“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” —Thomas Edison Like most people who change the world, Thomas Alva Edison (1847–1931) was not expected to do much with his life. The last of seven children, he was a frail, distractible child with bad hearing whose father thought he might be dim-witted. However, the endlessly curious Edison was a habitual inventor and voracious reader from an early age. A driven entrepreneur, at twelve he was already hawking newspapers and candy on a train while simultaneously operating stores in two train stations. These two personality traits, the businessman and the scientist, combined with a burning ambition to make Edison the most important inventor of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In Edison, science writer David J. Kent (Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity) tells how the inventor:
- Feuded with other great inventors, like Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse
- Changed how the world experienced darkness with the incandescent light bulb
- Used an elephant named Topsy for a dramatic example of the power of electricity
- Established the world’s first modern technology company and first movie studio
- Was awarded over 1,000 patents in the United States alone
- Created everything from an electrographic voting machine to the phonograph
About the Author
David Kent has been a scientist for thirty years and has worked as a consultant in both the United States and Europe. He is actively involved in and commonly speaks at regional, national, and international scientific organizations. He has served as president of regional chapters of both the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) and the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA). The author of the 2012 illustrated biography Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, Kent has authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific articles and presentations for peer-reviewed journals, technical newsletters, and scientific meetings. In addition to his professional capacity he writes a series of blogs related to science, travel, and politics.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm a "team Tesla" girl myself, but after reading this book the facts that prove Thomas Edison's genius for business and inventions is undeniable. It's a real American story; boy who comes from a fairly poor family who was ridiculed by his teachers and believed stupid teaches himself via science experiments who grows up to be one of the most well-known inventors of all time. The book is gorgeous, first of all. That was what led me to pick it up. But the illustrations on the inside are not only pleasing to the eye, but are illustrative of his various inventions through blueprints, political cartoons, portraits. It really gives a comprehensive picture to Edison the Man over Edison the Figure. I would suggest this to anyone!
The author does a wonderful job of introducing this great inventor, not just the many well known inventions, but also the man himself - his upbringing and teenage years, his marriages and children and friends, his personality and work habits. All of these were effectively brought to life through the well written fluid text and various photos and illustrations. This book would be a perfect gift to anyone who is interested in inventors and scientists.
This book is designed to appeal to a wide range of readers who want to learn things about Edison not told in other biographies. Packed with colorful and rare illustrations, Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World is visually stunning and the writing is light and easy. Beginning with his upbringing in Milan, Ohio, and Port Huron, Michigan, the book explores how the insatiable curiosity of "Little Al" made his father wonder if he was a bit dimwitted and led his first teacher to call him "addled." Self-teaching through experiment and reading, young Edison quickly shows his inventiveness and business acumen, leaving his doubters well behind at an early age. Chapters examine his teen years while the Civil War raged, his early improvements to telegraphs, and his contributions to the art of invention. Edison, now called "Tom," rises to celebrity status with the telephone and telegraph, explores the world in his efforts to build a better light bulb, and fights the intriguing War of the Currents against rivals Westinghouse and Tesla. Along the way he acquires two wives, six children, and friendships with some of the greatest names in business history. Not slowing down as he aged, Edison becomes a movie mogul, an iron ore magnate, builds houses out of concrete, becomes a botanical rubber expert, writes notes for a science fiction novel, and accomplishes much, much more before passing away in his sleep at the ripe old age of 84. Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World tells the story of a man who has left a legacy that few can hope to equal. He was a great deal more than people know, perhaps in both good and bad ways. All are laid out in easy to read language and with spectacular photos, cartoons, and drawings in a format that blends the best of vivid writing with a graphical novel feel. I am the author of this book. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. See also my earlier book, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity.