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Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention

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Overview

The popular image of Alexander Graham Bell is that of an elderly American patriarch, memorable only for his paunch, his Santa Claus beard, and the invention of the telephone. In this magisterial reassessment based on thorough new research, acclaimed biographer Charlotte Gray reveals Bell?s wide-ranging passion for invention and delves into the private life that supported his genius. The child of a speech therapist and a deaf mother, and possessed of superbly acute hearing, Bell developed an early interest in ...

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Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention

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Overview

The popular image of Alexander Graham Bell is that of an elderly American patriarch, memorable only for his paunch, his Santa Claus beard, and the invention of the telephone. In this magisterial reassessment based on thorough new research, acclaimed biographer Charlotte Gray reveals Bell’s wide-ranging passion for invention and delves into the private life that supported his genius. The child of a speech therapist and a deaf mother, and possessed of superbly acute hearing, Bell developed an early interest in sound. His understanding of how sound waves might relate to electrical waves enabled him to invent the “talking telegraph” be- fore his rivals, even as he undertook a tempestuous courtship of the woman who would become his wife and mainstay.

In an intensely competitive age, Bell seemed to shun fame and fortune. Yet many of his innovations—electric heating, using light to transmit sound, electronic mail, composting toilets, the artificial lung—were far ahead of their time. His pioneering ideas about sound, flight, genetics, and even the engineering of complex structures such as stadium roofs still resonate today. This is an essential portrait of an American giant whose innovations revolutionized the modern world.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
“Fascinating to read. . . . Highly recommended.”
The New York Post
“Required reading. . . . Enjoyable.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611450606
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/1/2011
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 244,583
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Charlotte Gray, a historian, biographer, teacher, columnist, and radio and television commentator, is one of Canada’s best known and most highly respected writers. She has written five bestsellers and won numerous awards for her work. She lives in Ottawa, Canada.
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Table of Contents

Part I Circuits and Connections 1847-1876

Chapter 1 The Great White Plague 1847-1870 1

Chapter 2 The Backwoods of Canada 1870 21

Chapter 3 Boston Bound 1871-1874 30

Chapter 4 A Brahmin Childhood 1857-1873 51

Chapter 5 Good Vibrations 1873-1875 68

Chapter 6 The Fateful "Twang" 1875 82

Chapter 7 Nantucket Passion 1875 97

Chapter 8 Patent No. 174,465 1875-1876 117

Part 2 The Struggle for Balance 1876-1889

Chapter 9 Ring for the Future 1876-1877 143

Chapter 10 London Life 1877-1878 167

Chapter 11 Litigation Battles 1878-1880 188

Chapter 12 Sad Losses, Failed Hopes 1880-1885 211

Chapter 13 Atlantic Adventures 1885-1887 235

Chapter 14 A Shifting Balance 1887-1889 248

Chapter 15 Helen Keller and the Politics of Deafness 1886-1896 266

Part 3 Monster Kites and Flying Machines 1889-1923

Chapter 16 Escape to Cape Breton 1889-1895 293

Chapter 17 Monster Kites 1895-1900 321

Chapter 18 Family Remains 1900-1906 344

Chapter 19 Bell's Boys 1906-1909 364

Chapter 20 The Auld Chief 1909-1915 381

Chapter 21 The Last Hurrah 1915-1923 402

Epilogue The Legacies of Alexander Graham Bell 427

Appendix Patents Issued by the U.S. Patent Office to Alexander Graham Bell and His Associates 433

Sources 35

Photo Sources 446

Acknowledgments 447

Index 451

Maps

Bell's Boston 50

The Atlantic Coast of North America 116

Beinn Bhreagh 316

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2014

    So so bio of Bell

    This a pretty mushy account of Bells life. One paragraph on the invention of the telephone, perhaps the greatest invention of all time in terms of impact. But page after page of family affairs, dinners, trips, weddings etc. Nothing about the formation of Bell Telephone or ATT. Incorrect assignment of invention of radio to Marconi, when patent actually went to Tesla. Bruce's book may be bettrt on technical and business details.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2008

    Excellent Biography

    An excellent book. I enjoyed it a great deal and I am completely satisfied. The writing style is pleasing and the story line stays focused. The historical underpinning applies directly to the subject at hand. There is no digression. The author lets the story do the talking. And it is a very interesting story, not only of Mr. Bell but of his family. I am really impressed with this author. Why can't Charlotte Gray write every biography? I would read them all.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

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