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Inventor of the Electrical Age
W. Bernard Carlson

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format]


"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

"Carlson deftly weaves the many threads of Tesla's story."--Nicola Davis, Times

"Splendid."--Jon Turney, Times Higher Education

"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

"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

"An impressive piece of scholarship."--Graham Farmelo, Daily Telegraph

"Carlson has written an exhaustive biography of Tesla, remarkable for its breadth and thoroughness. He explores and details all his major inventions, providing illustrations and in some cases even reproductions of the patent applications. This is as fair and balanced a biography of Tesla as one could hope for, no mean feat for a man so full of contradictions."--Gino Segre, Physics in Perspective

"Historian Carlson . . . has at last written a balanced and nuanced scholarly treatment of Tesla in the technical and social contexts of his time. . . . Carlson's easy-to-read style and almost flawless exposition of technical matters will make this book attractive for everyone from general readers to engineers and historians. It is well illustrated and indexed with extensive footnotes. This book is likely to become the standard scholarly biography of Tesla for decades to come."--Choice

"Since the death of Nikola Tesla in 1943, his life has deserved a worthy biography. Bernard Carlson has delivered that in Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age, which portrays Tesla as intensely human. . . . Anyone, whether simply an interested reader or a professional historian, engineer, or physicist, will finish Tesla with a deepened understanding of his world, character, and accomplishments."--Robert Rosenberg, Physics Today

"This major biography sheds new light on Tesla's visionary approach to invention and the business strategies behind his most important technological breakthroughs."--World Book Industry


"Carlson has written a serious, rigorous book grounded in the academic history of technology, but also a page-turner that any fan of Tesla will enjoy."--Robert MacDougall, Western University

"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

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File created: 4/18/2014

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