Flash of Genius: And Other True Stories of Invention

Flash of Genius: And Other True Stories of Invention

by John Seabrook
     
 

Flash of Genius And Other True Stories of Invention by John Seabrook, staff writer for The New Yorker, is a collection of true stories about where great ideas come from, and is the basis for the Major Motion Picture starring Greg Kinnear releasing October 2008.

"John Seabrook is one of America's finest non-fiction writers….Fascinating,

Overview

Flash of Genius And Other True Stories of Invention by John Seabrook, staff writer for The New Yorker, is a collection of true stories about where great ideas come from, and is the basis for the Major Motion Picture starring Greg Kinnear releasing October 2008.

"John Seabrook is one of America's finest non-fiction writers….Fascinating, entertaining, beautifully written and often poignant…"—Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation

Where Do Great Ideas Come From?

In Flash of Genius, John Seabrook explores the moment when inspiration strikes in an otherwise average life, and what happens when that idea moves out into the larger culture and takes on a life—and commercial possibilities—of its own. The title piece in this collection is the David v. Goliath story of Bob Kearns, a professor and inventor who came up with something we all use every chance we get: the intermittent windshield wiper. When Kearns' patents were infringed, he fought General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, and eventually prevailed in a classic American story of never giving up, never backing down.

Seabrook has been fascinated by stories of invention and entrepreneurship since childhood, when he grew up with an uncle who invented something as ubiquitous as Bob Kearns' wipers: boil-in-bag vegetables. In Flash of Genius, Seabrook also writes about his family's invention and about thirteen other iconoclastic visions that turned into the stuff of every day.

Editorial Reviews

Sometimes coming up with a great idea is only half the battle; then you have to wrestle it away from major corporate infringers. John Seabrook's Flash of Genius renders the David-versus-Goliath story of Dr. Bob Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper that we all take for granted. According to Kearns, he got the idea for his brainchild at his 1953 wedding reception when a champagne bottle cork exploded into his left eye, causing him to blink. (Kearns later lost use of the eye and his marriage ended in a bitter divorce, but such is the price of genius.) The Case Western–trained engineer designed his "blinking" windshield wiper in his Detroit basement, but he spent much of his career fighting patent cases against General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and others. He won most of the cases but lost the war: He never regained sole control of his invention. A poignant story about a stubborn professor.
Publishers Weekly
Author Seabrook (Nobrow: The Culture of Marketing, the Marketing of Culture), a staff writer for The New Yorker (where these 15 essays first appeared), says in his introduction that he has "always been interested in the circumstances, unforeseen obstacles, and unimagined outcomes of 'inventive acts.'" It's clear that he's also fascinated by interconnectedness: how the prospector in Nevada links to investors in gold futures, how the business of scrap metal links American trash to Chinese entrepreneurship. Each story is a brief but detailed look inside what might seem arcane businesses, projects and ideas (like the research into an anachronistic Greek artifact called the Antikythera Mechanism), made clear and compelling by Seabrook's focus on personal satisfaction over business success, though the themes of human inventiveness and human acquisitiveness twine throughout (with a few exceptions, money is a huge driving force in these stories). Especially entrancing are the "Fruit Detective," the founding of the Weather Channel, the efforts of a Hollywood animatronic designer and an MIT scientist to build a "lovable" robot, and the title essay, following windshield wiper revolutionary Bob Kearns's long fight with Ford Motors (and basis for the current feature film).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312535728
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
09/02/2008
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
1,187,709
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

John Seabrook began his magazine career at Manhattan Inc. and Vanity Fair and has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1993. He is the author of Deeper: My Two-Year Odyssey in Cyberspace, and Nobrow: The Culture of Marketing, the Marketing of Culture. He lives in New York City.

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