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

134 customer reviews

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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.

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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: 9.2 x 6.7 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,230,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 125 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


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

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142 of 149 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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57 of 62 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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67 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Dan on September 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book's strongest suit is its history of Tesla's business dealings, and his meetings with other famous individuals of his era. The author obviously conducted a great deal of research. On the other hand, I found myself wishing for a clearer explanation of which of Tesla's ideas were clearly scientific advances, and which were fantasy or unworkable. Unfortunately, the author sometimes discusses his own belief in ESP and other pseudoscience, which calls into question his overall credibility.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Bogdan Kosanovic on January 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
Marc did great job covering life and work of Nikola Tesla, a serbian-american inventor who made great contributions to modern science and engineering. Book covers all of the important aspects of Tesla's inventions and scientific discoveries. It covers the broader historical background and explains the importance of Tesla's work to a great detail. It is also very good at explaining "mysteries" surrounding Tesla's personal life. It presents Tesla both as one of the greatest scientist ever as well as a human being. This book is so good since it makes the right balance between technical information (very accurate, with rich bibliography) and Tesla's personal life and social interactions. Therefore it is interesting for both serious scientists who would like to learn from Tesla's work as well as for general population who would like to learn about this extraordinary personality.
Overall, this is the number one book on Tesla so far. The best starting point and reference regarding Tesla's life and work.
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