The invention of the telephone is one of the most celebrated events in American history, but rarely have inventor and invention been better served than in the 400 illustrations, many of them Bell family photos, assembled by Edwin S. Grosvenor and Morgan Wesson in "Alexander Graham Bell: The Life and Times of the Man Who Invented the Telephone." -- David Walton, The New York Times Book Review
Great inventors tend to become so closely identified with their most famous invention that their very lives become obscured. As this terse, admiring assessment of Bell's (18471922) life makes clear, the telephonehis greatest accomplishment and a leading invention of the 19th centuryrepresented only one element in his long and restless career. He also devised the first practical phonograph and did important work on aviation in its infancy. This shy, amiable man also headed the National Geographic Society, was an outspoken proponent of civil rights, and worried publicly about the impact of technology on the environment. Grosvenor, Bell's great-grandson, and Wesson, a documentary filmmaker, offer a useful overview of Bell's professional achievements, succinct descriptions of his ideas, and a lively account of the telephone's impact on American society. The 405 illustrations (35 in color) offer a fascinating view of Bell's high-spirited family life and circle of friends, and of the early years of the telephone business. An effective marriage of text and photographs, and a succinct portrait of a decent man and a remarkable scientist.