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on March 10, 2003
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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on September 8, 2002
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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on April 23, 2004
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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on January 3, 1999
Ms. Cheney introduces the legendary inventor through stories from his life. Later on, the book focuses more on the technical aspects of his life (e.g. patents).
The book is complete with several photographs of the inventor and related material, and it lends itself wonderfully to any reader's understanding and awe.
I believe it is imperative for anyone who wishes to know the real stories of radio, alternating current, and the induction motor to read about how these marvellous developments sprung out of Nikola Tesla's creative mind.
"TESLA: Man Out of Time" is quite current, and the fascinating information therein is objective, allowing the reader to form his own opinions.
Indeed, everyone I know who was read this book wants to hear more of the man who invented the 20th century!
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on June 1, 2002
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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on June 3, 2004
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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on October 28, 2003
Tesla was an fascinating but often overlooked historical figure His inventions are still the basis of all major electrical power systems around the world. His later work often seemed fanciful/extravagent though -- perhaps prone to hyperbole in order to attract investors, he seemed to be facinated by very high voltage electricity. This books does a fine job of summarizing the character and work of "the great man" and reveals many -- but not all -- of the mysteries surrounding him.
Recommended to those interested in history, invention, engineering or science.
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on January 13, 1997
Nikola Tesla, much maligned by historians, is given a fair treatment in this
exhaustively researched biography. The inventor of the three phase AC power system,
radio, and remote controls, is examined in depth in this biography. This book is
essential reading for anyone who once thought that Marconi invented radio, or that
Edison was responsible for our electrical power. It details the AC vs. DC
argument that raged just before the turn of the century, and explains quite a bit
about the man to whom humanity owes so much, yet know so little about.
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on October 11, 1998
I have read this book twice and I intend to read it again. Nikola Tesla would have been better remembered in the history books had he not crossed the path of one Thomas Edison. This book covers from his humble beginings to being the toast of the town. Rubbing elbows with J P Morgan and Mark Twain. HIs World Fair show to his mysterious death ray. His main goal was to transmit power like radio waves ! And he came very close to reaching his goal. Cheney explores the man and his inventions. Very deep detail. Great reading
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on September 8, 1997
This book provides great insight into one of the greatest minds since Atlantis! It reveals Tesla as idealist and inventor, as humanitarian and eccentric. He was genius 100 years ahead of his time.

This book fired a quest in me to discover more about Nikola Tesla. I researched Tesla on the WWW and joined the Tesla Engine Buiders Assoc. as I was reading this book. A "must read".
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