Faber & Faber £9.99 (318pp) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Newton and the Counterfeiter, By Thomas Levenson
By 1695, Isaac Newton was increasingly obsessed with odd theology but the towering genius was called on to solve a national crisis. Due to coin-clipping and forgery, His Majesty's coinage was increasingly debased.
Appointed Warden of the Royal Mint, he organised the Great Recoinage, a restamping of England's silver money. Though making £15,000 of coins per week was thought unattainable, he attained that three times over.
Equally importantly, he hunted the counterfeiters who threatened his efforts. In a duel reminiscent of Holmes versus Moriarty, he pursued William Chaloner, a forger who had ambitions to take over the Mint himself. The forger's road to Tyburn is a fascinating story, brilliantly told.
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