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
"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)
Communication with Mars
Tricked by Marconi
I wish I had the talent to invent product that could change the world
His attempts to mimic the voice of historical characters is cartoonish and sometimes distracting. It would work well in a piece of fiction, but not so much in a biography.
I have been listening to American history subjects like the Brooklyn bridge and transcontinental railroad, and this is also great American history, but it includes too many readings of letters and details that stop being interesting halfway through the book. Now I am slogging through the rest of it hoping he dies soon!
Note: I only listened to the first part (~6 hours!) because I just couldn't bear wasting any more time on this book.
As a scientist myself, I love stories that tell the history and life of a scientist. I picked up this book thinking it would be a great story of triumph and innovation and would be told as if Tesla was overcoming being overshadowed by the other greats of the day (Edison, etc.). But...it was told by a family member of Tesla and seemed like the family were whining about the lack of attention Tesla got during his time for the inventions and innovation he brought to modern society.
There is WAY too much detail and it was hard to follow and pay attention to it for long stretches. I was hoping for an "underdog" story after sensing the tone of the author from the beginning, but it just continued to drone on and the tone never seemed to change to the positive.
To discover a story that everybody should know. Tesla turns out to be as influential to modern living as any other name you could come up with from the array of geniuses of our past. Probably more.
If you think Mr Edison, Einstein, Newton, Galileo, Marconi or Hertz were "legends", you'll struggle to find a word for Nicola Tesla.
M J Seifer, with his extensive research on the wizard and his associates, does a very good job of uncovering truths before not beheld.
Mr Prebble's tone and style suits the historical context and general mood of this book very well indeed.
Learning of the injustices that Mr Tesla had to face was very touching.
After reading this, trust me, you'll be compelled to tell everybody about this man.
abridged would have been much less painful
Not sure, but this will be put away unfinished.
Never listened to him before. His voice and style got me through the first few chapters, but there is a limit to how much a reader can make up for bad text.
So much of the book was spent on scientific detail rather than Tesla's life. I know it would be hard to separate the two completely, but it is difficult to listen to so much detail.
In fairness, this is outside my normal listen. However, I am often happily surprised by books that are out of my normal range. This was a very unhappy surprise. At least itt was on sale.
Almost at the very beginning the author attempts to tell the history of the Balkans and all involved nations - and makes a horrible job at it. The history narrated is largely in-factual and told from a very strict Serb point of view - the same narrative used when they launched aggressive wars in early 90s.While Tesla's background as a Serb born in rural Croatia may be interesting to mention in the context of his childhood, the centuries before he was born are not relevant to tell the story of this great man.
This book intends to be the definitive work on the life of Nikola Tesla, and it undoubtedly succeeds. I'm glad I learned about the man through this book, although the storytelling is disjointed, since it's told in an unusual kind of non-chronological order. The overall telling is chronological, but the author jumps back and forth in time without being clear that he's doing it. It would have been simple to let the reader know that background material was being provided, but usually he just launches into the backstory without any cues. It can be quite confusing.
Another odd aspect of the book is the exhaustive detail that's given to ancillary characters, such as those that Tesla was trying to court as investors, even though they never actually became involved in his business ventures.
One significantly disappointing part of the book is its vagueness regarding the Supreme Court decision that upheld the precedence of some of Tesla's radio-transmission patents. There are countless references to the decision, as well as several courtroom vignettes, but no very clear specifics on what was actually decided.
On the up side, I loved the detail regarding Tesla's famous, never-completed tower, which he constructed with funds misappropriated from J. P. Morgan. It's a sad thing for all of us that he never got the chance to fire that sucker up!
Wizard is a very good biography but could have easily been edited down by half. It just gets into too much minutia that bogs the story. This is not a "Tesla was the greatest" book, it is honest in his failings and personality disorders. But there were times my attention wandered and I did not feel like I missed anything.
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