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Edison: A Life of Invention | [Paul Israel]

Edison: A Life of Invention

Armed with unprecedented access to Edison's workshop diaries, notebooks, and letters, Israel brings fresh insights into how the inventor's creative mind worked. For the first time, much attention is devoted to his early family life in Ohio and Michigan, where the young Edison honed his entrepreneurial sense and eye for innovation as a newsstand owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. These experiences underscore the inventor's later successes with new resonance and pathos.
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Publisher's Summary

This portrait of Thomas Edison, history's most prolific inventor, introduces us to a man of genius and astounding foresight who established the prototype for today's think tanks and research firms. Paul Israel's ambitious work brightens the unexamined corners of a singularly influential and triumphant career in science.

Armed with unprecedented access to Edison's workshop diaries, notebooks, and letters, Israel brings fresh insights into how the inventor's creative mind worked. For the first time, much attention is devoted to his early family life in Ohio and Michigan, where the young Edison honed his entrepreneurial sense and eye for innovation as a newsstand owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. These experiences underscore the inventor's later successes with new resonance and pathos.

©1998 Paul Israel; (P)1999 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Exhaustively researched, with a strong emphasis on Edison's methods and achievements." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Israel draws on his subject's notebooks to provide an authoritative look into Edison's working methods, here leavened by enough personal detail to give the achievements shape." (Publishers Weekly)
"Israel has done a remarkable job. Not only has he given us fresh insights into a complex personality, but he has set this against the backdrop of a dramatically changing American society driven on remorselessly by the second Industrial Revolution, in which Edison was a pivotal player." (Nature)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

2.9 (36 )
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3.2 (12 )
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3.2 (10 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Michael Gilroy, CA, United States 10-16-07
    Michael Gilroy, CA, United States 10-16-07 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Worst narration ever"

    I've downloaded and listened to about 100 books from Audible, this was the worst narrated version. It also wasn't cleaned up well, several "end of cassette XX " bits not removed. It was obvious when one recording session ended and another began. The reader would toss in bad foriegn accents, not to differentiate between characters, but because the speaker was foreign or from Boston.

    The book itself was interesting, but very, very dry. I'm happy I listened to it, but I don't think I'd have made it to the end had I been reading it. With the audiobook I could 1/2 tune out and wait for another interesting bit to come along.

    As an engineer and inventor I'm glad I listened to it, but the mediocre performance really didn't help

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James F. Geary 01-04-07 Member Since 2003
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    "Technical Background Needed"

    Although the story of Edison is certainly fascinating, this book has extremely technical and detailed sections concerning the numerous (sometimes thousands) of experiments Edison completed before finding an acceptable solution to the many problems he endeavored to solve throughout his life. At times it can become mind numbing unless the listener is really interested in the process of inventing rather than the end result.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    llr Wimberley, Tx United States 12-09-06
    llr Wimberley, Tx United States 12-09-06 Member Since 2005
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    "For mechanical detail lovers"

    Compilation of great detail including his devices, names and financial dealings. Wish the author had gone beyond these accumulations to more observations about Edison the person. Although the book does provide a look at the inventor, it is focused on minutia, although not for people seeking details of the telegraph and that industry.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam IRVING, TX, United States 04-04-12
    Adam IRVING, TX, United States 04-04-12 Member Since 2005

    Adam

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    "ok book"

    I have bought many books and I have to admit that this is one of the few that I could have done without. There was some valuable information, but much of it was a combination of information that most with a basic understanding of history already know, and detail that few would find relevant. Unfortunately much of the book consisted of detail that I really didn't care for.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PT PA 03-08-14
    PT PA 03-08-14 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sample and Hold"
    What disappointed you about Edison?

    "How bad can it be? It's Edison, after all!" I said to myself.[Groan] It can be bad. From the first paragraph, I disliked the author's style. I ended up skipping most of Chapter One. Then most of Chapter Two. And most of Chapter Three. And then I bailed.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Paul Israel again?

    No, I can't imagine that. I found myself trying to rearrange, simplify, streamline the prose but to no avail.


    What about Raymond Todd’s performance did you like?

    He did a good job with difficult text.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Great disappointment. I'm sure it is all very factual and detailed but it is so pedantic that it reminds me why many of us disliked history textbooks when we were in school. The reading ease grade level must be around Grade 14, I'll bet. Well, I'm a fan of the Nuremberg Funnel, myself. I think reading can be fun.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm an experienced business and technical writer with a B.A. In journalism, so I am very sympathetic to the effort that must have gone into this book. I don't like leaving a negative review and I wish I could offer more positive comments. I suppose some people enjoy this (didactic?) style of presentation but it is too much for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas La Grange Park, IL, United States 06-04-13
    Thomas La Grange Park, IL, United States 06-04-13 Member Since 2010
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    "To Technical"

    The book was about his work in great boring detail. Not a true bio of the man

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 08-29-09
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 08-29-09 Member Since 2008

    College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wrongly titled"

    Should be: Mind-Numbing History of 1800's Electical Engineering

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wade Pike Road, AL, United States 03-07-09
    Wade Pike Road, AL, United States 03-07-09
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    "Disappointing"

    This was a very technical look at Edison's inventions, not so much about the man himself. I had recently read a book on Nikola Tesla and found it fascinating, so I wanted to find out more about his rival, Thomas Edison. To my disappointment, the author never mentions then name Tesla, much less the war of currents. This was a defining major event in both inventors lives, it is why we use AC electricity today. It is what shaped the electrical industry the world, and no mention. Also the author was very biased toward Edison. I am glad I listened but could have cut out about 2/3 of the book and got the same amount information.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rob Namp, ID, USA 04-22-08
    Rob Namp, ID, USA 04-22-08
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    "Draining"

    A rather depressing account of a seemingly unhappy life.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
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