Catalogue


Tesla [electronic resource] : inventor of the electrical age /
W. Bernard Carlson.
imprint
Princeton, New Jersey : Princeton University Press, [2013]
description
xiii, 500 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
ISBN
9780691057767 (hardback : acid-free paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Princeton, New Jersey : Princeton University Press, [2013]
isbn
9780691057767 (hardback : acid-free paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
abstract
"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"--
"This is a biography of one of the major 20th-century scientists, Nikola Tesla. It is interdisciplinary, containing accounts of U.S. manufacturing in the early 1900s and other contemporary cultural materials"--
catalogue key
9904169
 
Includes bibliographical references (page 423-471) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Nikola Tesla, like one of his oscillators, flickered between different states so quickly that they can easily blur. Carlson captures this extraordinary, contradictory life--inventor, futurist visionary, showman, and, at times, ranting narcissist. We get to see how Tesla scrambled like mad, built with ambition, and in his later efforts failed monumentally. Here is a book that guides us through this wild ride with empathy and without hagiography."-- Peter Galison, Harvard University "Combining archival research with the latest scholarship from the history of technology, Carlson has written the balanced, scholarly biography that Nikola Tesla has long deserved. This is the definitive study of his life and work."-- David E. Nye, University of Southern Denmark "Most biographies of Tesla lack technical background and are uncritical and adulatory in their approach. Carlson's perspective as a historian--particularly a historian of technology--is indispensable for understanding Tesla's place in the rapidly changing American society of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His style is engaging and accessible, and the book will clearly be of value to the historical community."-- Bernard S. Finn, curator emeritus, Smithsonian Institution " Tesla is a tour de force of scholarship and analysis. This is the definitive work on Tesla that brings to light much new information about his life, his inventions, and the changing socioeconomic context in which he worked. Carlson has mined the primary sources to an unprecedented depth and breadth. The book is nothing less than extraordinary."-- Michael Brian Schiffer, author of Power Struggles: Scientific Authority and the Creation of Practical Electricity before Edison
Flap Copy
"Nikola Tesla, like one of his oscillators, flickered between different states so quickly that they can easily blur. Carlson captures this extraordinary, contradictory life--inventor, futurist visionary, showman, and, at times, ranting narcissist. We get to see how Tesla scrambled like mad, built with ambition, and in his later efforts failed monumentally. Here is a book that guides us through this wild ride with empathy and without hagiography."--Peter Galison, Harvard University "Combining archival research with the latest scholarship from the history of technology, Carlson has written the balanced, scholarly biography that Nikola Tesla has long deserved. This is the definitive study of his life and work."--David E. Nye, University of Southern Denmark "Most biographies of Tesla lack technical background and are uncritical and adulatory in their approach. Carlson's perspective as a historian--particularly a historian of technology--is indispensable for understanding Tesla's place in the rapidly changing American society of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His style is engaging and accessible, and the book will clearly be of value to the historical community."--Bernard S. Finn, curator emeritus, Smithsonian Institution " Tesla is a tour de force of scholarship and analysis. This is the definitive work on Tesla that brings to light much new information about his life, his inventions, and the changing socioeconomic context in which he worked. Carlson has mined the primary sources to an unprecedented depth and breadth. The book is nothing less than extraordinary."--Michael Brian Schiffer, author of Power Struggles: Scientific Authority and the Creation of Practical Electricity before Edison
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2013-05-15:
Born in 1856, in the town of Smiljan, then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Nikola Tesla rose to great intellectual prominence with an array of inventions that included fluorescent lighting, the Tesla coil, the alternating current induction motor, wireless communication, and the laser beam. Carlson (history, Sch. of Engineering & Applied Science, Univ. of Virginia; Technology in World History) presents a new interpretation of Tesla, not as the eccentric that he has long been portrayed, but as a "theoretical inventor" similar to Alexander Graham Bell, torn by an internal struggle "between ideal and illusion" and not always successful in transforming his theoretical genius into profit. In impressive scholarly detail, Carlson's biography examines not only Tesla's amazing inventions but also his motivations for invention and his incredible drive to see his ideas come to fruition. VERDICT This is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a monumental inventor whose impact on our contemporary world is all too unfamiliar to the general public. Carlson relates the science behind Tesla's inventions with a judicial balance that will engage both the novice and the academic alike. Highly recommended to serious biography buffs and to readers of scientific subjects.-Brian Odom, Birmingham, AL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2013-04-08:
The flamboyant Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), as famous as Thomas Edison during his heyday, is now remembered largely for his eccentricities and his eponymous science museum staple, the Tesla coil. Here, University of Virginia tech and history professor Carlson (Technology in World History) sheds light on the man and plenty of his inventions. A Serbian-born engineer, Tesla came to the U.S. in 1884 to work for Edison Machine Works, whose namesake was then doggedly pioneering direct-current (DC) generators and attacking the work of his rival and alternating-current (AC) champion, George Westinghouse. Nevertheless, Tesla's prodigious talents resulted in a watershed invention for the other team and helped pave the way for AC to become today's electrical standard. Fascinated with wireless power transmission, Tesla also invented key components of telegraphy, radio, and television while making headlines with spectacular public demonstrations. Sadly, investors gradually lost interest-Tesla lacked the business acumen of Edison. But he was quite the showman-he regaled reporters with claims of wild inventions, like a superpowerful "particle beam weapon" that could blast planes from the sky, and drew the curious attention of Mark Twain. More technical than previous biographies, Carlson's electric portrait might turn off casual readers, but scholars will find it illuminating. 56 photos & 32 illus. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"An impressive piece of scholarship."-- Graham Farmelo, Daily Telegraph
A scholarly, critical, mostly illuminating study of the life and work of the great Serbian inventor.
"A scholarly, critical, mostly illuminating study of the life and work of the great Serbian inventor."-- Kirkus Reviews
"Carefully researched and thoughtfully written. . . . Clearly surpassing earlier accounts, [this] will be the gold standard for Tesla biography."-- Thomas J. Misa, Science
Carlson deftly weaves the many threads of Tesla's story.
"Carlson deftly weaves the many threads of Tesla's story."-- Nicola Davis, Times
Carlson even has something to teach readers familiar with Seifer's dissection of Tesla's tortured psyche in Wizard (2001) and O'Neill's much earlier chronicle of Tesla's childhood and early career in Prodigal Genius (1944). Carlson provides not only a more detailed explanation of Tesla's science but also a more focused psychological account of Tesla's inventive process than do his predecessors. Carlson also surpasses his predecessors in showing how Tesla promoted his inventions by creating luminous illusions of progress, prosperity, and peace, illusions so strong that they finally unhinge their creator. An exceptional fusion of technical analysis of revolutionary devices and imaginative sympathy for a lacerated ego.
Carlson sheds light on the man and plenty of his inventions. . . . [An] electric portrait.
"Carlson sheds light on the man and plenty of his inventions. . . . [An] electric portrait."-- Publishers Weekly
"Carlson takes a historian's approach to piecing together Tesla's life. He resists the temptation to focus only on Tesla's persona as an eccentric genius with a flair for drama. . . . Instead, Carlson sets out to answer three questions: 'How did Tesla invent? How did his inventions work? And what happened as he introduced his inventions?'"-- Maggie Fazeli Fard, Washington Post
"Required reading for any would-be innovator."-- Christine Evans-Pughe, Engineering and Technology
Run, don't walk, to buy this book for the Nikola Tesla cultist in your life. . . . [Carlson] is the first trained academic historian of technology to approach this topic, and he snaps the intense, romantic Serb back into his proper context.
"Run, don't walk, to buy this book for the Nikola Tesla cultist in your life. . . . [Carlson] is the first trained academic historian of technology to approach this topic, and he snaps the intense, romantic Serb back into his proper context."-- Colby Cosh, Maclean's Magazine
"Splendid."
"Splendid."-- Jon Turney, Times Higher Education
Superb. . . . Carlson brings to life Tesla's extravagant self-promotion, as well as his eccentricity and innate talents, revealing him as a celebrity-inventor of the 'second industrial revolution' to rival Thomas Alva Edison.
"Superb. . . . Carlson brings to life Tesla's extravagant self-promotion, as well as his eccentricity and innate talents, revealing him as a celebrity-inventor of the 'second industrial revolution' to rival Thomas Alva Edison."-- W. Patrick McCray, Nature
This is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a monumental inventor whose impact on our contemporary world is all too unfamiliar to the general public. Carlson relates the science behind Tesla's inventions with a judicial balance that will engage both the novice and the academic alike. Highly recommended to serious biography buffs and to readers of scientific subjects.
"This is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a monumental inventor whose impact on our contemporary world is all too unfamiliar to the general public. Carlson relates the science behind Tesla's inventions with a judicial balance that will engage both the novice and the academic alike. Highly recommended to serious biography buffs and to readers of scientific subjects."-- Brian Odom, Library Journal
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, April 2013
Booklist, May 2013
Library Journal, May 2013
Kirkus Reviews, June 2013
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
This is a biography of one of the major 20th-century scientists, Nikola Tesla. It is interdisciplinary, containing accounts of US manufacturing in the early 1900s and other contemporary cultural materials.
Main Description
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.
Unpaid Annotation
"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"--"This is a biography of one of the major 20th-century scientists, Nikola Tesla. It is interdisciplinary, containing accounts of U.S. manufacturing in the early 1900s and other contemporary cultural materials"--
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. ix
Introduction: Dinner at Delmonico'sp. 1
An Ideal Childhood (1856-1878)p. 12
Dreaming of Motors (1878-1882)p. 34
Learning by Doing (1882-1886)p. 60
Mastering Alternating Current (1886-1888)p. 76
Selling the Motor (1888-1889)p. 100
Searching for a New Ideal (1889-1891)p. 117
A Veritable Magician (1891)p. 129
Taking the Show to Europe (1891-1892)p. 143
Pushing Alternating Current in America (1892-1893)p. 158
Wireless Lighting and the Oscillator (1893-1894)p. 176
Efforts at Promotion (1894-1895)p. 193
Looking for Alternatives (1895-1898)p. 214
Stationary Waves (1899-1900)p. 262
Wardenclyffe (1900-1901)p. 302
The Dark Tower (1901-1905)p. 331
Visionary to the End (1905-1943)p. 368
Epiloguep. 396
Mote on Sourcesp. 415
Abbreviations and Sourcesp. 421
Notesp. 423
Acknowledgmentsp. 473
Indexp. 477
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem