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Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla : Biography of a Genius Hardcover – November, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 542 pages
  • Publisher: Citadel; First edition (November 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559723297
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559723299
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.5 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Seifer's vivid, revelatory, exhaustively researched biography rescues pioneer inventor Nikola Tesla from cult status and restores him to his rightful place as a principal architect of the modern age. Based largely on firsthand documents including Tesla's writings, his patents and those of competitors, it credits the Croatian-born Serb, who moved to New York in 1884, with the invention of the induction motor, long-distance electrical power distribution, fluorescent and neon lights, the first true radio tube and remote control, besides making vital contributions to the technology underlying television, wireless communication, robotics, lasers, the facsimile machine and particle-beam weaponry anticipating the space-based "Star Wars" defensive shield. Though often depicted as a recluse, flamboyant nouveau-riche Tesla (1856-1943) lived in Manhattan's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for two decades, and hobnobbed with architect Sanford White, Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, conservationist John Muir, mogul John Jacob Astor III, Swami Vivekananda. Yet the electronic wizard, who competed fiercely with Marconi and with his one-time employer Edison, became swamped in debt, abandoned by a world he helped create, ending his days in seedy poverty, a bitter, anorexic eccentric obsessed with feeding pigeons and avoiding germs. Seifer, who teaches psychology at Community College of Rhode Island, attributes Tesla's downfall partly to his megalomaniacal, neurotic, self-destructive tendencies, partly to a quagmire of litigation and also to his Faustian pact with his ambivalent benefactor, Wall Street financier J. Pierpont Morgan, to whom he relinquished control of several patents. Morgan, suggests Seifer, stymied Tesla's visionary scheme for a global, wireless power-distribution system because, if realized, it would jeopardize electrical, lighting and telephone monopolies. Seifer provides the fullest account yet of Tesla as an entrepreneur, experimental physicist and inventor. Photos.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Nikola Tesla is credited by many as the inventor of radio and should have received most of the credit for the development of modern electricity. Yet there is considerable confusion about his technical contributions and even more about his personal life. This book, by a professor of psychology at Bristol Community College and a member of the International Tesla Society, painstakingly documents Tesla's wide-ranging contributions. Born in Croatia, Tesla emigrated to the United States in 1884 and almost immediately began work on alternatives to what was then accepted as standard electrical technology. This brought him into conflict with Edison and later Westinghouse. The pattern of conflict continued for nearly 60 years, partially because Tesla was far ahead of his time, partially because he was erratic and off-beat, and partially because he was not an astute business partner. Seifer has analyzed extensive sources, many not previously used by other Tesla biographers, to provide a detailed interpretation of his life, but the fact that he also incorporates extensive handwriting analysis to arrive at several of his conclusions will certainly cause some reader concern. For larger science and biography collections.?Hilary Burton, Lawrence Livermore National Lab., Livermore, Cal.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Marc J. Seifer, PhD has been a handwriting expert for more than 35 years and was editor-in-chief of The Journal of the American Society of Professional Graphologists for more than a decade. He has worked for the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office and Crime Laboratory, the Department of Defense, Undersea Warfare, United Parcel Service, and numerous banks, insurance agencies, and lawyers. He was featured on the History Channel discussing the Howard Hughes Mormon Will and on Associated Press International TV on the handwriting of bin Laden. He has lectured at Oxford University, Cambridge University, Brandeis, Cranbrook Retreat, and numerous conferences around the world. Dr. Seifer teaches psychology and forensic graphology at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Customer Reviews

The book is disjointed at times, and in need of proofreading.
Mike Morgan
Marc Seifer provides a vivid and intimate look into the life of one of history's most influential inventors, Nikola Tesla.
D. Coronacion
Yet he died without ever achieving the financial rewards one would expect for a man who was truly ahead of his time.
D. Ross

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Lilly on December 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Seifer expresses that the key reason he wrote Wizard was to try and answer many of the questions left unanswered by the other authors. In particular he focuses in on why Tesla's name dropped into obscurity, whether or not he really received signals from Mars, how his magnifying transmitter really worked, what exactly happened to cause his failure with JP Morgan,what happened to his top secret papers and also the book explains exactly how his particle beam weapon have really worked.

One of the book's strengths is that it is set up completely

chronologically. Thus you can cue into any year and oftentimes particular months of Tesla's life. Every chapter also begins with a neat quote. I turned to the back and counted over 1400 endnotes including 400 personal letters. This is the real deal, much of it in Tesla's actual words.

One of the neatest sections was a discussion of of how Tesla's

early lectures in the 1890's pre-dated Rutherford, Bohr and Einstein in theories on the structure of the atom and on what came to be called Quantum physics. Jumping ahead 20 years, Seifer reveals that during WWI, Franklin Roosevelt, as Secretary of the Navy, used Tesla's priority patents in wireless to combat Marconi's contention that the Navy was stealing Marconi's

invention.

Seifer goes on to show that Tesla was selling wireless technology to the Germans during WWI and that this apparatus was used to coordinate submarine movements at that time. Later, during WWII, Tesla also apparently worked with the US war department to give them the invention of the particle beam

weapon.
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136 of 143 people found the following review helpful By D. Ross on December 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
Seifer's comprehensive look at Nikola Tesla is unexpected. It is neither dry, formulaic or predictable - even for those familiar with the enigmatic genius. Simply put, it is fascinating, exciting reading. Tesla was credited with the invention of modern AC power generation, remote control, fundamental advances in radio, wireless voice- and data-transfer, the first laser, advanced flight concepts, and a myriad of other inventions. Yet he died without ever achieving the financial rewards one would expect for a man who was truly ahead of his time.
Taking advantage of ill-defined intellectual property laws and the vagaries of international court systems, other well-known inventors such as Pupin, Marconi, and Steinmetz either "borrowed" his discoveries or helped write him out of the history books. While many rode Tesla's coattails to public recognition and, often, staggering financial success - the great man was left penniless and alone.
Seifer pulls no punches. Tesla made a series of startling gaffes. From ill-conceived contracts with Westinghouse (leaving him with no ongoing revenue from his discovery of the AC polyphase system) to poor management of critical projects backed by J.P. Morgan, Tesla disappointed his financiers time and time again. Lack of prioritization, spinning off in too many directions simultaneously, poor project management - all contributed to Tesla's inability to achieve the breakthrough he needed (and deserved) for true financial independence.
Seifer covers Tesla's life in exceptional detail. His bizarre work habits (often sleeping only two hours a night), his odd social life (never married and apparently a lifelong celibate), and his many other idiosyncrasies are described with fascinating anecdotes. You don't need to be an Electrical Engineer, or a Scientist, or even technically savvy to thoroughly enjoy _Wizard_. In a nutshell: superb.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Clarke Waldron on April 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
I value this book highly because of its even-handedness in its treatment of Nikola Tesla. Virtually every thing stated by Mr. Seifer is documented. After all, this book is the result of his doctoral dissertation.

The subject of the book is treated as a believeable human being. Assuredly, he was a genius; but the author fairly points out when Tesla may have missed the mark. The author neither blindly worships nor blindly condemns Nikola Tesla.

Because this is a biography, it does not go into depth about Nikola Tesla's inventions; Enough information is presented as is necessary to the story.

I am thankful that I have encountered this book because it is based upon truth.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Mike Morgan on January 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sadly, I decided to purchase this book after reading a free kindle sample. I wish I had read the negative reviews before wasting my money.

One negative reviewer wrote: "...I would describe the technical portion of this book as a good joke..." Another reviewer wrote: "Unfortunately, the author sometimes discusses his own belief in ESP and other pseudoscience, which calls into question his overall credibility." After reading this book, I concur with both statements. In my view, the author doesn't understand enough about electromagnetism and electricity to attempt to evaluate Tesla's technical contributions.

The book's author, responding to another negative Amazon reviewer, wrote: "[the amazon reviewer] obviously did not read the book, so how could he comment?...Concerning the structure of the book, it is a strict chronology, so his comment about it's [sic] organization is also absurd."

"It's organization" Get that? Normally I don't pick on such grammatical errors, but when an author promotes his own wanting work as "serious scholarship" (see below), I cannot resist.

In any event, it seems likely the author has not read his own book. If he had, he would have known that it contains misplaced paragraphs, as though they were cut and randomly pasted into the wrong section of a chapter. The book is disjointed at times, and in need of proofreading.

The author also defends his book here on Amazon by quotemining a printed review of his book with: "That is why Scientific American called the book 'Serious Scholarship.
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