• The Inventor and the Tycoon

  • A Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures
  • By: Edward Ball
  • Narrated by: John H. Mayer
  • Length: 15 hrs and 19 mins
  • 3.7 out of 5 stars (72 ratings)

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The Inventor and the Tycoon  By  cover art

The Inventor and the Tycoon

By: Edward Ball
Narrated by: John H. Mayer
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Publisher's summary

From the National Book Award-winning author of Slaves in the Family, a riveting true life/true crime narrative of the partnership between the murderer who invented the movies and the robber baron who built the railroads.

One hundred and thirty years ago Eadweard Muybridge invented stop-motion photography, anticipating and making possible motion pictures. He was the first to capture time and play it back for an audience, giving birth to visual media and screen entertainments of all kinds. Yet the artist and inventor Muybridge was also a murderer who killed coolly and meticulously, and his trial is one of the early instances of a media sensation. His patron was railroad tycoon (and former California governor) Leland Stanford, whose particular obsession was whether four hooves of a running horse ever left the ground at once. Stanford hired Muybridge and his camera to answer that question. And between them, the murderer and the railroad mogul launched the age of visual media.

Set in California during its frontier decades, The Inventor and the Tycoon interweaves Muybridge's quest to unlock the secrets of motion through photography, an obsessive murder plot, and the peculiar partnership of an eccentric inventor and a driven entrepreneur. A tale from the great American West, this popular history unspools a story of passion, wealth, and sinister ingenuity.

©2013 Edward Ball (P)2013 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"National Book Award winner Ball (Writing/Yale Univ.; The Genetic Strand: Exploring a Family History Through DNA, 2007, etc.) returns with a complex story about railroad tycoon Leland Stanford and the murdering man who for a time was his protégé, pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge.... A skillfully written tale of technology and wealth, celebrity and murder and the nativity of today's dominant art and entertainment medium." ( Kirkus)

What listeners say about The Inventor and the Tycoon

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a challenge to listen to

It took quite an effort to stay with this entire audiobook. The story seemed too broken up and the arc of the story was only tangentially tied to the relationship between the inventor and the tycoon. I never worked as hard to follow an audiobook to the end as I did on The Inventor and the Tycoon.

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