Tesla: Man Out of Time
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Tesla: Man Out of Time

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  2,030 ratings  ·  226 reviews
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 madman by his enemies, a genius by others, and an enigma by nearly everyone, Nikola Tesla was, without a doubt, a trailblazing inventor who created astonishing, sometimes world-transforming devices that were virt...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 9th 2001 by Touchstone (first published 1981)
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Einstein by Walter IsaacsonGenius by James GleickThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. KuhnThe Discoverers by Daniel J. BoorstinTesla by Margaret Cheney
Scientists and Philosophers
5th out of 85 books — 85 voters
The Da Vinci Code by Dan BrownAngels & Demons by Dan BrownThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg LarssonThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
Conspiracy Fiction
249th out of 1,267 books — 706 voters

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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...more
Josh Hamacher
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...more
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...more
Marjorie Snook
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
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
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
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...more
May 24, 2007 Dana rated it 4 of 5 stars
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].
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
Sep 25, 2008 Carl rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
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...more
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
Adam Boudreau
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
"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
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...more
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
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...more
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
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...more
I'm not sure how the author managed to write such a dull and dry biography of a man as interesting as Tesla. But, it was well-researched and I learned a few things from it, and some of the better anecdotes allow Tesla's brilliant and eccentric personality to shine through.
Subject matter? Fascinating.
Actual writing? Marginal at best.

While certainly one of the better Tesla biographies out there, the quality of the book itself leaves quite a bit to be desired. The back half of the book plods along with little actual information, relying heavily on conjecture and inference and rumor. If only the biographer had focused more heavily on what's actually known and available about Tesla -- as she did fairly well in the first chunk of chapters (perhaps expanding on that tim...more
Nikola Tesla is a fascinating person, so ahead of his time that people have actually wondered aloud whether he was from another planet entirely. His inventions are many - notably, he paved the way for things like the light bulb and radio, to name just a few. Why do we not think of him immediately when we think of great inventors? This book aims to tell his story. And, it's a pretty compelling one.

Where the book falls short is that it turns out to be sort of hard to describe a lot of Tesla's thi...more
Leah K
Tesla: Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney

★ ★ ★

Tesla was a great inventor and great contributor to modern technology. Yet, he has often been forgotten and slipped through the cracks until the last couple decade. And if you're looking for a biography on this great (yet slightly neurotic and crazy) man, this is definitely the biography for you to pick up. It is detailed and is equal in talking about the good and the bad of this man. There are several books about him but from what I can tell, this...more
Dry to read at times, particularly when getting into concepts of electrical and physical theory that I have never intuitively grasped, this work is strengthened by how endlessly fascinating Tesla is. Much of our modern life is due to Tesla's developments, from his instrumentation like the Tesla coil, to alternating current, to radio, to radar. He conceptualized wireless communication in myriad forms, remote controlled weapons, robots, etc. Some things he was way off on, but his mind was so proli...more
I have to say, I knew very little about Tesla before reading this book, but I am astounded by what an absolute crazy genius he was. I also never knew there was a "team Edison" vs "team Tesla" rivalry going on, but apparently Edison stole some of Tesla's work and to this day, both camps argue over who was the better scientist.

Tesla was an incredible visionary more than he was an inventor. His patents and the concepts he came up with led (and still lead) other scientists to create stunning breakt...more
Feb 23, 2012 Amber rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who also want to know who inspired a lot of science fiction ideas
Recommended to Amber by: found it myself;inspired by sanctuary
Tesla:Man Out of Time is a wonderful biography where Margaret Cheney writes a comprehensive biography on one of the world's greatest inventors and scientists in written history,Nikola Tesla.He was a flamboyant, neurotic, well-known genius who helped technology leap forward. At the beginning of the novel, Cheney describes the childhood of Tesla where he was inflicted with many curious illnesses and the death of his brother.She later goes on to describe the many miraculous accomplishes that Tesla...more
Disappointing, because I think the subject of this book is so fascinating, but this was a tough read. Far too much detail on individual patents, Serbo-Croation and Yugoslavian politics, as well as the politics of New York high-society... not enough story.

And what a story it could have been!

The lead in, a short story about Mark Twain visiting Tesla's New York laboratory, gave me high hopes for the book. But unfortunately, that approach (well-crafted story) seemed to be lost in effort to present...more
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
Doğa Armangil
Great inventor (greatest ever?). Enjoyed some commercial success at the beginning of his carreer. Wrestled with financial difficulties most of his later life.

Most of his later inventions were either stolen and monetized by other entrepreneurs, or they were so much ahead of their time as to be unimplementable. Some were implemented much later. Also, many of his ideas were just too vague, or plain wrong.

Notable inventions & discoveries:
* alternating electrical current system (commercial succe...more
This is an extremely interesting and well-written exposé into the life of Nikola Tesla. The sheer brilliance and genius of the man never ceases to amaze me. But what amazes me almost as much is how little-known he is. He was the most influential man in the development of alternating current, which everything today relies on, and yet when most people think of "electricity," the name "Edison" comes to mind. He invented wireless radio, and yet Marconi is the one credited with that discovery. Before...more
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next book club discussion 3 20 Jul 15, 2014 08:21PM  
Imprinted Lives: ...: Tesla: Man Out of Time 1 3 Jul 07, 2012 08:55PM  
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“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
“Gök gürültüsü iyidir, etkileyicidir ama asıl iş gören şimşektir" Mark Twain” 1 likes
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