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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tesla: A sad and amazing tale
I agree with what the other reviewer wrote. About the Tesla book as not focusing on Tesla very much. However, I felt that Cheney was trying to tell us that Tesla didn't 'want' to be known at all. The times that Tesla opened up to america, were to see american corporations clamp down on him and his ideas.... so Tesla became even more the introvert than before.... While...
Published on March 10 2003 by Jonathan C. Melusky

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Already knowing something about Tesla's eccentric character I was excited to read this book. However, I soon found it confusing, poorly writen, and very easy to put down. Tesla himself is an interesting character who perhaps doesn't get the credit he deserves and his story should be told. He was largely responsible for our advances using alternating current, better...
Published on June 3 2004 by Jason Nelson


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, June 3 2004
By 
Jason Nelson "musshin" (Kansas City, MO USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tesla: Man Out of Time (Paperback)
Already knowing something about Tesla's eccentric character I was excited to read this book. However, I soon found it confusing, poorly writen, and very easy to put down. Tesla himself is an interesting character who perhaps doesn't get the credit he deserves and his story should be told. He was largely responsible for our advances using alternating current, better understanding of electricity, and he also produced many other inventions. Some of his inventions fell more to the theoretical as opposed to practical side but there can be no doubt that he was a veritable intellect. The problem with Cheney is the book focuses too much on other people instead of Tesla and very little in the way of describing the history of Tesla as a man or of Tesla's character is expounded upon in this book. Instead we are given a bunch of little episodes about Tesla interspersed with droning technical detail. This was supposed to be a biography and not a technical journal. As an example allow me to post part of one of her paragraphs:
*The relevance of ball lightning to fusion research has to do with the problem of confining plasma. The heart of the most common type of experimental fusion reaction involves taking isotopic hydrogen gas and both accelerating and superheating it until the hydrogen nuclei fuse to make helium nuclei, releasing, in the process, staggering amounts of energy. Along the way, while the hydrogen is being charged with vast amounts of kinetic and thermal energy, it enters an imperfectly understood material state known as plasma*
Now, boy doesn't that make for compelling reading! Besides these rather boring technical interludes the book does have a middle section with photographs and smidgets of insight which help prevent making the book a complete waste. Perhaps, most irritatingly to me was the way Cheney was disorganized and bounced around in time. It was hard to tell if she was talking about the younger or the older Tesla and if she was discussing something that already happened or that was occuring later in his life. Anyway, this is a shame because Tesla is without doubt someone worth studying but based on the things I've mentioned I would have to suggest a different biography.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tesla: A sad and amazing tale, March 10 2003
By 
Jonathan C. Melusky (Shoreline, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tesla: Man Out of Time (Paperback)
I agree with what the other reviewer wrote. About the Tesla book as not focusing on Tesla very much. However, I felt that Cheney was trying to tell us that Tesla didn't 'want' to be known at all. The times that Tesla opened up to america, were to see american corporations clamp down on him and his ideas.... so Tesla became even more the introvert than before.... While yes, his letters to people are opening a little bit, they are quite sad, how he came to love pigeons more than people at the end of his life. Animals never tried to hurt him emotionally or finacially, so he spent all his time with them.
The science could have been deeper but I was not a science major so it was at a perfect level for me as a reader of literature. Perhaps it could have had a middle chapter titled, "Deep science" and most readers could be given the heads up about it, so they could skip it if they wished to. However the main thrust of the book was to enlighten the reader as to how recluse Tesla was and how sad his letters got even though he changed the face of american science more so than Edison did. I was shocked when the US Military did not take his genius and put him to work in some hidden base somewhere. But then they probably had a less budget then compared to today.
Anyway, it was a great read on the long drive to Baja Mexico from Idaho.
Jonathan M
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE Definite Tesla Biography, Sept. 8 2002
This review is from: Tesla: Man Out of Time (Paperback)
The best biography written on one of the most amazing men of the 20th century, or perhaps of all-time.
Nikola Tesla was one of the world's greatest inventors, and definitely its most mysterious. To say that Telsa was ahead of his time is putting it rather mildly. Most of his inventions were so advanced that the public had a difficult time grasping just how important they really were.
Although Marconi is often credited with the invention of radio, the real credit goes entirely to Tesla. A long-running battle between the two ended when American courts essentially invalidated Marconi's radio patent, and awarded credit for the invention to Nikola Telsla.
In addition to radio, Tesla also invented Alternating Current (AC), which is the form of electricity used to deliver power to most homes and businesses on earth. He also patented hundreds of other inventions, many of which are in use today. Others are yet to be understood by modern scientists.
Probably just as fascinating as Tesla's inventions was Telsa himself though. He was the original, real-life "mad scientist", and often discussed his invention of the "death ray" with the popular press. The world has never seen an inventor the likes of Nikola Tesla, and may never see one again. This book is a fascinating look at an amazing individual.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More than an inventor!, April 23 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Tesla: Man Out of Time (Paperback)
After reading this book, the whole way of understanding what the human mind is changed for me.
One of the most important things I have ever read in my life came from this very book, when Tesla is quoted saying this:
"Nothing enters our minds or determines our actions which is not directly or indirectly a response to stimuli beating opon our sense organs from without. Owing to the similarity of our construction and the sameness of our environment, we respond in like manner to similar stimuli, and from the concordance of our reactions, understanding is born. In the course of ages, mechanisms of infinite complexity are developed, but what we
call "soul" is nothing more than the sum of the functionings of the body. When this functioning ceases, the "soul" ceases likewise."
As you can see, this book is so much more than just about some inventor and his amazing gadgets that created sparks!
My second favorite quote from this book is this:
"There is no conflict between the ideal of religion and the ideal of science, but science is opposed to theological dogmas because science is founded on fact. The universe is simply a great machine which never came into being and will never end."
Here we can see Tesla was way before his time knowing back then what most scientists today don't know.
This book really shows you a man born way before his time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars can you ever know enough about Tesla?, Nov. 27 2002
By 
DRYWASHER-BILL (LAS VEGAS, NEVADA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tesla: Man Out of Time (Paperback)
like most books about Tesla, useful information can be gleaned from this book, but not all is told here. more books that one has about Tesla and his inventions all come together to help the reader/technician/inventor envision the final results. This is necessary because most technical Tesla components have to be made and fashioned on the spot, and then tuned and calibrated to perform the desired function. Indeed, Tesla spent a lot more time making and trying out certain key components, than making the overall 'machine'.
Amazingly, working with multi-volts and wattages, in one's garage or lab, lighting up burned out florescent tubes hanging around off the ceiling, can be enlightening for the user and so destructive for any type of computer, or object that uses a computer chip. Though the use and making of very complex components, Tesla later found that many of the end results, intended or not, were 'simple' oversights or side bars of his experiments, and these 'simple' technologies assumed a life all their own, sometimes overshadowing the more complex and intricate workings of the previously envisioned result.
Here we are, amateurs and novices (compared with the Master Tesla), attempting to pick up the pieces from obscure notes and diagrams, and reproducing 'simple' actions, which are anything but simple. This, the legacy of a true inventor, rather than a tinkerer, as was Edison. Lest anyone think about journals and writings of Tesla becoming readily available, most acredited sources believe that 80% or more of his technical notes and works ended up in Belgrade, and with the last Croatian/Serbian war, their continued existence is doubtful. Yet, with what few notes we have, our quest for knowledge and witness to the vast fields of thought and technology unmasked by Tesla is simply unfathomable to the informed.
Good luck in your quest, and be open to purchasing all you can about Tesla, the Genius Inventor.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Very Eye Opening Book, June 1 2002
By 
TheHighlander (Richfield, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tesla: Man Out of Time (Paperback)
I, like many others, have heard the name of Tesla and knew that he was far-sighted and a great inventor. Many rock fans will remember the group "Tesla" and their album "The Great Radio Controversy". I only mention this because I feel it opened the door for a great many young people to have an interest in Tesla.
This book was engrossing from start to finish. The number of patents, the ideas he presented so far ahead of his time and the inventions he brought forth literally changed the world. He does not get credit for most of what he did. He was just recently added to the Smithsonian Museum for his invention of the radio which many still believe was invented by Marconi. And children are still taught in school that "Thomas Edison invented electricity" but in fact the type of of electrity we use today was put forth by Tesla.
His awesome intelligence invented so many components of micro technology that inventors for years after did not comprehend. For instance, this book brings for the facts that "Inventors of modern computer technology in the last half of the twentieth century repeatedly have been surprised, when seeking patents, to encounter Tesla's basic ones, already on file."
To list Nikola Tesla's ideas, discoveries and inventions would take an entire book in itself but some included the Atom Smasher, X-Rays, Radio, electro-magnetic power, AC electricity, Solar Heating, Vacuum Tubes, Remote Control Vehicles, Torpedoes, Force Fields, Microwave Transmissions, Diathormy, High Voltage Conducters, Wireless Communications, World Wide Broadcasting Systems, Flying Saucers, Transisters, The Atomic Clock, Cosmic Rays, Phosphorescent Lighting, The Heating Pat, Robots, Liquid Oxygen, Under Ground Power LInes, Cryogenics, Radar, Guided Missiles, Automobile Speedometer, Highway Systems, Parking Garages, Interplanetary Communications, Laser Beams, Death Rays, Modern Warfare, Geothermal Steam Plants, and the list can go on and on. He once produced an earth quake in New York City and blew out electric plants in Colorado with his experiments. He was so far ahead of his time that the US Air Force is still researching his ideas and the US Government, in posession of his papers, denies that they have any of his notes. What they did acknowledge they had is still classified.
Nikola Tesla was a dapper man who spoke eight languages fluently and onced signed away riches for the benefit of a friend (George Westinghouse) who had supported him in the past. He was a naturalized U.S. citizen and this he considered his greatest accomplishement. His experiments through most of his life were constanty in need of funds and he approached the US Government several times. One can only wonder what might have come of his knowledge if the government had agreed to fund him. Thankfully his devotion was to the United States because both Russia and Germany approached him and he turned them down. As it turns out the US Government expressed much more interest in his experiments after his death than when he was alive. Apparently taking his notes and classifying them and also moving forward in his ideas.
This book presents a great overview with a little insight into his experiments. It covers the man, the experiments, his friends and his times. It's a great introduction to Nikola Tesla and I highly recommend it to anyone who is searching for the truth about historic inventions. Big companies and powerful men continued to keep Tesla's inventions either ignored, ridiculed (until later knowledge proved them right) or stolen so he could not profit to the full extent that he should have. A study in the down side of capitalism.
Buy this book, open your ideas, enjoy history and think about what you have been taught. Fascinating!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating biography for any physicist or engineer, May 27 2002
This review is from: Tesla: Man Out of Time (Paperback)
Nikola Tesla, a Serbian immigrant to America, was a strange man. He was frequently referred to in the press as a 'mad genius', and previous biographies have been sensational, rather than informative.
Tesla thought in pictures rather than words (like Einstein) and had a photographic memory until well into his adult life. At least three of his senses, hearing, sight and touch, were sufficiently over-developed that they caused him physical discomfort. He was an intuitive thinker: he grasped concepts as a whole, and then worked backwards, painfully and not always successfully, to realize the practical details that would utilize his grand ideas. He was able to model and test equipment in his head, rotating it as needed and putting it through its paces, so that when the equipment was finally built, it worked perfectly the first time.
The problem, admitted by biographer Cheney, is that an inventor who goes directly from mental concept to patent papers leaves a thin trail behind him as to his thought processes. The constant need to obtain funding for his experiments and the legal ramifications of being first to patent new ideas, meant that Tesla -- already a loner by nature -- was driven to keep his work as secret as possible. Cheney finally located his private papers in a government department, out of sight under lock and key.
Tesla was more of a scientist than the purely practical Edison, his main competitor for funding. Although some of his more famous patents -- the Tesla coil and 'polyphase' (i.e. alternating current) electricity -- became the foundation of American engineering before World War II, other patents were filed and not followed up on as Tesla lost interest in them. He filed patents for a transistor and for wireless broadcasting. But it was Shockley et al who build the first working modern computers (and received the Nobel prize) and Marconi who transmitted the first long-distance wireless messages and is generally recognized as the founder of modern broadcasting.
Biographer Cheney has presented as much of the material on Tesla's life as seems currently available except, of course, for the patents themselves, which are publicly available. It is up to us, the readers, to try and understand how the mind of this inventive genius worked based on our own knowledge of both science and psychology. That doesn't seem an unreasonable chore on behalf of a man who once said:
"I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success."
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fails to Illuminate the Man, Dec 1 2001
By 
This review is from: Tesla: Man Out of Time (Paperback)
This book reads more like a very long feature article for a newspaper than a biography. Nikola Tesla is fascinating because of his revolutionary and fantastical ideas. He never became rich and powerful because he was too busy racking up incredible new ideas, and never converted his ideas to commercial use (like his nemesis Thomas Edison). Tesla invented alternating current, and had a chance to make royalties from each and every use of AC by the public (potentially worth billions), but signed the royalties away to preserve his friendships with industrial titans. He discovered most of the concepts of radio, but lost a messy war of words and patent lawsuits with Marconi and Edison. He invented remote control and key aspects of robotics, and envisioned (in the late 1800's) a worldwide wireless communications system that companies are still trying to develop to this day. In fact, modern scientists often "discover" new phenomena that Tesla brought up so long ago that nobody remembers his work and fails to give him credit. This is why Tesla continues to be so under-appreciated. On the more outlandish side, Tesla theorized that he could utilize the electrical charges in the Earth's atmosphere to turn the entire planet into a giant fluorescent light bulb; and with his concept of mechanical resonance he theorized that he could create vibrations to destroy buildings or even split the Earth in two. He could electrify the Earth itself and make the soil crackle for miles around. This was when people started calling him a madman. Another interesting aspect of Tesla was his participation is high society, as he spent much of his life schmoozing rich benefactors for capital. Few scientists of his caliber today would be such social climbers.
Now what kind of a mind would lead to such a fascinating personality and such incredible ideas? You still can't tell, because Margaret Cheney fails to illuminate Tesla the man in this book. This biography is essentially the work of a reporter who has rehashed freely available information into the form of a special interest article in a local newspaper. There is more focus on Tesla's social calls and financial transactions than his ideas or personality. The book often digresses into useless detective work on the handling of Tesla's papers by various government agencies after his death, or descriptions of the current use of his ideas that read more like bizarre advertisements for the modern companies involved. One of the few attempts to provide insight into his personality is a completely ridiculous treatise stating that Tesla's hobby of caring for pigeons is related to a lack of breastfeeding as a baby. Of course, more information on how Tesla came up with his amazing ideas, and the workings of his unusual mind, is probably impossible to obtain, and this is not Cheney's fault. However, this biography is not very useful without it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars What a fascinating man! And what a dull book!, Oct. 18 2001
By 
J. GARRATT - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tesla: Man Out of Time (Paperback)
The only physics I took was in the 12th grade. It was almost entirely over my head and will be for the remainder of my life, but I really found it to be interesting and a little bit exciting. We even got to watch some of those Cal Tech lectures on video.
For our book report, every other lucky duck in the class got their mits on Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman. I took Man out of Time, since it was available at the library and was on the list of books possible for reports.
And my goodness! What did Tesla ever *not* do?! This guy laid down the law in more scientific fields than you can shake a stick at, or a tree branch for that matter. If genius is measured in insanity, then Telsa was stark-raving mad.
But this book was dry as a bone. It's no wonder it didn't catch fire while I was reading it. The tone and language seemed to repeat itself and non of the experiments and/or life anecdotes came to life through Cheney's telling of his story. This book was a chore to read from page one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tesla, Man Out of Time, Dec 31 2000
By 
D. Postich (California, USA) - See all my reviews
Excellent introductory work on one of the most brilliant scientists of the 19-th and 20-th Centuries.
Nikola Tesla is a fellow who gave us the System of Electrical Power (Generators, Motors, High-Tension Transmission Lines, Fluorescent Light) that lights our homes, runs our factories, trains, cars, our hydro power plants.
He opened our eyes and gave us pointers to follow with his basic patents in Radio, Robotics, Energy utilization, Communication, High-Energy and Plasma Physics, and many other areas of science and technology.
In addition to the above, as it was not enough, Tesla's genius ventured into many other fields. Over 400 US and Foreign Patents bear his name in the fields as diverse as "AND Gate" without our computers would not work, Bladeless Turbine with high efficiency, High-Frequency Heating Pads used in medical treatment of cancer, High-Voltage Coils that spark our gasoline powered car engines, and ... Please read the book!
Mrs. Cheyenne did excellent job in researching the material used to write the book. Someone in the field of electrical engineering might think that she graduated in Electrical Engineering, or Physics. For an amateur scientist reader the book is a very good source of references for further reading and study.
This book is a very good material for a high-school student that wants to enter the Electrical Engineering or Physics World.
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Tesla: Man Out of Time
Tesla: Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney (Paperback - Oct. 9 2001)
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