Book Review: Tesla, the Wizard of Electricity
Updated: Aug 9, 2018
Let's be real: Nikola Tesla is a super interesting guy! If anyone could be considered a "mad scientist" it would be this guy. And if you want to learn about him - this is a good book to start with.
I know what you're thinking..."I've heard something about Tesla, but I don't really know much about him and I'm not a science person...so why should I read this book?". Well, for one - this book is not your normal book. It's like a biography meets comic book meets vintage newspaper clippings meets vintage blueprints. In other words, this book (like Tesla himself) is a bit eccentric. You won't get bored easily, and the reading is easy to follow.
The story starts on the night Nikola Tesla was born: "Precisely at midnight...a lightening bolt crackled from the sky and lit up the house just as Nikola entered this world. Startled, the midwife turned to the young mother and said 'Your new son is a child of the storm.' 'No [responded his mother] he is a child of the light.' And so it seems that, from the beginning, Nikola Tesla was destined to electrify the world."
This biography tells his story - painting a picture of him as a person more than just simply a chronological timeline of his life or simply a detailed explanation of his scientific work.
The reader gets a glimpse inside Tesla's mischievous, inventive, curious, obssessive, compulsive, germophobic, genius.
It begs the reader to see him as a truly world changing genius who was ahead of his time, but had some serious personality quirks and difficulties he had to deal with. Tesla had some odd behaviors and eccentricities like requiring waiters to bring him 18 napkins at meals. Another odd behavior: visiting nearby parks allowing hundreds of pigeons to rest on and surround him while he fed them yet avoiding human contact and throwing away expensive custom tailored clothes after just one week of use for fear of germs. He also worked obsessively . He woke early and stayed up almost until the next morning, only taking a few hours of sleep each night - a manic practice that his college professor feared would kill him if no one stopped him.
Beyond these difficulties and quirks - Nikola Tesla was a scientific genius.
To this day, his alternating current system is the basis for today's electrical grid. He lived in the late 1800's and yet he envisioned what we now call smartphones. In his experiments with communication and light, he went wireless before the world was wired. He was so beyond his time. In fact, to this day his "world wireless system" that would use the Earth as a conductor, essentially allowing the world's population to literally plug in anywhere and have "free energy" with no wires still has not been developed or put in place.
While I think that most people would enjoy this book, I should say that there are a couple of scenes described that show the tragic history of Thomas Edison's smear campaign. A campaign that involved showing the dangers of electricity.
The Verdict: As a whole - I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It did a good job of really showing how unlike Thomas Edison, his focus was much more on the science and curiosities rather than the profit or business end of inventions. I found it incredibly intriguing and worth the read.
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