Had I not already known this tale, I would have been pretty confused about the sequence of events after listening to this account. Additionally, the narrative was excessively repetitive. There are numerous wonderful books explaining the history of Newtons discoveries, but this one is not among them. However, the narrator does a fantastic job, the content was just poor.
This book is certainly a lot of fun for anyone with a passing interest in intellectual history in general, or the turn of the eighteenth century in England in specific. If you're already pretty versed in the beginnings of the Royal Society or the life of Isaac Newton, you probably won't learn very much, but Dolnick's handling of the subject matter is still engaging and makes it feel like you're listening to a story about some old friends. A great aspect of this book is that it pays particular attention to the interpersonal relationships between the great minds of the era. Newton's feuds could fill a book of their own, but this book handles some of the big ones rather neatly.
I would like to point out, however, that the reading is pretty grating. Alan Sklar certainly has a pleasant speaking voice, but his delivery of the material seems almost condescending at times. At several points in the narration, he actually chuckles while delivering some lines, and the result is that he comes across as holding the primary sources in contempt, whether that is actually true or not. Some of the great discoveries of that time have become practically cliché, but in their original context they deserve more respect than this reading gives them.
Still, this book is an enjoyable experience from start to finish. As someone who has researched this particular period fairly extensively, I didn't really learn much from it, but I enjoyed listening. I recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the Scientific Revolution, or what kind of man Sir Isaac Newton actually was.
This book is full of fascinating history and science. It reads more as a story rather than an historical reference, though. But having a hard copy version would be useful to refer back to for the sheer density of information. The author presents the material in a logical, well-organized manner with an entertaining style. The narrator, however, tended toward monotony now and again. Still, his diction was clear and the recording lacked any true quirky irritations.
Reading, the arts and physical activity clarify, explain, illustrate, and interpret life’s goods and bads.
The Clockwork Universe, by Edward Dolnick, narrated by Alan Sklar. The cursory story of the scientific and mathematical components of the renaissance.
This book was effectively delivered in three parts. First we were taught the medieval times left western civilization in ignorance. The populace was laden with myth, old wives’ tales, and superstition as its only learning. In other words, the western Europeans were in abject ignorance. The second part introduces us to some of the renaissance’s greatest thinkers, including Galileo, Newton and Leibnitz. None of that was particularly interesting, well written or of probative value. The final portion of the book explained some of the ingenious discoveries of those three prodigies and others. The explanation of Galileo’s perception of motion, Newton’s discovery of gravity, the components of light and calculus, and his competition with Leibnitz for genius of the time became a bit more interesting.
On whole a disappointment. Too little to make the read worth the undertaking. Yet, not too burdensome to read if one has nothing better to do and the subject matter is of interest.
A few curious men shared their interest and ideas and in doing so forever changed our understanding of the world. This is an entertaining look back at the building blocks of scientific inquiry and its impact on the modern world.