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Tesla: Man Out of Time

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,932 Ratings  ·  315 Reviews
In this “informative and delightful” (American Scientist) biography, Margaret Cheney explores the brilliant and prescient mind of Nikola Tesla, one of the twentieth century’s greatest scientists and inventors.

In Tesla: Man Out of Time, Margaret Cheney explores the brilliant and prescient mind of one of the twentieth century's greatest scientists and inventors. Called a mad
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 9th 2001 by Touchstone (first published 1981)
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Jun 05, 2012 Reed rated it it was ok
I am a huge fan of Tesla. Whenever someone cannot comprehend how visionaries like Galileo or Copernicus where tormented for being "ahead of their time" all one has to do is look at Tesla's life for an example as to how it can happen. It wasn't until after his death that it was actually proved he was the true inventor of radio.

Unfortunately, Cheney's unbridled love/adoration for Telsa severely mars an otherwise well researched treatise. I've never read a biography where so many sentences begin wi
Josh Hamacher
Oct 03, 2010 Josh Hamacher rated it did not like it
What a disappointing read! I honestly struggled to finish this biography after starting it with such high hopes.

Tesla is a fascinating character. His early work laid the groundwork for much of the modern alternating-current-based electrical grid. Later on he made major discoveries in wireless communications but was unable to capitalize on either. The later part of his life is marked by grand proclamations but little actual experimentation. He's something of a controversial figure and the jury is
Aug 31, 2009 Tim rated it liked it
I few years ago I bought a really excellent album by The Handsome Family called "Last Days Of Wonder." One of the best songs on the album, and the song for which the album was named, was about Nikola Tesla. The song described Tesla's oddness, of course, but its true power came from the use of Tesla himself as a metaphor for the way that we used to think about science and scientists.

Of course I wasn't alive at the time, but from various sources I pick up the idea that, from the beginning of the
Apr 19, 2013 Shayla rated it did not like it
After slogging through over 300 pages of this, I checked the weather forecast yesterday and found it was nice enough to ride my bike to work. "Good," I thought, "I won't have to read that Tesla book on the streetcar this afternoon." Upon thinking this, and realizing how little I was enjoying this book, I returned it to the library unfinished this morning.

The author perhaps tries her best to provide a critical viewpoint of Tesla's life, but it comes across more as a very long fan letter. There ar
Sep 24, 2015 Popaj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Dok sam tamo ležao bespomoćno", pisao je u svojim autobiografskim prisećanjima, "mislio sam na to da će mi majka, ako umre dok sam udaljen od njene postelje, sigurno dati neki znak... Ja (sam bio) u Londonu u društvu moga prijatelja ser Vilijema Kruksa kada se raspravljalo o spiritizmu, i bio sam potpuno u tim razmišljanjima... Mislio sam da su uslovi da se pogleda u onostrano sasvim povoljni, jer moja je majka bila genijalna žena krajnje obdarena intuitivnim moćima."

Tokom te noći um mu je nape
Marjorie Snook
Feb 08, 2010 Marjorie Snook rated it liked it
I think Tesla may be one of the most brilliant and unique minds that this country has ever seen. I have been fascinated with Tesla ever since I heard about Tesla coils (which are devices that make artificial lightening). He is probably the greatest inventor of last century; Edison was simply a technician and a businessman, but Tesla was a visionary who foresaw a new, electrified world. He developed the system by which we generate most of our electricity, built the hydropower plant at Niagara Fal ...more
Jun 16, 2012 Jean rated it it was ok
While Nikola Tesla is an interesting man, this book did not live up to the man's genius. First off, the writing is not very good, it feels very haphazard and lacking in forethought. This sometimes reads like a list of accomplishments, Nikola Tesla did this, invented that, came up with this idea and so on. Secondly, this biography totally glorifies the man without ever viewing him in a critical way or with a critical approach. The main feeling I got from this book is that Tesla had a lot of ideas ...more
Ed Coker
Feb 19, 2010 Ed Coker rated it really liked it
Tesla was the only real Leonardo da Vinci of our age (1856-1943). His genius was in the field of electricity. He was quirky, he was feared as a “mad scientist” an image that he developed and encouraged, he ended his years sitting on a park bench in Central Park covered with pigeons, but, in spite of all that, his incredible accomplishments were real and verifiable. Many of his inventions have been credited to others in the popular mind and his chief rivals, such as Thomas Edison and Marconi, won ...more
May 24, 2007 Dana rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
An excellent biography of a visionary, eccentric man given to strange obsessions and scientific genius. Well written, well researched, and well worth your time.

Briefly for flavor:

People speak of decades as if they form natural endings, when in fact they seldom end anything cleanly. Human survivors are dragged into new slices of time with which they feel no harmony and in which they are exposed to rasping change. So it was for Tesla in the Roaring Twenties. [p 275].
Dorothy Piper
Jan 22, 2016 Dorothy Piper rated it it was amazing
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) truly was a man ahead of his time. He was born into an era when the materials that would prove his designs had yet to be invented. Even the words needed to convey his ideas had not been coined. Many of his designs are still classified seventy-three years after his death.
Tesla was a magician who held people spellbound while conjuring up his amazing discoveries. Margaret Cheney was clearly in his thrall, evidenced by her resolute championship of Tesla against Edison. The a
Sep 25, 2008 Carl rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone Science minded
Recommended to Carl by: Self
Here's to a real genius who was derailed by the monopolies who were threatened by him. He discovered free energy and was brilliant beyond comprehension. You have to read this book to see and understand the infinite possibilities of physics and science and their application.
Larry Cunningham
Aug 29, 2012 Larry Cunningham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tesla was a misunderstood and eccentric genius who was far ahead of his time, and this book did an admirable job in portraying the man and his work. It held my interest throughout; highly recommended.
Feb 11, 2008 Chloe rated it really liked it
One of the most interesting biographies that I've read in years. These days Edison is always personified as the great American inventor yet he comes off more as a crass capitalist when his works are set beside those of Nikola Tesla. Everything that humankind takes for granted in the 21st Century , all of our technological marvels, spring from the mind and experiments of this fantastic Serbian inventor: Alternating Current (far more powerful than Edison's Direct Current), Radio, Robots, X-Rays, N ...more
Ashley Reid
Tesla was definitely a man ahead of his time. He also seems to be a man that was screwed over by a lot of people.

Some parts of the writing seemed to drag, but overall it was an interesting book about a great man.
Ainhoa Rebolledo
maldito genio excéntrico al que le chiflaban celebrar su cumpleaños y todo lo inalámbrico
Matt Mitrovich
Jul 03, 2015 Matt Mitrovich rated it liked it
Originally posted here:

Nikola Tesla is one of those historical figures who seems to have been born to play a mad scientist. Besides his well-known cameo appearance in The Prestige by Christopher Priest, he has appeared in countless steampunk works, such as the Five Fists of Science and War of the Worlds: Goliath. He was a scientist, an inventor, a visionary and on top of all that he was just enough on the wrong side of the thin line between genius and ins
Jul 13, 2015 Stephen rated it it was ok
If you know nothing about Tesla, you'll find out a lot of interesting things, like I did. The eccentric genius makes for an incredible story. And if I was to guess, I'd guess that Cheney did the most with the limited source material on Tesla, the man, that she could.

But it all seemed sadly incomplete. And the parts where Cheney tries to fill in can be nails on a chalkboard. There's a multi-page Freudian analysis of Tesla that includes absurd Freudian gobbledygook about nipples, maternal figures
Aug 02, 2011 Vikram rated it it was amazing
Nikolai Tesla: great American or greatest American? Read this book to find out! Margaret Cheney has written the definitive biography of Tesla, mainly chronicling his life after his emigration to the United States. From his time working for Edison to his eventual death in a hotel room, alone and near insanity, the book portrays a sympathetic picture of a somewhat mad genius.
There are many nuggets of information about Tesla in this book that are not public knowledge or should be. For instance, di
Aug 17, 2012 Nancy rated it liked it
I didn't know all that much about Nikola Tesla when I sat down with this book. The biography is extremely thorough and covers all aspects of his personal and professional life. Tesla was an intriguing and unique individual whose contributions to the world are incalculable, even if he did have some crackpot ideas along the way. If your grasp of the principles of electro-magnetism are a little rusty, be prepared to do some external study as you read this book or you will not understand what Tesla' ...more
Jan 27, 2011 Adam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
I'm fairly recently getting into Tesla. As I mentioned in another review I've always known who Tesla was, his work on Turbines and the Tesla Coil, but I didn't know too much about the man or his other inventions. When I saw the movie "The Prestige" I became far more intrigued into the person that was Tesla, so I decided to pick up a few things about the man. A great introductorion, from what I can tell, is the PBS Documentary on DVD, but it has almost no depth and is really a very brief overview ...more
Apr 24, 2013 Broodingferret rated it liked it
Shelves: biographies
Like most people (I like to assume), Nikola Tesla first really popped onto my radar by way of both my irredeemably tech-geeky social circle and the Meme Pits of the Internet. Coming across various little factoids about Tesla, I decided I needed to read at least one biography of the idiosyncratic inventor, so I picked up this book and was not disappointed. Cheney clearly has a soft spot for Tesla, but avoids shading him too rosily; as quick as she is to expound upon his engineering genius and lov ...more
Alisa Kester
Nov 21, 2009 Alisa Kester rated it really liked it
"Perhaps it is better in this present world of ours that a revolutionary idea or invention instead of being helped and patted, be hampered and ill-treated in its adolescence - by want of means, by selfish interest, pedantry, stupidity, and ignorance; that it be attacked and stifled; that it pass through bitter trials and tribulations, through the strife of commercial existence. So we do get our light. So all that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combatted, suppressed - only to eme ...more
Kristi Thielen
Nov 14, 2012 Kristi Thielen rated it it was amazing
One of the great mysteries of the 20th century is why this genius is so obscure and Thomas Edison so widely known and revered: the fact that Edison was a good-old-boy from Ohio with lower middle classes interests while Tesla spoke with an accent, wrote poetry and never married may have had something to do with it. But still.

This well-written book explores Tesla's life,inventions and discoveries with real verve, which makes it both informative and enjoyable. Cheney never shies from those Tesla a
Jun 19, 2013 Sean rated it really liked it
An enlightening and inspiring look into the life of one of the most brilliant, mysterious, and yet uncelebrated inventors of all time. Cheney's quest is that of posthumous revival: to remind the world of the man who changed it arguably more than any other. Although not a source for technical examination of the seemingly unending stream of contributions to science, engineering, and countless industries, the PhDs as well as the doctorate-less should find the description of his work both understand ...more
Sep 04, 2009 Bluezamia rated it really liked it
What a brilliant crazy man!
He came to this country with nothing.
Got swindled by Thomas Edison.
Saved Westinghouse.
Never documented his work.
Never managed to collect much money, or credit, or take care of himself as he should.
Ended up with an OCD trap on the number 3 and in love with a pigeon.
Responsible for fluorescent lights, electrifying the Columbia Exposition and the adoption of AC current.
Then disappeared into obscurity and died in poverty.
I read this book like watching a train wreck. I wan
Carol Lin
Feb 22, 2015 Carol Lin rated it it was ok
Had promise, but too preachy. This book was written with the obvious agenda of portraying Tesla to be the poor genius who was taken advantage of. It got old, real quick. I want to learn about the man and his inventions, and not be constantly bombarded with pity and sentiment. Get on with it! We all know he didn't get his deserved credit in his lifetime. This book aims to put back all of that credit x 10000 times more.

I have to be honest, I could not finish the book. It's sad. I tried again a fe
Nov 09, 2011 Cameron rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
This is the definitive book on the life and times of N Tesla. It is well worth reading. But, I found it so frustrating and tortuous to hear how the man who invented so much was rewarded with so little. Tesla invented radio, power/electricity generation, fluorescent bulbs, radio controlled devices and dozens of other technologies. He even designed the first STOL aircraft. The breadth of his knowledge and inventiveness are mind-boggling. From the book, it appears that he may have been psychic as w ...more
Nov 01, 2012 Lukav rated it liked it
In Tesla: Man Out of Time, by Margaret Cheney, Tesla's life after immigrating to the United States of America is brilliantly uncovered. The information about the early part of his life is somewhat sketchy, due to the fact that information regarding Tesla during that part of his life is rare. This book contains many of Tesla's odd habits and eccentric behaviors.

Tesla: Man Out of Time is a lone book. For most of his life, Tesla lived in New York. I would recommend this book to Tesla fans over th
Todd Stockslager
Jun 08, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Even 65 years after his death, Tesla still stirs such intense emotions that he seems less a scientist than a spiritual leader. Some consider him the greatest mind in science with near-mythical powers of observation and ratiocination; others dismiss him as a fuzzy-minded thinker who envisioned great things but executed on few of them. This sharp disconnect clouds Cheney's biography, which introduces the reader to both sides of Tesla but clearly leans toward the worshipful respect and the dismissa ...more
Hannah Givens
May 09, 2015 Hannah Givens rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Raise your hand if you've heard of Nikola Tesla. If you're in an engineering-type field you probably have, or if you've read a lot about the early 1900s, but after relentlessly quizzing everyone I ran into while I was reading this, most people don't know the first thing about him, so it might surprise you to hear that he was the greatest inventor ever, period.

I was first introduced to him in the movie The Prestige, which is an amazing movie that everyone should see, and see more than once. I tho
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“Tesla, at least, seemed perfectly satisfied with what he had achieved in Colorado. He had made lightning dance at his command; he had used the whole Earth as a piece of laboratory equipment; and he had received messages from the stars. Now he was in a hurry to get on with the future.” 1 likes
“Tanınmış bir editör ve mühendis olan Thomas Commerfold Martin bir keresinde Tesla'nın doğduğu köyü Hırvatistan haritasında bulamayan Edison'un Tesla'ya ciddi ciddi hayatında hiç insan eti yiyip yemediğini sorduğunu anlatır.” 1 likes
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