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Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla (Cosimo Classics Biography) Hardcover – August 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"John O'Neil understands me better than any man alive." -- Nikola Tesla --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

John O'Neill, with William Laurence, Howard Blakeslee, Gobind Behari Lal and David Dietz won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Reporting "for their coverage of science at the tercentenary of Harvard University --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Cosimo Classics Biography
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Cosimo Classics (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602067430
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602067431
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,783,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 1997
Format: Paperback
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 By Louise Cate on October 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
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 By Midwest Book Review on July 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
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 By MT on 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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