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

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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,484 ratings  ·  424 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
Paperback, Citadel Press, 542 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by Citadel (first published January 1st 1996)
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Start your review of Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla: Biography of a Genius
Το Άθχημο γατί του θενιόρ Γκουαναμίρου
"It is not humans that I love, but humanity".

Born in Serbia, a true Balkan till end of his life, educated in Europe, where he lived for a while before settling permanently in America, influenced by Eastern religions (Buddhism) and theosophy, Tesla seems to incorporate many different ideas, attitudes, perceptions, interpretations into his worldview, and ends up becoming an enigmatic personality.

A 22nd-century spirit bound by 19th-century constraints, a mind that conceived the shapes of the futur
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David
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, history
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
R.K. Gold
Jan 18, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5/5

It has been done! This biography took me so long to read! I began in summer 2016 but couldn’t get into it. Picked it back up at the start of my fall semester this year but couldn’t get into it. Picked it up again at the end of the semester and forced myself to through.

All in all his was a fascinating book that did an incredible job capturing the complicated life of an American Immigrant icon.

While I was reading the book I struggled with how in depth and technical it got with his patents an
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Paul
Jan 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Margie
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Glynn
Apr 26, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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BetseaK
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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Rohan
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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J.P.
May 07, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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britt_brooke
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a bit dry and very technical, but totally fascinating! Tesla’s life spanned 86 years and witnessed some amazing discoveries, many his own. He was an eccentric with an astonishing mind, living decades in NYC hotels, developing a penchant for pigeons, and was a self-described celibate. We can thank Nikola Tesla for many of our modern conveniences. And he was friends with Mark Twain which is pretty cool in my book.
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
Fred Hughes
Jan 25, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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Martina
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Morgan Blackledge
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Daniel
Nov 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Tesla is da Vinci reincarnated! I'm certain of it
RTC what an amazing man!
2017 Lenten Buddy Reading Challenge book #20
Erica
Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mike Hernandez
May 26, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Steven Peterson
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Emily Ross
This was quite a hard read, due to its length of 22 hours and dense descriptions of Tesla's machines and devices. Having read many Tesla biographies and books before this, it almost confused me. The narrator also made this book quite hard to listen to due to his overpronunciation of the letter 's' no matter where in the word the letter was.

While the majority of the information was good, I disagree with Seifer's conclusions. One being that Tesla was homosexual; Seifer's argument hinges on the poi
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Jessica Baumgartner
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Lisa
Feb 24, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Elisabeth
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
A thorough book about the life of Nikola Tesla. I am happy there is this book with much research having gone into his life to get an objective view of what was going on, why possibly he was the kind of person he was, and all the external factors forging his path in life as it did.
Adam Ford
Sep 28, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Tony Heyl
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
I hadn't read much about Tesla's life and inventions, so I thought this would be enlightening and a pleasure to read. As a person interested in science and technology, this seemed like a great choice. Instead, it was pretty boring. In some ways, Tesla comes across as the genius he is, being at the forefront of the electronic age and developing solutions and ideas for wireless communication, light, and electricity for all. On the other hand, his financial problems and his issues with getting cred ...more
Gendou
Jul 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
This is a detailed (way too long) biography of the life of Nicola Tesla. It is dense, historical, and emphasizes the inventor's business dealings and patent turmoils. It goes into speculation about his personal life. It was painfully boring for me to read, but I stuck with it, out of misguided hope that the science of his inventions would be discussed. Eventually, I got to the part in the book where (spoiler alert) he dies. To my dismay, the chronicle continues, with government interest in his e ...more
Jason Bergman
Dec 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nabila
Jan 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
Spectacular...ly boring. This is such a long book, stuffed with technical information about Tesla's discoveries; which is fair enough, but the technical takes precedent over a cohesive narrative. The book follows a rigorous chronological order without attempting to try and make a story that flows.

There are random insertions of history and notable people of the time; I think the intent was to provide colour and depth to the story, but they are so clumsily inserted that even if you were lucky eno
...more
Linda Harkins
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Esa Ruoho
Jan 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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why read? 6 46 May 17, 2014 11:33PM  
Science and Inquiry: May 2013 - Wizard 24 105 Jun 08, 2013 03:55AM  

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“In 1976, while involved in research at the New York Public Library, I stumbled upon a strange text entitled Return of the Dove which claimed that there was a man not born of this planet who landed as a baby in the mountains of Croatia in 1856. Raised by “earth parents,” an avatar had arrived for the sole purpose of inaugurating the New Age. By providing humans with a veritable cornucopia of inventions, he had created, in essence, the technological backbone of the modern era.1 His name was Nikola Tesla, and his inventions included the induction motor, the electrical-power distribution system, fluorescent and neon lights, wireless communication, remote control, and robotics.” 1 likes
“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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