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1 Burnside History of Science- Technology

The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World

by

The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:


At the height of his fame Thomas Alva Edison was hailed as “the Napoleon of invention” and blazed in the public imagination as a virtual demigod. Newspapers proclaimed his genius in glowing personal profiles and quipped that “the doctor has been called” because the great man “has not invented anything since breakfast.” Starting with the first public demonstrations of the phonograph in 1878 and extending through the development of incandescent light, a power generation and distribution system to sustain it, and the first motion picture cameras (all achievements more astonishing in their time than we can easily grasp today) Edison’s name became emblematic of all the wonder and promise of the emerging age of technological marvels.

But as Randall Stross makes clear in this critical biography of the man who is arguably the most globally famous of all Americans, Thomas Edison’s greatest invention may have been his own celebrity. Edison was certainly a technical genius, but Stross excavates the man from layers of myth-making and separates his true achievements from his almost equally colossal failures. How much credit should Edison receive for the various inventions that have popularly been attributed to him—and how many of them resulted from both the inspiration and the perspiration of his rivals and even his own assistants? How much of Edison’s technical skill helped him overcome a lack of business acumen and feel for consumers’ wants and needs?

This bold reassessment of Edison’s life and career answers these and many other important questions while telling the story of how he came upon his most famous inventions as a young man and spent the remainder of his long life trying to conjure similar success. We also meet his partners and competitors, presidents and entertainers, his close friend Henry Ford, the wives who competed with his work for his attention, and the children who tried to thrive in his shadow, all providing a fuller view of Edison’s life and times than has ever been offered before. The Wizard of Menlo Park reveals not only how Edison worked, but how he managed his own fame, becoming the first great celebrity of the modern age.

Review:

"In this entertaining biography, Stross (eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work) approaches the life of Edison from an atypical angle: where scores of other biographers have focused on the genius's technical career, Stross presents Edison as the first self-conscious celebrity, a man deeply aware of the media's power and who wasn't afraid to use 'the press's hunger for more sensational discoveries for his own ends.' Though branding is now second-nature for famous people (and their handlers), Stross asserts that Edison launched the first successful branding campaign-an achievement arguably further ahead of its time than much of his technical output-by embracing the title 'Wizard of Menlo Park,' which was coined by a reporter during Edison's brief stay in that New Jersey town. With preternatural skill in image-management, Edison became indistinguishable from his moniker, encapsulating perfectly the air of mystery and wisdom he cultivated throughout his life, for both himself and his 'invention factory,' which 'seemed capable of mastering anything.' Stross's clear-eyed biography will show readers why, even at the end of the 20th century, Edison remains, outside the U.S., the best-known American ever." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

At the height of his fame Thomas Alva Edison was hailed as “the Napoleon of invention” and blazed in the public imagination as a virtual demigod. Newspapers proclaimed his genius in glowing personal profiles and quipped that “the doctor has been called” because the great man “has not invented anything since breakfast.” Starting with the first public demonstrations of the phonograph in 1878 and extending through the development of incandescent light, a power generation and distribution system to sustain it, and the first motion picture cameras—all achievements more astonishing in their time than we can easily grasp today—Edisons name became emblematic of all the wonder and promise of the emerging age of technological marvels.

But as Randall Stross makes clear in this critical biography of the man who is arguably the most globally famous of all Americans, Thomas Edisons greatest invention may have been his own celebrity. Edison was certainly a technical genius, but Stross excavates the man from layers of myth-making and separates his true achievements from his almost equally colossal failures. How much credit should Edison receive for the various inventions that have popularly been attributed to him—and how many of them resulted from both the inspiration and the perspiration of his rivals and even his own assistants? How much of Edisons technical skill helped him overcome a lack of business acumen and feel for consumers wants and needs?

This bold reassessment of Edisons life and career answers these and many other important questions while telling the story of how he came upon his most famous inventions as a young man and spent the remainder of his long life trying to conjure similar success. We also meet his partners and competitors, presidents and entertainers, his close friend Henry Ford, the wives who competed with his work for his attention, and the children who tried to thrive in his shadow—all providing a fuller view of Edisons life and times than has ever been offered before. The Wizard of Menlo Park reveals not only how Edison worked, but how he managed his own fame, becoming the first great celebrity of the modern age.

Synopsis:

In this highly readable book, Stross tells the story of how Edison came upon his most famous inventions as a young man, and reveals not only how Edison worked the remainder of his long life but how he managed his own myth.

About the Author

RANDALL STROSS is the author of five previous books, including eBoys and Steve Jobs & the Next Big Thing.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400047628
Subtitle:
How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World
Author:
Stross, Randall
Author:
Stross, Randall E.
Publisher:
Crown
Subject:
Inventors
Subject:
Electric engineers
Subject:
Scientists - General
Subject:
Inventors -- United States.
Subject:
Electric engineers - United States
Subject:
Science & Technology
Copyright:
Publication Date:
March 2007
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9.48x6.48x1.29 in. 1.42 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Science and Mathematics » History of Science » Technology

The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World Used Hardcover
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$7.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Crown Publishers - English 9781400047628 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this entertaining biography, Stross (eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work) approaches the life of Edison from an atypical angle: where scores of other biographers have focused on the genius's technical career, Stross presents Edison as the first self-conscious celebrity, a man deeply aware of the media's power and who wasn't afraid to use 'the press's hunger for more sensational discoveries for his own ends.' Though branding is now second-nature for famous people (and their handlers), Stross asserts that Edison launched the first successful branding campaign-an achievement arguably further ahead of its time than much of his technical output-by embracing the title 'Wizard of Menlo Park,' which was coined by a reporter during Edison's brief stay in that New Jersey town. With preternatural skill in image-management, Edison became indistinguishable from his moniker, encapsulating perfectly the air of mystery and wisdom he cultivated throughout his life, for both himself and his 'invention factory,' which 'seemed capable of mastering anything.' Stross's clear-eyed biography will show readers why, even at the end of the 20th century, Edison remains, outside the U.S., the best-known American ever." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , At the height of his fame Thomas Alva Edison was hailed as “the Napoleon of invention” and blazed in the public imagination as a virtual demigod. Newspapers proclaimed his genius in glowing personal profiles and quipped that “the doctor has been called” because the great man “has not invented anything since breakfast.” Starting with the first public demonstrations of the phonograph in 1878 and extending through the development of incandescent light, a power generation and distribution system to sustain it, and the first motion picture cameras—all achievements more astonishing in their time than we can easily grasp today—Edisons name became emblematic of all the wonder and promise of the emerging age of technological marvels.

But as Randall Stross makes clear in this critical biography of the man who is arguably the most globally famous of all Americans, Thomas Edisons greatest invention may have been his own celebrity. Edison was certainly a technical genius, but Stross excavates the man from layers of myth-making and separates his true achievements from his almost equally colossal failures. How much credit should Edison receive for the various inventions that have popularly been attributed to him—and how many of them resulted from both the inspiration and the perspiration of his rivals and even his own assistants? How much of Edisons technical skill helped him overcome a lack of business acumen and feel for consumers wants and needs?

This bold reassessment of Edisons life and career answers these and many other important questions while telling the story of how he came upon his most famous inventions as a young man and spent the remainder of his long life trying to conjure similar success. We also meet his partners and competitors, presidents and entertainers, his close friend Henry Ford, the wives who competed with his work for his attention, and the children who tried to thrive in his shadow—all providing a fuller view of Edisons life and times than has ever been offered before. The Wizard of Menlo Park reveals not only how Edison worked, but how he managed his own fame, becoming the first great celebrity of the modern age.

"Synopsis" by , In this highly readable book, Stross tells the story of how Edison came upon his most famous inventions as a young man, and reveals not only how Edison worked the remainder of his long life but how he managed his own myth.
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