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Tesla: Man Out of Time Paperback – October 9, 2001

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Editorial Reviews


Discover A dramatic and poignant portrait.

American Scientist Excellent...a significant contribution to the recent history of science...informative and delightful to read.

Publishers Weekly Well documented, sympathetic, and engaging.

Choice Cheney's excellent biography of one of the most idiosyncratic and truly enigmatic "scientists" is both comprehensive and well written...very warmly recommended.

The Sunday Times, London Uncommonly colorful...absorbing.

About the Author

Margaret Cheney is a biographer of unusual versatility. In addition to her two major studies of Tesla (most recently Tesla: Master of Lightning, with Robert Uth), she has written Midnight at Mabel's, a biography of the great cabaret singer and song stylist Mabel Mercer. Cheney is also the author of Meanwhile Farm and Why: The Serial Killer in America. She lives in California.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1 edition (October 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743215362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743215367
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (210 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

290 of 310 people found the following review helpful By TheHighlander on June 1, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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248 of 271 people found the following review helpful By Alan A. Donovan on January 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
Cheney paints a rich portrait of the character of Nikola Tesla, Mad Scientist---or at least Eccentric Inventor, providing ample detail of his bizarre manners, his proficiency at gambling and billiards, his astonishing hubris, his society appearances, and his (putative) unrequited love.

However, Tesla was foremost an inventor, not an eccentric, and so the content and context of his inventions should be foremost in any biography of him. It's clear that despite this being Cheney's second book on Tesla, she simply does not understand the technical content of Tesla's work. For the reader, this is merely unfortunate. What is inexcusable, and intellectually dishonest, is that Cheney plagiarizes the writings of Tesla himself---unattributed verbatim copying---to provide explanations where she herself is unable. And not even good ones, at that.

Here are two examples. The first appears on page 37 and refers to Tesla's bladeless turbine:

What he built was a cylinder freely rotatable on two bearings and partly surrounded by a rectangular trough which fit it perfectly. The open side of the trough was closed by a partition and the cylindrical segment divided into two compartments entirely separated from each other by airtight sliding joints. One of these compartments being sealed and exhausted of air, the other remaining open, perpetual rotation of the cylinder would result---or so the inventor thought.

This paragraph was lifted verbatim from "My Inventions" by Nikola Tesla (Filiquarian, 2006; p. 32) without attribution. (In the original, the last words were "at least, I thought so".
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183 of 207 people found the following review helpful By Robert Carlberg on May 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Tesla was such a fascinating scientist -- trailblazing, mysterious and quirky -- that it would be hard to write a boring book about him. Cheney's bio, however, makes a valiant attempt.
Her material is poorly organized. She jumps back and forth in time, from the young Tesla to the old Tesla, with no warning or pattern. She jumps around in subjects almost as willfully. Her treatment of Tesla is reverent and laudatory one minute, dismissive and belittling the next.
She gives almost no firm dates, so I found myself often bewildered about exactly which Tesla was being discussed. Her description of Tesla's science makes it clear that she was no scientist herself, and in fact makes Tesla's accomplishments all the harder to decipher. And most damning of all, she alludes to Tesla's odd habits and personal quirks, but never once comes right out and describes them.
Tesla's story makes for a fascinating biography, but Cheney's may not be it.
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109 of 130 people found the following review helpful By William Van Hefner VINE VOICE on September 8, 2002
Format: 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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