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Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla: Biography of a Genius | [Marc J. Seifer]

Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla: Biography of a Genius

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), credited as the inspiration for radio, robots, and even radar, has been called the patron saint of modern electricity. Based on original material and previously unavailable documents, this acclaimed book is the definitive biography of the man considered by many to be the founding father of modern electrical technology.
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Publisher's Summary

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), credited as the inspiration for radio, robots, and even radar, has been called the patron saint of modern electricity. Based on original material and previously unavailable documents, this acclaimed book is the definitive biography of the man considered by many to be the founding father of modern electrical technology. Among Tesla's creations were the channeling of alternating current, fluorescent and neon lighting, wireless telegraphy, and the giant turbines that harnessed the power of Niagara Falls.

©1996 Marc J. Seifer (P)2011 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Seifer's vivid, revelatory, exhaustively researched biography rescues pioneer inventor Nikola Tesla from cult status and restores him to his rightful place as a principal architect of the modern age." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (1285 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Peter Gundaroo, Australia 12-10-12
    Peter Gundaroo, Australia 12-10-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Gripping tale of Tesla's brilliant life and work."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Wizard to be better than the print version?

    Haven't read the print version. Audio would be hard to beat, especially as a way to absorb information while on a long trip. Never dull!


    What other book might you compare Wizard to and why?

    Isambard Kingdom Brunel, by LTC Rolt. Brunel's genius was as wide-ranging as Tesla's.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    My reaction was one of amazement at the scope of Tesla's achievements. An incredible life.


    Any additional comments?

    I strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the early years of technology.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brandon Bothell, WA, United States 12-05-12
    Brandon Bothell, WA, United States 12-05-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Great In-depth Bio of Tesla"

    Pros:
    Learn about all aspects of his life

    Cons:
    Got lost in some of the technical discussion on his inventions

    I picked this up to learn about a historical figure that I have heard contributed greatly to modern science but short of the Tesla coil I knew nothing about. The book took a deep dive into all aspects of his life and his projects. While I am not electrical engineer I was able to general understand his inventions, but got lost in some of the technical discussions.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dean 04-21-12
    Dean 04-21-12 Member Since 2009

    a Tech Exec who loves the stories about what could be and what should have been. Mixed with histories told from an outside perspective.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The inventor we owe so much to"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Reading about a man who changed soo much of our technology...for the sake exploration through invention. It is inspiring to consider he did so much, for the sake of doing it, not for the glory or money.


    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce Selzler San Jose, Ca 01-13-14
    Bruce Selzler San Jose, Ca 01-13-14 Member Since 2012

    SezWho

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A solid Biography of an Eccentric Genius"
    Would you listen to Wizard again? Why?

    Im not sure I would listen to this particular book, even though I thought it was excellent. However this book does inspire me to look into other good sources on Tesla.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Wizard?

    It would be hard to pinpoint a single event. However it was very interesting to view Tesla through the eyes of his contemporaries. And visa versa.


    What about Simon Prebble’s performance did you like?

    Good performance. A little dry, but appropriate for a biography. Clear and understandable.


    Any additional comments?

    Great book. Good performance. It can be a bit confusing as the author tends to pop back and forth in time however I still recommend the book for anyone remotely interested in Tesla and inventors in general.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronald Albury Cincinnati, OH USA 02-21-13
    Ronald Albury Cincinnati, OH USA 02-21-13 Member Since 2011
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    "A good historical account"

    I have always been interested in Tesla. I wanted to know more about his inventions, and to understand better why he has faded into history.

    This book fulfilled both desires. I learned a lot about his inventions (very interesting), and I learned that he was such an overblown stuffed shirt with a Messiah complex that people couldn't stand him. Frankly, I stopped the book with about an hour to go just because I disliked Tesla's personality so much.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl woodbridgeLaneWoodbridge, VA, United States 11-10-12
    Carl woodbridgeLaneWoodbridge, VA, United States 11-10-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Fascinating Yet Boring"
    Would you try another book from Marc J. Seifer and/or Simon Prebble?

    A well researched and exhaustive book on Nikola Tesla. I found the information about the inventor and his relationship with both Thomas Edison and Westinghouse fascinating. Also the extent of his ground breaking and original research in electric power, electric motors, radio and other technologies was interesting. Also the competition between inventors, patent wars, and claims of who was "first" was interesting as well.


    What could Marc J. Seifer have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Too much time is spent on Tesla's personal life and relationships with different luminaries of the time. Some of his relationships like those with Mark Twain are interesting and added color to the story. Others like Tesla's relationship really more of an acquaintance with Rudyard Kipling seemed to be more of name dropping than essential to the story.

    I found some of the cultural aspects like the fascination with life on Mars at the time interesting yet at the same time there was too much detail, and too many examples provided by the author. Much of the details provided seemed like overkill - I felt like I had already gotten the point and was being bludgeoned with additional trivia.


    What about Simon Prebble’s performance did you like?

    Simon Prebble does a good job in bringing color to the stories and the characters but all in all much of the book seemed repetitious and boring.


    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 03-24-13
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 03-24-13 Member Since 2012

    Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

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    "Complex Mind, Tragic Trust"

    I liked the book, but I could have done without the psychoanalysis. At one point, the author, Marc J. Seifer, a distant relative of Nikola Tesla, says that Tesla was a megalomaniac. That term has never been used by the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Wikipedia defines megalomania as, “Megalomania is a psychopathological disorder characterized by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, or omnipotence.’” Wikipedia goes on to describe one characteristic as an overestimation of one’s own powers.

    Tesla was not delusional. Tesla was powerful scientific mind, rivaling his one-time employer, Thomas Alva Edison; and unwillingly providing Gugliemo Marconi the foundation of wave generation and transmission that Marconi developed into long-distance radio transmission. Tesla wasn’t a dupe with respect to Marconi – Marconi used Tesla’s patents without acknowledging Tesla or compensating him. To some extent, Tesla was able to recover money in the Courts, but that was long after Marconi was awarded a Nobel Prize for Physics.

    Tesla was, however, naïve about finance. Given the opportunity to share business interests 50/50 with financier J.P. Morgan, Tesla insisted that Morgan have controlling interest, 51%. Tesla believed that Morgan would take care of him, and that he and Morgan had the same idealistic world view. Morgan must have believed that Tesla’s socialistic view of technology would lessen Morgan’s profits and powers, and he abandoned Tesla – even though Tesla’s earlier inventions were the basis of much of Morgan’s success. Perhaps Tesla, whom Seifer suspects was gay, was in love with Morgan when he gave Morgan control of a key part of his future.

    Tesla wasn’t always right. For example, he rejected Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, even though that supported Tesla’s much earlier discoveries about radio waves. At least, I think that’s what Seifer was saying. I didn’t understand about half the science in the book, but that’s because I lack the physics background. By analogy, Seifer’s transmission was fine; but the receiver was faulty.

    “Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla: Biography of a Genius” was an interesting listen. Tesla worked on developing technology, such as the wireless transmission of power, that is possible but not widely used. I liked “Wizard” because it opened the door to the future, as seen from the past.

    14 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay 02-07-15
    Jay 02-07-15 Member Since 2004
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    "Very Disappointing"

    I've been listening to Audible books for more than ten years and this is the first book I didn't finish. I think Tesla is an very interesting person and his achievements are pretty amazing but the pace of the story was very slow with lots of detail about the fights over patent rights to his inventions and his personal relationships with other scientists. There's also some Serb nationalism and a weird attempt at doing a psychoanalytic analysis of Tesla. Simon Prebble is a great narrator but he didn't have much to work with.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lorin 12-08-14
    Lorin 12-08-14
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    "The Man History Forgot"
    Would you listen to Wizard again? Why?

    Yes, because there are a lot of things to digest although very interesting.


    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoyed learning more about Tesla of course, but I also liked learning about his contemporaries and how there histories were interwoven.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    hili r. 11-17-14
    hili r. 11-17-14 Member Since 2014
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    "A biography that matches Tesla geniousity"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Highly informative, yet engaging, this biography is packed with physics and electricity details (I had to look up some of it), yet conveying the true Tesla story, as I see it, the way an inventor becomes an entrepreneur and communicates with investors. Tesla provides a lesson for life.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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