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Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla: Biography of a Genius

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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,322 ratings  ·  188 reviews
Nikola Tesla (1856–1943), credited as the inspiration for radio, robots, and even radar, has been called the patron saint of modern electricity. Based on original material and previously unavailable documents, this acclaimed book is the definitive biography of the man considered by many to be the founding father of modern electrical technology. Among Tesla's creations were ...more
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Published November 7th 2011 by Tantor Media (first published 1996)
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David
Nikola Tesla was an amazing genius. He came very close to winning a Nobel Prize, jointly with Edison. Tesla was an brilliant, arrogant, eccentric character, full of energy. He made numerous fundamental scientific discoveries, and tried, to some extent, to capitalize on his discoveries through a whole host of inventions. He obtained many diverse patents, but he had little business sense, and this was exacerbated by corporations that often infringed on his patents without offering compensation. Co ...more
Paul
This book is actually the reason I can't check out anything at the SF Public Library anymore. I took it out years ago, and by the time I started it, it was due back again. But being the lazy bastard I am, I just kept reading it because it was so engrossing, and never renewed it. Tesla was, next to Da Vinci, probably the purest and most intuitive scientific genius ever to have lived. He was also one of the most paranoid and eccentric, but really everyone knows that is a prerequisite for genius. S ...more
BetseaK
Apr 30, 2013 BetseaK rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who want to know more about Nikola Tesla
This was not an easy listen. Over 22 hours dense with information, including technical descriptions of Nikola Tesla's inventions!
This being said, I am glad I bought this audiobook. It covers not only Tesla's inventions and ideas but also his cultural background, his relationships with quite a number of the luminaries of the times, as well as his physical and mental health.
For this reader/listener with no electrical engineering background, the descriptions of Tesla's inventions and postulated th
...more
Rohan
This book was long. I had my doubts about finishing this one in a month but I ended up wrapping it up in just over a week. Although, that has more to do with Tesla's character and his inventions rather than Author's writing style. Though, to be fair to the Author, he has done a decent job of making the book dramatic enough especially considering it is actually a Biography.

It is clear from the book that Tesla was a Brilliant man whose ideas were well ahead of his time. At the same time, book has
...more
Glynn
This was a good but difficult book. The author is intent on putting down in meticulous detail the life of this amazing character and in doing so skips around with chaotic effect. Tesla knew and interacted with many famous people of his time and it was hard keeping track of his interactions with them as the author related stories and jumped from one character to another.

The author relates in detail the many inventions and ideas that Nikola Tesla advanced that were subsequently used by other inven
...more
Christopher


When I review a biography, I usually start by saying "look how awesome this guy is" and then rambling about his appearance, his style, etc.

Well, look how awesome this guy is. He's like a more dashing Marcel Proust. He's got a handsome but not showy mustachio. He's got that cool oiled hair thing going on.

But Tesla's coolness is more about his showmanship. He took this terrifying, new thing called electricity, stuff that comes down from the sky and explodes trees and cows, and he just sits there r
...more
J.P.
I’m still looking for the definitive biography on Nikola Tesla because rest assured this isn’t it.
The author throws non-essential information about like it was confetti. I knew from the first chapter when he starts with the history of Croatia that this would be a less than promising beginning. Unfortunately it doesn’t get any better. People keep cropping up who had very little contact with or influence on Tesla. Information on his discoveries are kept to a minimum while matters of who filed what
...more
Martina
No review of mine would be complete without a little backstory, so I shall share it now. I've been acquainted with the genius of Nikola Tesla for a long, long time. Ever since I've come to the realization that we owe that man a lot, I've striven to inform myself about the man and his work. I watched documentaries, attended lectures, read publications; I was terribly angry when the recreated Tesla laboratory in the Technical museum wasn't open when I found a time slot to visit it... heh, the only ...more
Fred Hughes
That Tesla was a genius is a given.

This book goes deeper than that and at times he does appear to be a wizard. Highly educated, fluent in 12 languages, and a prolific reader Tesla even when young would not just accept something as fact just because some authority figure told him. If it didn’t make sense he would investigate it with vigour.

That was both a positive and negative attribute as once he got something in his mind to work on he would do so without appropriate rest until he collapsed. He
...more
Morgan Blackledge
I'm embarrassed to admit it, but before reading this book, somewhere in the back of my mind, I had pretty much bought into the new age mythology that Tesla was a mystic genius visionary who was the victim of Edison's jealous, evil industrialist thievery and sabotage. Now, after reading accounts of Tesla's embarrassing social, financial and professional missteps, his ridiculous pleading correspondences to J.P. Morgan (and other wealthy would-be benefactors), and less than half baked journal submi ...more
Erica
A little on the academic side at times, but Tesla himself is amazing enough to make up for any downsides to this book. The author does a good job of presenting the revolutionary nature of Tesla's inventions to a non-engineering audience, while also investigating the social and political reasons why he is rarely remembered for them today. Certainly better than the incoherent mess that is Margaret Cheney's TESLA: MAN OUT OF TIME.
Steven Peterson
Nikola Tesla was without a doubt a genius when it came to electricity and engineering. Have you ever been in wonder at the electric power produced by Niagara Falls? Well, this was a product of Tesla's insights and work.

The book traces nicely the trajectory of Tesla's career. We learn of his youth and his formative influences. He moved to the United States and began his work inventing devices. Early on, he came up with an electrical system--A.C.--as opposed to Thomas Edison's D.C. The two ended u
...more
Daniel
I endorse this book. If this book were a person, that person would kick Chuck Norris' ass. If this book were edible, your head would explode from the sheer ecstasy. If this book were a sound, your ears would explode--twice. I must warn you, though. If you aren't worthy, then this book will burn your hands upon contact. Only the most devote individuals have ever been known to hold this book and survive, let alone read it.

In other words, this book is awesome.
Jason Bergman
A fascinating look at the life of a strange and brilliant man. This is very much a warts and all approach to his life, which is a good thing, in my opinion. Tesla may have been a genius, but he was not a very practical man, and he had a deep self-destructive streak to him. There's a lot of great stuff in here, not the least of which is the appendix which examines whether or not Tesla's Wardenclyffe tower, which pretty much destroyed him financially (and mentally) could have ever been successful ...more
Mike Hernandez
What I failed to realize when I started reading this book was how literal the title was. I was expecting a biography of the life of Nikola Tesla. Indeed there was a biography, however there is also a huge emphasis on The Life AND TIMES of Nikola Tesla. It seemed that every other page was filled with a bunch of extraneous nonsense that had little to no bearing on "the life" part of the book. A perfect example is that almost every event ever attended by Tesla was listed, which is fine, however the ...more
Margie
May 16, 2013 Margie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The serious scholar
Tesla is one of the most awesomest coolio scientists evah. Totally. Check out what The Oatmeal has to say: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla.

And if you're writing your dissertation on Tesla and need to know whether he was in New Jersey or New York on April 19th so that you can confirm that a conversation really took place, this is the book for you. It's great at that level of documentation. On the other hand, if you want to read about how awesomely coolio Tesla was, this book may make you want
...more
Linda Harkins
After listening to 22 hours of this audiobook, I completely changed my mind about Tesla. I guess I thought he was left out of our U.S. history textbooks because he was a mystic and a misfit. Seifer points out the complexity of the man and the period in which he lived. Who would disagree with Seifer that Tesla was a genius with scant business acumen? Some of Tesla's inventions and discoveries that come rapidly to mind include wireless transmission, radio, polyphase electric system, rotating magne ...more
Miraese
May 12, 2007 Miraese rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who saw "The Prestige" and thought the most interesting part was Tesla
I learned way too much to write in this box right now, Tesla was a real freak, but clearly an under-recognized founder of our modern electrical era. I had no idea.
Lisa
3.5 really...

Wizard is the extremely comprehensive biography of possibly one of the most interesting men to have ever lived, a man so cool they had to get David Bowie to play him – Nikola Tesla.

Before we begin, I should probably make it clear that while I am fascinated by science and the great thinkers that practice it, my mind does not work in that way at all (I only passed my Science GCSE after my mum condensed pretty much the entire syllabus into a series of silly cartoons a few days before m
...more
Adam Ford
This is not a great biography. But the subject is so fascinating that it largely covers the significant flaws.

First the flaws:

The author is an unabashed fan of Tesla and clearly has an agenda to make sure that the reader recognizes Tesla above Edison and Marconi and the other giants of the age. For instance, he denigrates Edison as using the brute force of a massive volume of experiments to come to what works while Tesla would think it through and do the math and find what would work and then t
...more
Esa Ruoho
Well researched but disruptive biography on Nikola Tesla. Loaded with intrigue and drama. Author completely opposed to Nikola Tesla's Free Energy projects. He also takes the time to write a full chapter about how John Ernst Worrell Keely was a charlatan and a fake -- when you actually do proper research, you realize that Tesla and Keely were truly progressive inventors and researchers, Tesla into electricity, Keely into sound.

Biographer is unqualified to make statements on Tesla's energy resear
...more
Pupsi
Fascinating look at a genius's life. The impressions I got were:
- He was a brilliant inventor, but not good at commercially managing and developing his ideas. Edison was better
- He lived in a time were the possibilities and optimism for Electricity was boundless. there was nothing that could not be solved with electricity
- I think he lost a huge chuck of time, money and his sanity over the idea of wireless electrical distribution. I still not sure if this is because he was so far ahead of his
...more
Paul
I've always thought that Tesla was the hidden genius of world power, but that damn greedy ego-maniac Edison stole his magic thunder! You learn to hate the rival that does everything in his power to destroy the reputation of a genius, simply because I believe Edison knew Tesla was smarter. Granted, Tesla was a bit of an insane spark-wielding mama's boy, but hey, he had some serious brain power! There's all these theories that Tesla caused the Tunguska blast; that his ideas about hiding a ship fro ...more
Jeri Lane
This book was great...if I could only understand half of it. Ha ha. I have a fascination with Nikola Tesla and always have, however I am not of the capacity to understand his genius, which is what this book is mostly about. It gives a good account of his personal history, but of course, it focuses mostly on his amazing life's work and the vast improvements made to others work. Where would we be without Nikola Tesla? He has no doubt been touched by God. To understand energy and be able to harness ...more
Dale Pearl
A mad genius. Quite possibly Tesla was a smarter man than Edison but he was quite mad, at least his behaviors and social skills would lead a person to think he was a mad hatter.
Jessica Baumgartner
Nikola Tesla had abilities beyond that of many people, and though this book tried to present his life from all perspectives it is full of so much information pumped into so many different paragraphs that it becomes tedious. I had to take many breaks before deciding that this book is just a dry, hard read. I can usually push myself through a good book but how can one tell the story of a legend like Tesla in just one book? I'd much rather read the papers that he himself published and form my own i ...more
Jeni Enjaian
If I could give half stars, I would give this book 3.5. I enjoyed it but it wasn't quite good enough to warrant 4 stars.
When I first started listening, I got really excited to learn that the author was determined to stick to strict chronology. For a biography this makes so much sense. I'm pleased to report that aside from a few necessary deviations, Seifer stuck to a strictly chronological narrative.
I think I enjoyed this book more than I would have otherwise because I'm a huge fan of the Syfy
...more
Sue Webb
Nikola Tesla, a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, and mechanical engineer was best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply systems. This biography however, digs deeper to show this man--who lived nearly a century--to be a far more intriguing person.

I struggled with this book, not because of Nikola Tesla--but because it contained a great deal of both technical and political information. Both of these topics fall outside my
...more
Peter McGarvey
Since Tesla was such a fascinating personality I was expecting this biography to be a bit more dynamic. That said, Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla is still a great read albeit a bit dry.

There is room however, for a definitive biography of one of the great characters in the drama that was the 20th century.

Eduardo Deboni
If the goal of a biography is to create the mood of the times and the life of a person, Tesla´s time and life was very boring. This is a highly detailed book, that cites many actual facts, and tries to describe all Tesla´s inventions. You can have a glimpse of the style by the very long title. The author is also a clear fan of Tesla, this may prevents him from creating a certain distance from the character. After reading Mr. Isaacson´s wonderful bios of Jobs and Einstein, I may be expecting too ...more
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why read? 6 42 May 17, 2014 11:33PM  
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“Day after day I asked myself what is electricity and found no answer. Eighty years have gone by since and I still ask the same question, unable to answer it. NIKOLA TESLA1” 1 likes
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