Nikola Tesla was a major contributor to the electrical revolution that transformed daily life at the turn of the 20th century. His inventions, patents, and theoretical work formed the basis of modern AC electricity, and contributed to the development of radio and television. Like his competitor Thomas Edison, Tesla was one of America's first celebrity scientists, enjoying the company of New York high society and dazzling the likes of Mark Twain with his electrical demonstrations. An astute self-promoter and gifted showman, he cultivated a public image of the eccentric genius. Even at the end of his life when he was living in poverty, Tesla still attracted reporters to his annual birthday interview, regaling them with claims that he had invented a particle-beam weapon capable of bringing down enemy aircraft.
Plenty of biographies glamorize Tesla and his eccentricities, but until now none has carefully examined what, how, and why he invented. In this groundbreaking book, W. Bernard Carlson demystifies the legendary inventor, placing him within the cultural and technological context of his time, and focusing on his inventions themselves as well as the creation and maintenance of his celebrity. Drawing on original documents from Tesla's private and public life, Carlson shows how he was an "idealist" inventor who sought the perfect experimental realization of a great idea or principle, and who skillfully sold his inventions to the public through mythmaking and illusion.
This major biography sheds new light on Tesla's visionary approach to invention and the business strategies behind his most important technological breakthroughs.
©2013 Princeton University Press (P)2013 Audible Inc.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I have read everything I can get my hands on about Tesla. I first learned of him during my course work at University. The basic unit of magnetic field is named after him. He developed alternating current, radio transmission and FM radio, wireless transmission of electrical power; he was ahead of Roentgen in the invention of photographic process of producing x-ray. He is known for the Tesla coil, induction motor, rotary transformers, high frequency alternators, the Tesla oscillator and many more. This is the newest biographical book on Tesla. The book covers both the biographical life of Tesla but goes into greater detail about the technical aspects of his invention and theoretical work. In fact it could be titled the history of electricity in the 19th and early 20th century. The author takes the reader into the scientific mindset of the 19th century and compares it today. The book is objective and even handed about Tesla’s accomplishments and life. I find this objectivity critical to any book about Tesla as in recent decades he has been mythologized in the public imagination. The author goes into great detail about the various ways inventions are created by inventors and why some need marketing to create a demand and others do not. Professor Carlson also explained that Tesla like many inventors needed a business person to keep him focus on feasible inventions and provided the financial backing and marketing. Unfortunately for Tesla the key business man in his life died when Tesla was at his peak and Tesla was never able to replace him. But the patent attorney stayed with him for years. I enjoyed reading this book; it gave me an excellent understanding of Tesla’s inventions and theories. A caution to those readers that are less technically inclined this book is heavy into technical detail but written in an understanding way. I particularly enjoyed the last two chapters of the book, I thought Carlson did an excellent job of summarizing all the data he presented and his notes by various books about Tesla are helpful. Tesla’s work has pioneered the way for many inventions in the past few decades that we take for granted. He was a man ahead of his time. Allan Robertson did an excellent job in narrating the book.
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