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Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla : Biography of a Genius [Paperback]

Marc Seifer
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 21 2011 Citadel Press Book
Nikola Tesla, credited by many as the inspiration for radios, robots, and even radar, has been called the patron saint of modern electricity. "Wizard" is the definitive biography of this founding father of modern technology of photos .

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From Publishers Weekly

Seifer's vivid, revelatory, exhaustively researched biography rescues pioneer inventor Nikola Tesla from cult status and restores him to his rightful place as a principal architect of the modern age. Based largely on firsthand documents including Tesla's writings, his patents and those of competitors, it credits the Croatian-born Serb, who moved to New York in 1884, with the invention of the induction motor, long-distance electrical power distribution, fluorescent and neon lights, the first true radio tube and remote control, besides making vital contributions to the technology underlying television, wireless communication, robotics, lasers, the facsimile machine and particle-beam weaponry anticipating the space-based "Star Wars" defensive shield. Though often depicted as a recluse, flamboyant nouveau-riche Tesla (1856-1943) lived in Manhattan's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for two decades, and hobnobbed with architect Sanford White, Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, conservationist John Muir, mogul John Jacob Astor III, Swami Vivekananda. Yet the electronic wizard, who competed fiercely with Marconi and with his one-time employer Edison, became swamped in debt, abandoned by a world he helped create, ending his days in seedy poverty, a bitter, anorexic eccentric obsessed with feeding pigeons and avoiding germs. Seifer, who teaches psychology at Community College of Rhode Island, attributes Tesla's downfall partly to his megalomaniacal, neurotic, self-destructive tendencies, partly to a quagmire of litigation and also to his Faustian pact with his ambivalent benefactor, Wall Street financier J. Pierpont Morgan, to whom he relinquished control of several patents. Morgan, suggests Seifer, stymied Tesla's visionary scheme for a global, wireless power-distribution system because, if realized, it would jeopardize electrical, lighting and telephone monopolies. Seifer provides the fullest account yet of Tesla as an entrepreneur, experimental physicist and inventor. Photos.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Nikola Tesla is credited by many as the inventor of radio and should have received most of the credit for the development of modern electricity. Yet there is considerable confusion about his technical contributions and even more about his personal life. This book, by a professor of psychology at Bristol Community College and a member of the International Tesla Society, painstakingly documents Tesla's wide-ranging contributions. Born in Croatia, Tesla emigrated to the United States in 1884 and almost immediately began work on alternatives to what was then accepted as standard electrical technology. This brought him into conflict with Edison and later Westinghouse. The pattern of conflict continued for nearly 60 years, partially because Tesla was far ahead of his time, partially because he was erratic and off-beat, and partially because he was not an astute business partner. Seifer has analyzed extensive sources, many not previously used by other Tesla biographers, to provide a detailed interpretation of his life, but the fact that he also incorporates extensive handwriting analysis to arrive at several of his conclusions will certainly cause some reader concern. For larger science and biography collections.?Hilary Burton, Lawrence Livermore National Lab., Livermore, Cal.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Flawed May 12 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If the following snippets from author's preface grab you, you're likely to enjoy this book:
"In 1976...I stumbled across a strange text entitled Return of the Dove which claimed that there was a man not born of this planet who landed as a baby in the mountains of Croatia in 1856...his name was Nikola Tesla."
"...I also examine such questions as whether Tesla received impulses from outer space..."
"Using a psychohistorical perspective..."
As for me, I was hoping this book was going to be a serious scientific biography. I've learned a bit, but I have also been left with the distinct feeling that Mr Seifer (a community college psychology instructor) simply doesn't understand historical research and writing well enough to filter through Tesla's own self-contradictory and self-congratulatory statements. The result is a book that reads more like idle speculation than a rigourously researched and analysed biography. Finally, the points others have made on this site about the book's scientific overstatements are well taken
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tesla: Not The Genius Seifer Claims (Revised) May 4 2000
Format:Paperback
Seifer did a comprehensive job of documenting Tesla's life but failed in appraising the contributions he made to science. From an engineers point of view, I feel that Seifer either did not have the technical knowledge to judge Tesla's endeavors or he was determined to undertake a crusade to make a scientific saint out him and ignored Tesla's follies.
Tesla did make significant advancements in alternating current machinery and in his work with coils and oscillators. But Tesla's concepts on the propagation of electromagnetic waves, as well as Seifer's interpretation was greatly lacking. Tesla believed that electromagnetic waves traveled as compression waves through the ether. Seifer, on page 102 refers to the 1881 Michelson and Morely experiments as "unsuccessfully tried to measure the ether..." Those experiments proved that, as far as electromagnetic propagation is concerned, there is no ether. Tesla claimed that he could communicate throughout the whole world from one location and went through hundreds of thousands of dollars in attempts to develop this. All one has to do is to look atTesla's Wardenclyffe tower as described and shown in the book to realize that if Tesla were the only one working on wireless communication we might not even have it today. On page 475, Seifer tells of a coil "50 miles in length or one forth the wavelength of light ...." The wave length of light is less than one millionth of a meter. The book describes many other concepts that Tesla raised money for but never brought to fruition. Tesla, as described in the book, was a showman and, perhaps a con artists promising his investors, such as Astor and Morgan, large returns but never accomplishing anything of merit for them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read !!! Dec 9 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fascinating book about in my opinion, the father of modern electricity. And a horrible businessman, had trouble putting the book down.
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By fastreader TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
That Tesla was a genius is a given.

This book goes deeper than that and at times he does appear to be a wizard. Highly educated, fluent in 12 languages, and a prolific reader Tesla even when young would not just accept something as fact just because some authority figure told him. If it didn't make sense he would investigate it with vigour.

That was both a positive and negative attribute as once he got something in his mind to work on he would do so without appropriate rest until he collapsed. He was driven in the true sense of the word.

Seifer's research for this book must have been intensive as it comprehensive in what is included.
Great mind, Great Book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This was AWESOME! July 16 2002
Format:Paperback
If anyone has ever been interested in a the fascinating inventions of Tesla, this book will satisfy this interest and do so much more. It tells of his intellectual genius, and egotistical and financial failings. Tesla was his best and worst enemy, and this book does a nice job of proving both points. A really interesting read, with no slow parts as you might think. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Biography of a Man ahead of his Time Dec 29 2003
By D. Ross
Format:Paperback
Seifer's comprehensive look at Nikola Tesla is unexpected. It is neither dry, formulaic or predictable - even for those familiar with the enigmatic genius. Simply put, it is fascinating, exciting reading. Tesla was credited with the invention of modern AC power generation, remote control, fundamental advances in radio, wireless voice- and data-transfer, the first laser, advanced flight concepts, and a myriad of other inventions. Yet he died without ever achieving the financial rewards one would expect for a man who was truly ahead of his time.
Taking advantage of ill-defined intellectual property laws and the vagaries of international court systems, other well-known inventors such as Pupin, Marconi, and Steinmetz either "borrowed" his discoveries or helped write him out of the history books. While many rode Tesla's coattails to public recognition and, often, staggering financial success - the great man was left penniless and alone.
Seifer pulls no punches. Tesla made a series of startling gaffes. From ill-conceived contracts with Westinghouse (leaving him with no ongoing revenue from his discovery of the AC polyphase system) to poor management of critical projects backed by J.P. Morgan, Tesla disappointed his financiers time and time again. Lack of prioritization, spinning off in too many directions simultaneously, poor project management - all contributed to Tesla's inability to achieve the breakthrough he needed (and deserved) for true financial independence.
Seifer covers Tesla's life in exceptional detail. His bizarre work habits (often sleeping only two hours a night), his odd social life (never married and apparently a lifelong celibate), and his many other idiosyncrasies are described with fascinating anecdotes. You don't need to be an Electrical Engineer, or a Scientist, or even technically savvy to thoroughly enjoy _Wizard_. In a nutshell: superb.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but flawed
For me, red flags go up when I start to read a book whose author claims that he will now give us the truth on some subject or other, unlike all previous writers on that subject. Read more
Published 17 months ago by ewbd
5.0 out of 5 stars Very accurate, the most comprehensive book on N.Tesla
Marc did great job covering life and work of Nikola Tesla, a serbian-american inventor who made great contributions to modern science and engineering. Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2003 by Bogdan Kosanovic
4.0 out of 5 stars About time for the Facts.
Bravo, Bravo.
What a great find. I have been through this book twice and still find myself overwhelmend by the accomplishments of Tesla. Read more
Published on June 29 2002 by "tbmarkus"
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Profile
This is a well written piece of work by Seifer. It is not as detailed an autobiography as say Cheney's "Tesla: Man Out of Time" but if offers many other aspects that... Read more
Published on Dec 27 2001 by M. Savic
3.0 out of 5 stars Change the title to "Men of Electricity"
This book was not devoted to the life of Nikola Tesla. In addition to Tesla's life, the book contained a brief (and often irrelevant)biography of the many men and women who lived... Read more
Published on Dec 18 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stupendous piece of work!
The author nimbly balances breadth and depth as he delineates the multifaceted complexities of Tesla's story - a story which surely supports the adage that truth can be stranger... Read more
Published on March 24 2000
2.0 out of 5 stars Could be better
The book was a nice overview of Tesla's life and accomplishments and painted an interesting portrait of the inventor, but was unfortunately riddled with the authors own... Read more
Published on Dec 10 1999
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