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Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla [Kindle Edition]

John J. O'Neill
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Even the gods of old, in the wildest imaginings of their worshipers, never undertook such gigantic tasks of world-wide dimension as those which Tesla attempted and accomplished.
-from Chapter One

First published in 1944 and long a favorite of Tesla fans, this is a definitive biography of the man without whom modern civilization would not exist.

Nikola Tesla, pioneer of electrical engineering, was a close friend of Pulitzer Prize-winning author O'Neill, and here, O'Neill captures the man as a scientist and as a public figure, exploring:

. how Tesla's father inspired his life in engineering
. why Tesla clung to his theories of electricity in the face of opposition
. how the shy but newly popular Tesla navigated the social life of New York in the gay 1890s
. Tesla's friendship with Mark Twain
. the story of Tesla's lost Nobel Prize
. Tesla's dabblings in the paranormal
. and much more.

JOHN JOSEPH O'NEILL (b. 1889) also wrote Engineering the New Age and You and the Universe: What Science Reveals.

Editorial Reviews


"John O'Neil understands me better than any man alive." -- Nikola Tesla

About the Author

Tesla, pioneer of electrical engineering, was a close friend of Pulitzer Prize-winning author O'Neill, JOHN JOSEPH O'NEILL (b. 1889- d. 1955)) also wrote Engineering the New Age and You and the Universe: What Science Reveals.

Product Details

  • File Size: 4234 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Cosimo Classics (November 1, 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001B0TDGA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #953,081 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who was Nikola Tesla? Here's your answer... January 2, 1997
By A Customer
If you've never read anything by or about Tesla, or even if
you've only read his technical writings, here's the book that will
answer your questions about Tesla.

Written from the point of view of someone who knew him, Prodigal Genius
gives an amazing glimpse into the personality of this remarkable inventor.
There are lengthy passages about his childhood and early career including how
he got cheated out of $20,000 for inventing alternating current.
There are also thought-provoking stories about how some of his inventions
backfired and almost shook down a city block or two!

Even if you're not a Tesla nut, Prodigal Genius is a great read--it's exciting enough
that it's hard to put down. If you weren't a Tesla nut when you picked it up, you will be when you put it down!
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65 of 75 people found the following review helpful
This book tells the fascinating story of an amazing Serbian boy, Nikola Tesla, who was born in 1856, in the area we now call Bosnia. The author explains how Tesla's accomplishments brought forth our modern electrical power era and provide the foundation for the industrial system on which the entire world is built.

Tesla's mother could repeat, without error or omission, thousands of verses of the national poetry of her country. Tesla shared her retentive memory. He had another ability that he only revealed to his mother. If Tesla thought of an object, it would appear before him exhibiting the appearance of solidity and massiveness. He used this ability to visualize the solution to creating the first alternating current generator.

The first time Tesla's ability to visualize helped him in his quest to develop an alternating current generator, occurred when he suggested to a college professor that alternating current would solve some of the problems with a piece of electrical equipment that could be used either to generate electricity or if supplied energy could operate as a motor. As his professor demonstrated the machine, the solution to the problem came to Tesla in such a vivid, illuminating flash of understanding that he knew his visualization contained the correct and practical answer. He saw both the equipment operating without the problems and doing so efficiently, however, he could not see the essential details of how this could be accomplished.

In Feb of 1882, Tesla took a walk in the city of Budapest with a former classmate. While a glorious sunset overspread the sky, Tesla engaged in one of his favorite hobbies-reciting poetry.
Read more ›
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is an experience that will change your life. November 24, 1998
By A Customer
Here is a story of a man born in the glorious womb of science, a man who so completely understood the laws of nature and the scientific method that he commanded total dominion over the physical universe.
Once you read this book you will find it difficult to name an aspect of modern life that hasn't been affected by the hand of Nikola Tesla.
Some of Tesla's ideas were so far ahead of his time that to the people of his day, they were considered impossible; his vision of the world of the future was mocked and laughed at even by other scientists. Over time scepticism about the possibilities of science and technology has waned. Unfortunately for us the world was not yet ready for Tesla, this man out of time, and he died with his greatest achievments alive only in his mind.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla is the amazing true-life biography of inventor extraordinaire Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), a friend of Mark Twain and George Westinghouse, and a rival of Thomas Edison. Tesla invented the AC electrical current; his talent for inventions and scientific advancement was enhanced by his ability to visualize three-dimensional images of his inventions, saving money and effort on prototype constructions. Though his prodigal talents brought him great wealth and recognition - he made his first million before he turned forty - he refused to accept the Nobel Prize, chose to give away his royalties as a token of friendship, and died nearly penniless. His dream was to provide the world with sources of energy and wonders of technology that were free to enrich the lives of all, rather than fuel the profit margin of corporate sponsors. Yet for his selfless ideals, he received derision and disdain. Written by John J. O'Neill, a personal friend of Tesla's, and originally published in 1944, Prodigal Genius remains the seminal biography of a staunchly ethical man of science, who deserves far more honor than history has given him.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected a better read October 18, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book was originally published (or at least written) in 1944, by a friend/colleague of Tesla, who inserts himself into the storyline a bit too often. The author obviously idolized Tesla, and even in pointing out his flaws does so in a way that largley minimizes them. The story of Tesla's life, achievements, and oddities is truly remarkable, but I had hoped for a much better written account. The writing style seemed rather awkward to me, especially early in the book, and I found it to be distracting. The author engages in a good deal of speculation and moralizing, presents a very partial and stereotyped picture of Tesla.

It's certainly not all bad, and the personal insight of the author is at times appreciated. But, to sum it up, it is (and feels like) a book written by a science editor, not a biographer.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Haven't read. Won't. False publishing date. Claims 2008. Actual 1944.
Haven't read. Won't. False publishing date on copyright page. Claims 2008. Actual 1944. No matter its worth or lack, I dislike liars, and resent being manipulated. Read more
Published 2 months ago by PR
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely fantastic book, and i'm glad i purchased the large ...
absolutely fantastic book, and i'm glad i purchased the large font version. the font really isn't that large, and it makes the text much easier to read... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rachel S.
5.0 out of 5 stars no wonder a car company is named after him
Goes into detail about his life work. Explains why he was such a brilliant mind. Worth your time. Check out the comic by the oatmeal as well. Read more
Published 4 months ago by chase
5.0 out of 5 stars Person loved it. Tesla was a unique man
Given as a gift. Person loved it. Tesla was a unique man.
Published 7 months ago by Linda Doncaster
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
never knew how much this guy did to advance electricity and power before I read this book.
Published 10 months ago by oil guy with a manual mower
5.0 out of 5 stars Prodigal Genius: The LIfe of Nikola Tesla
The writer"s enthusiasm for Nikolad Testl is obvious from page one. He has a writing style that drags you into his life and his highs and lows so much so that it is hard to put... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars well written book of Tesla
o"neil knows the man and that era. It Shows how the evolution of Tesla and his inventions were going to change the world but the power brokers didn't like the change that could... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Just call me all things Tesla
I love reading the fiction, and especially reading the bio and auto-bio, as well as all the ideas, theories and inventions. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Raymond L Herbst
5.0 out of 5 stars Part of American and world history.
This is an excellent and definitive account of Tessla's life and work. While I know little about the properties of electricity I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it quite... Read more
Published on May 3, 2013 by Blaisep
4.0 out of 5 stars Buried by big business for obvious reasons, to conceal their greed as...
A very productive mega genius out to help mankind and buried in history by big business interested in only self gain. Read more
Published on May 3, 2013 by electriczipper
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