Edison: Inventing the Century

Edison: Inventing the Century

by Neil Baldwin
     
 

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The genius of America's most prolific inventor, Thomas Edison, is widely acknowledged, and Edison himself has become an almost mythic figure. But how much do we really know about the man who considered deriving rubber from a goldenrod plant as opposed to the genius who gave us electric light? Neil Baldwin gives us a complex portrait of the inventor

Overview

The genius of America's most prolific inventor, Thomas Edison, is widely acknowledged, and Edison himself has become an almost mythic figure. But how much do we really know about the man who considered deriving rubber from a goldenrod plant as opposed to the genius who gave us electric light? Neil Baldwin gives us a complex portrait of the inventor himself—both myth and man—and a multifaceted account of the intellectual climate of the country he worked in and irrevocably changed.

Editorial Reviews

Roger Rosenblatt
“In this scrupulously detailed, thoroughly captivating biography, Neil Baldwin presents America in a man—as strange, obsessed, and tangled and brilliant as the age he literally illuminated. After reading Edison, you wonder how it is possible to understand the country without him.”
Newsweek
“Baldwin has demythologized the man and left the genius bigger than life.”—David Gates, Newsweek

Wall Street Journal
“Edison has been the subject of many earlier biographical studies, yet Mr. Baldwin sees more clearly than the rest how Edison’s life was his greatest invention.”—G. Pascal Zachary, Wall Street Journal

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The boxed PW review of Baldwin's biography of the driven, contradictory inventor called it ``an inspirational American saga of titanic determination and protean imagination.'' (Feb.)
Library Journal
Thomas Alva Edison, an icon to millions, was a prodigious inventor and emblem of the American entrepreneurial spirit. His impact on our century via the electric light, the phonograph, the movie, and even Portland cement truly transformed the American experience. Capturing not only the creative and inventive thrust of Edison's life but its personal aspects, Baldwin offers first-rate writing. Baldwin, author of Man Ray: American Artist (LJ 10/1/88) and executive director of the National Book Foundation, describes with care the family and business milieu Edison fostered and lived in. He also gives generous treatment to the important people in Edison's life. The story is fascinating. Highly recommended for all libraries. [For more on Baldwin and Edison, see LJ's Behind the Book interview, "Biography of an Inventive Life," on p. 116.-Ed.]-Michael D. Cramer, Virginia Polytechnic & State Univ. Libs., Blacksburg
Gilbert Taylor
The Wizard of Menlo Park always attracted a great deal of press and biographical attention because his inventions--the lightbulb, microphone, phonograph, moving pictures--appeared nigh miraculous. Edison himself hated the Merlin-like moniker, claiming only to have been a diligent man. Baldwin agrees he was--and reports that at 65, Thomas Alva Edison worked a 112-hour week. Domestically, Edison was not so successful. Thomas Jr. became so estranged from his celebrated father that he dropped the surname and skulked about under various aliases. And Edison cut off relations with a daughter who had married an officer in the kaiser's army. Was Edison a flawed father or titanic exemplar of self-made individualism? Baldwin eschews categorical conclusions and rather invites the curious into Edison's homes, labs, and factories where they can make their own inspection. Libraries without any Edison biography (the last, by Wyn Wachhorst, is 15 years old and o.p.) should seriously consider this one, completely researched and ably executed.
Booknews
An account of the life of inventor Thomas Edison (1847-1931), focusing on his intellectual contributions, his absorption in his work, the mythology that developed and was cultivated about him, and the cultural context in which he produced his inventions. B&w illustrations. Originally published in 1995 by Hyperion, New York. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226035710
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
04/28/2001
Edition description:
1
Pages:
542
Sales rank:
927,610
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Neil Baldwin is an executive director of the National Book Foundation and coeditor of The Writing Life. He is the author of critically acclaimed biographies of William Carlos Williams and Man Ray, as well as Legends of the Plumed Serpent: Biography of a Mexican God.

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