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Tesla: Inventor of the Modern

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,889 ratings  ·  142 reviews
Tesla’s inventions transformed our world, and his visions have continued to inspire great minds for generations.

Nikola Tesla invented the radio, robots, and remote control. His electric induction motors run our appliances and factories, yet he has been largely overlooked by history. In Tesla, Richard Munson presents a comprehensive portrait of this farsighted and underappr
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 22nd 2018 by W. W. Norton Company
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Wilbur Hopkins I read them both and liked Munson's much better. It gives a good sense of Tesla as an inventor and a man. Well written and engaging.…moreI read them both and liked Munson's much better. It gives a good sense of Tesla as an inventor and a man. Well written and engaging.(less)

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Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Visionary inventor Nikola Tesla, the genius of electricity was born in a lightning storm in 1856, Croatia. He was an inventor who not only envisioned one hundred years into the future but way beyond. This kind of genius was kind of like a disability--how hard was it for him to relate to the world around him when he was constantly obsessed with these inventions and visions of the future? He invented x ray, laser, taser, radio, robotics, missiles, the AC motor, turbines, the Tesla coil, electro sh ...more
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: publisher-sent

Nikola Tesla has become a Culture Icon known more for his reputation as a kind of magician and rogue inventor, thanks to the movie The Prestige, and as a visionary, his name recognized because of Tesla Motors. And yet few of us understand that everything we take for granted today--the electric grid, cell phones, satellite television, the Internet, the smartwatch, and even the remote control of warfare--first sprung from his imagination.

I knew Tesla from bits and pieces. I remember when my son
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm glad I picked this biography from W. W. Norton as my first deeper exploration into this genius inventor's life. Tesla was a visionary, far ahead of his time in predicting technology; he basically predicted aerospace engineering, phones, computers, radio, television, robots, artificial intelligence, the Internet, and countless other technological capabilities. But his brain was too big for business. He was eccentric, egotistical, vain, and seemed to care more about accolades and theories than ...more
Scott Blackburn
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a lot more exciting than I thought it could be.
I have read and heard a lot about Tesla over the years, some true, some myth, but I enjoyed this more than two earlier biographies I read awhile ago. It was a very entertaining biography and the pace was just right. It turns Tesla back into a human being while still showing how important and interesting he was. Recommended.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Tesla was an eccentric but fascinating man. Born at the stroke of midnight during a thunderstorm, he survived cholera, malaria, and other near deaths before he was 20 (this made him a germaphobe). This bio had many human interest stories, such as his relationships with people like Edison, JP Morgan Chase, Marconi, and these parts of the book really interested me. At one point the book seemed to get too technical (AC/DC, etc.) and those parts didn't hold my interest, but the technical parts didn' ...more
Elizabeth Peterson
Best biography and history book I've read this year. Nikola Tesla is one fascinating, and important, person, and this book brings him alive. Very well written. ...more
Dec 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this one. Author Richard Munson is a Chicago based senior director for the Environmental Defense Fund. He's been senior vice president of Recycled Energy Development, executive director of the Northeast-Midwest Institute, director of Solar Lobby and Center for Renewable Resources, co-coordinator of Sun Day, coordinator of Environmental Action Foundation, and director of the University of Michigan's Pilot Program, according to his page here.

Richard Munson :

Tesla: Inventor of the
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A fascinating read and accessible as critics have mentioned, shedding light on a man who was like the Wizard of Oz - both showman and hidden.

This is a very interesting biography of the mysterious Nikola Tesla. A lot of the time when Tesla is mentioned he's shrouded in mystery and the supernatural, but this biography shows he was also more than human too.

So much of what we see today in electrical feats all started with inventions from Tesla, but with unfair business deals, patent disputes, and a
Gail Ramsey
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really well done biography of a fascinating individual and inventor.
David Hoskins
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By far, this is the best Tesla biography out there. It is a great addition to the new movie, "The Current War," and gives Nikola Tesla his due for being the great inventor who actually won the AC-DC battle. This book is well written, well researched, and nicely balanced. I've read a lot about Tesla and this period of history, but this book provides new and interesting insights. ...more
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: newton-mania, science
I have been wanting to read a biography of Tesla for a while, so I checked this one out of the library. I admired the author's evenhandedness. He lauded Tesla's inventiveness, while shying away from the things that made him problematic. Edison and Westinghouse figure so prominently in Tesla's life, I wonder how prominently he figured in theirs? I was somewhat dismayed to find that I missed by 100 years, and several social classes, a chance to attend a dinner party with John Muir, Samuel Clemens, ...more
Roger Hedman
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful portrait of a remarkable man and inventor. Riveting stories. Clear insights into the history of science in the early 20th and late 19th centuries.
Malcolm Keller
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so much better than "The Current War." That movie barely gives any credit to Nikola Tesla who actually won the current war. This book reads well but has lots of information. It reveals Tesla the individual as well as the inventor. It also offers great perspectives on history in the late nineteen and early twentieth centuries. By far the best Tesla biography. Recommend highly. ...more
Elliott Pierce
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a treat! Finally a readable, enjoyable, and insightful book about Nikola Tesla, the great inventor who usually doesn't obtain the respect he deserves. Munson offers a fast-paced and fluid portrait of the remarkable scientist, but he also explains Tesla's history and highlights his human side. A wonderful read. ...more
Peter Watson
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Current War," the new movie with Benedict Cumberbatch, doesn't do Nikola Tesla justice. This book does, and it's about time. Tesla lived a fascinating life and gave us the technologies that support our modern economy. Very well written biography. Richard Munson's careful research makes the book both rich and fascinating ...more
Amy Albertson
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating character. Engaging biography. Well written Insightful stories.
Herbert Cole
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great biography of an extraordinary inventor. This book explains Tesla's achievements but also describes his upbringing and relationships. Well researched and written. ...more
Elizabeth Waltman
Wonderful biography, a real page turner. Tesla was a great inventor, giving us the electric motor, radio, and remote control. He lived an eventful life, which Munson reveals convincingly.
Eloise Sunshine
We all know about Elon Musk's electric car called Tesla, we may know about this inventor through some Hollywood movies, but this book was definitely eye-opening to me. Without his inventions who knows what our current world would truly look like? Maybe a lot as the punk-steam culture depicts.

He was certainly way ahead of his own time and the saddest part is that he lacked a person next to him to take care of the financial part of his life - he might have accomplished so much more had there been
Lukas Lovas
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Well written, and worth reading if you don't really have much of an idea about Teslas life. I personally was a bit clueless knowing the name and some basics, so this book gave me a lot of new info. I especially found it fascinating to see the beginning of research into electricity and how patenting worked back then. ...more
Garry Geer
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A balanced careful look at the life of Tesla and his influence on the development of technology itself. The author works hard at carefully giving Tesla credit for his accomplishments while making sure that the inventor is shorn of his semi-mythical status.
T.D. Otis
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly fascinating.
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the first book I have ever read about Nikolai Tesla. I had no idea that he was the inventor of so many critical things. A brilliant, but strange guy.
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating history of Nicola Tesla. Chronicles his relationships with Twain, Edison, Westinghouse and other less famous names from his birth in Serbia to his senior years in a series of New York hotels.
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: innovation, biography
Thank you Richard Munson for bringing ​Tesla to the reader with ​the ​incredible passion ​and excitement that dripped from every page. Munson managed to create sensationalism without sacrificing facts. ​From the first page, Munson made clear that his intention was to separate fact from myth. In doing so he set the record straight about the ​accolades attributed​ of Edison and ​Marconi that should really be attributed to Tesla. ​For example, Tesla​'​s engines run our motors and our factories yet ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The best biography of Tesla I've read, second only to Tesla's autobiography. ...more
Susan Collins
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tesla? More people know about the car than the man. Richard Munson does a great job correcting this mistake since the man's life is fascinating and his inventions -- including electric motors and robots -- underpin our economy. "Tesla: Inventor of the Modern" is an easy read, although it is filled with insightful details. Great biography of a remarkable individual that deserve more attention. ...more
Malcolm Rogers
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At last a book that does Nikola Tesla justice. Munson doesn't suggest Tesla was a superman, even if his inventions were super; he also doesn't focus on the scientist's quirks, even though they impact his life. Munson offers a very well written and fair and insightful biography that reveals a remarkable inventor and fascinating individual. This biography should be read widely. ...more
Robert Altenburg
You hear so much about Tesla. Without a doubt he is one of the most fascinating characters of the late 19th and early 20th century, but at this point it can be hard to separate the myth from the reality. This new book by Dick Munson not only discusses Tesla’s accomplishments also explores his character and motivations. The story is both inspirational and tragic, but it’s an excellent read.
Greg Anderson
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've long yearned for Tesla information. Biographies to date, however, have been a bit technical and dry ... until now. Richard Munson brings this remarkable inventor to life. Tesla is such an important character and Munson provides the needed attention and credit.

Reads like a novel. Highly recommended.
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Dick Munson is the author of "Tesla: Inventor of the Modern," a biography of the under-appreciate genius who brought us the electric motor, radio, robots, and remote control. He also wrote "From Edison to Enron," a history of the electricity industry; "The Cardinals of Capitol Hill," a behind-the-scenes look at congressional appropriators; and "Cousteau: The Captain and His World," a biography of ...more

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“Kirkus (starred review): A lucid, expertly researched biography of the brilliant Nikola Tesla. (Readers) will absolutely enjoy (Munson’s) sympathetic, insightful portrait.

Booklist: Celebratory, comprehensive profile. ….A well-written, insightful addition to the legacy of this still-underappreciated visionary genius.

Library Journal: Entrepreneurs, inventors, engineers, and futurists will find this biography inspiring.

Gretchen Bakke (author of "The Grid"): Munson has provided us with an intimate tapestry of Tesla's life, personality, and inventions. Filled with quotes, and clearly researched with great care, Munson brings Tesla to life, not as a superhero but as a man—both ordinary and extraordinary. What surprised me, and proved to be one of the great pleasures of the book was to realize how much Tesla’s story is an immigrant story.

Anne Pramaggiore (CEO of Commonwealth Edison): Tesla is an exactingly-researched history and wonderfully crafted tale of one of the most important and fascinating visionaries of the technological age. This book’s teachings have never been more relevant than in today’s world of digital transformation.”
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