Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Ageby W. Bernard Carlson
Nikola Tesla was a major contributor to the electrical revolution that transformed daily life at the turn of the twentieth century. His inventions, patents, and theoretical work formed the basis of modern AC electricity, and contributed to the development of radio and television. Like his competitor Thomas Edison, Tesla was one of America's first celebrity… See more details below
Nikola Tesla was a major contributor to the electrical revolution that transformed daily life at the turn of the twentieth century. His inventions, patents, and theoretical work formed the basis of modern AC electricity, and contributed to the development of radio and television. Like his competitor Thomas Edison, Tesla was one of America's first celebrity scientists, enjoying the company of New York high society and dazzling the likes of Mark Twain with his electrical demonstrations. An astute self-promoter and gifted showman, he cultivated a public image of the eccentric genius. Even at the end of his life when he was living in poverty, Tesla still attracted reporters to his annual birthday interview, regaling them with claims that he had invented a particle-beam weapon capable of bringing down enemy aircraft.
Plenty of biographies glamorize Tesla and his eccentricities, but until now none has carefully examined what, how, and why he invented. In this groundbreaking book, W. Bernard Carlson demystifies the legendary inventor, placing him within the cultural and technological context of his time, and focusing on his inventions themselves as well as the creation and maintenance of his celebrity. Drawing on original documents from Tesla's private and public life, Carlson shows how he was an "idealist" inventor who sought the perfect experimental realization of a great idea or principle, and who skillfully sold his inventions to the public through mythmaking and illusion.
This major biography sheds new light on Tesla's visionary approach to invention and the business strategies behind his most important technological breakthroughs.
"Dr. Carlson has written an outstanding work, exhibiting a true understanding of the complex person who was Nikola Tesla. The book is alternatively upliftingas it reveals how Tesla's mind worked, creating prototypes of inventions which have changed the worldand heartbreaking. . . . The book is much more than a biography, as Carlson examines the art of invention as it applied to Tesla. He skillfully weaves into the narrative insights as to why Tesla approached his work in the way he did."John Bowditch, Technology and Culture
"Only the bravest of historians elects to take on the challenge of writing a scholarly biography of Tesla that examines and critiques such fondly cherished myths. And Bernie Carlson is certainly up to this challenge. . . . [A]n indispensable guide to one of the most fascinating yet controversial and misunderstood innovators of the modern era."Graeme Gooday, Metascience
"[Carlson's] extensive notes on his sources are invaluable for Tesla researchers, and his book sheds light on many misconceptions perpetuated in some popular Tesla biographies."Nexus Magazine
"The problem for any biographer is that there are really two distinctly different Nikola Teslas. One is the towering genius shunned by the ignorant establishment, whose greatest works are still suppressed; this is the Tesla adored by the alternative science community and the popular media. . . . The other Tesla is the miserable failed inventor whose great plans and endless boasts came to nothing. . . . Carlson manages the impressive feat of steering a middle course between these two."David Hambling, Fortean Times
- Princeton University Press
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Meet the Author
W. Bernard Carlson is professor of science, technology, and society in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and professor of history at the University of Virginia. His books include Technology in World History and Innovation as a Social Process: Elihu Thomson and the Rise of General Electric, 1870-1900.
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I am not done yet with this book, but what I read up to now is exactly what the review described. The style of the biography is clear, very informative, but is not hampered with difficult words, keeping the reading flow costant. As my first tesla biogrphy, I am satisfied.