Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla
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Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  210 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla is a book by John Joseph O'Neill detailing the life of Nikola Tesla.
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published (first published November 30th 1943)
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Richard Houchin
I find it curious how much time and energy is devoted to debating questions of primacy with the discovery of theories and machines. I've read biographical info on Tesla and Newton and Leibniz, and much of the extant written record of their lives and contributions to science come in the form of editorials and letters to newspapers and societies proving with great attention to detail exactly when they discovered this or that concept.

It's an exercise in differing perspectives: at the time, all of t...more
Chelsea Ursaner
I had known a good amount about Tesla and sort of idolized him already so it was really a matter of which of his many biographies would present his story in the best way. This looked like the quintessential one.

Tesla was a brilliant inventor and visionary in electricity and telecommunications (though hardly receives credit outside the scientific world), all stemming from the discovery of one "truth of overwhelming importance for the advancement of humanity." "That this planet, with all its appa...more
Robert Risher
This book deserves 5 stars for informational content but inconsistent storytelling brought the score down for me. Once I pressed through the markedly absurd though graspingly humorous hero-worship of the first section, I was enthralled with tremendous accomplishments of the historical enigma that Tesla has become. If the author is accurate in his portrayal of Tesla's discoveries then Tesla is certainly worthy of the cultic endearment that's developed in modern times. Late in the book, the author...more
They don't write biographies like this any more. But the crazed gushing style, weird sexism, and total lack of documentation make this strangely fun. I don't believe anything in this book, but I still enjoy reading it.
I really liked the bit where at a young age, Tesla made a 16 Junebug powered motor, and the son of an Army commander comes over and eats all of Tesla's spare bugs. This whole book is just that weird.
Finished it. Tesla was an amazing man, with a towering intellect and enormous f...more
This detailed account of the life of Nikola Tesla, the genius behind alternating current and a host of other inventions, would be of great interest to the science-minded reader. While the nuances of the experiments conducted by Tesla are part-and-parcel of this account, the real value of this book is in the description of the social, political and economic environment of the time. Anecdotes about how Tesla's environment was shaped by Bell, Marconi, Hertz, Faraday, and Edison among others, place...more
A bit of a slog to get through but Tesla's life is worth reading about. The day I finished reading it I was in Manhattan for business and quite accidentally found myself at the corner 40th Street and 6th Avenue, officially known as “Nikola Tesla Corner”. It works that way with Tesla...
"During the last three decades of his life, it is probable that not one out of tens of thousands who saw him knew who he was" (308).

Tesla - genius. Not perfect. Full of idiosyncrasies. Not much common sense as far as money goes, OCD-ed, alone for the most of his life but giving up millions to help humanity, modest yet refusing a Nobel Prize (which was never officially awarded, only announced) due to pride. He was not an inventor, or so he would like to think. Instead he contributed fundamentals...more
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
I will start by saying that this edition isn't the one I read; the edition I have was written in 1978 and published by Angriff Press of Hollywood, CA. I didn't see that edition in the choices.

That being said, this was a fast paced, highly intriguing, biography of Nikola Tesla--a truly remarkable person! The book is very much written in journalistic voice with a dash of that early 20th century writing style that I love to read in biographies written at the turn of the century.

The book talks abou...more
The book is well written and vivid with detail about Tesla's life and experiments. I am not, however, a scientist at heart and skimmed much that dealt with the details of his discoveries and inventions. O'Neill clearly revered the scientist, though he refrains from all-out hero worship by including critiques from the broader scientific community, and acknowledging many of Tesla's personal faults (disinterest in remaining financially solvent, a disinterest in other scientists in his field, and Ed...more
Dec 24, 2011 Adam marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
The author of this book loves him some Tesla viz.:

Even as he walked among the teeming millions of New York he became a fabled individual who seemed to belong to the far-distant future or to have come to us from the mystical realm of the gods, for he seemed to be an admixture of a Jupiter or a Thor who hurled the shafts of lightning; an Ajax who defied the Jovian bolts, a Prometheus who transmuted energy into electricity to spread over the earth; an Aurora who would light the skies as a terrestr...more
This book reads like a verbal masturbation of Dr. Tesla's career. I am a huge fan of Nikola Tesla's research, but O'Neill really takes it far beyond "doting fanboyism". The first half of the book (especially the War of the Currents chapters) was a terrific read, the latter half became quite a chore as the author started getting into the more technical details of Tesla's projects. What was most frustrating, is the almost apologetic nature of the author's tone towards Tesla's shortcomings. This co...more
It was fascinating to read about this amazing man, a true genius, who dedicated his life to science, but whose activity was sadly hindered by financial issues and by the ignorance or envy of other leading scientists. Too bad the technical details were mainly lost on me, as I don't have the necessary background.
I thought this was great, first book I've read about Tesla and a great intro. Written by a friend and contemporary, it takes a bit to get used to the style, but once you realize it, it's a great time machine. Definitely going to read more about Tesla and I find it amazing how forgotten and unrecognized he has become.
I couldn't get into the writing of the book. It's very dry and kind of impersonal, even though the writer supposedly knew Tesla very well. It also needs illustrations, for all the technical descriptions of Tesla's inventions for those not mechanically minded.
Jeromy Peacock
I really like Tesla but this author is very repetitive and injects himself into the story way too much. I will have to find a better Tesla biography.
Excellent bio - a truly important person that you don't hear much about!
Life of Tesla, O'Neill does justice in this earlier work.
A bunch of nice tidbits, but the overall effect is tedious.
G Budai
G Budai marked it as to-read
Sep 16, 2014
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Sep 09, 2014
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Shashank Singh marked it as to-read
Sep 08, 2014
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Gary Bacon marked it as to-read
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Author by someone that truly knew him. 1 4 Mar 18, 2013 11:48AM  
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