Michel de Montaigne said “Obsession is the wellspring of genius and madness”. Tesla had bucket loads of all three! There is no denying he possessed genius, he was one of the most intelligent people to walk planet earth. Yet sometimes he was overtaken by compulsions, eccentricity.
He was born in 1856 at the stroke of midnight during a lightening storm, it would prove prophetic as his life was often tied to harnessing the power of electricity in ways unimagined during his era. His family was poor, Serbian, his father a priest in the Serbian Orthodox Church. They lived in a small Croatian village where their neighbors were Roman Catholic. Tesla was smart, exceedingly so, from a young age. By the time he was in his twenties, he invented a totally new way to power motors. That was just one of the hundreds of inventions he patented.
Tesla was fluent in English, Serbo-Croatian, Czech, Hungarian, German, French, Italian, and Latin. He could quote poetry extensively. Liked animals. Brilliant but not a great negotiator, nor someone good at shepherding wealth. By the time he was in his 80’s, he lived a reclusive life in a New York hotel, nearly penniless. He was not only a genius; he was an interesting guy. History owes him remembrance.— Deon Stonehouse
"[A] penetrating biography…Munson makes vivid the genius’s eventful life." —Barbara Kiser, Nature
Nikola Tesla invented radio, robots, and remote control. His electric induction motors run our appliances and factories. In the early 1900s, he designed plans for cell phones, the Internet, death-ray weapons, and interstellar communication. His ideas have lived on to shape the modern economy, yet he has been largely overlooked by history. In Tesla, Richard Munson presents a comprehensive portrait of this farsighted and underappreciated mastermind. Drawing on letters, technological notebooks, and other primary sources, Munson pieces together the magnificently bizarre personal life and mental habits of the enigmatic inventor whose most famous inventions were the product of a mind fueled by both the humanities and sciences—Tesla conceived the induction motor while walking through a park and reciting Goethe’s Faust. Clear, authoritative, and highly readable, Tesla takes into account all the phases of Tesla’s remarkable life and career.
About the Author
Richard Munson is the author of several books, including From Edison to Enron and Cousteau: The Captain and His World. Based in Chicago, Illinois, he directs Environmental Defense Fund’s clean-energy efforts in the Midwest.
Tesla’s life was rich in fascinating incident and characters—and, above all, spectacle.… Munson tells the story engagingly.
— Thomas Morris - Times Literary Supplement
A detailed and vivid glimpse of the competitive world of electrical innovation at the end of the 19th century.
— Christopher Priest - Spectator