Edison by Paul B. Israel
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By Paul B. Israel


A Life of Invention

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Format: Hardback

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Edison by Paul B. Israel

Book Description

The definitive biography of the century's godfather of invention-from the preeminent Edison scholar "Israel's meticulous research and refusal to shy away from the dodgier aspects of Edison's personality offers a fresh glimpse into the life of the inventor."-New Scientist "Remarkable."-Nature "An authoritative look into Edison's working methods, here leavened by enough personal detail to give the achievements shape."-Publishers Weekly "Highly recommended." "Israel's book should go a long way toward taking Edison out of the shadows and placing him in the proper light."-Atlanta Journal-Constitution "Exhaustively researched, with strong emphasis on Edison's methods and achievements."-Kirkus Reviews The conventional story of Thomas Edison reads more like myth than history: With only three months of formal education, a hardworking young man overcomes the odds and becomes one of the greatest inventors in history. But the portrait that emerges from Edison: A Life of Invention reveals a man of genius and astonishing foresight whose career was actually a product of his fast-changing era. In this peerless biography, Paul Israel exposes for the first time the man behind the inventions, expertly situating his subject within a thoroughly realized portrait of a burgeoning country on the brink of massive change. Informed by Israel's unprecedented access to workshop diaries, notebooks, letters, and more than five million pages of archives, this definitive biography brings fresh insights to a singularly influential and triumphant career in science.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780471529422
ISBN-10: 0471529427
Format: Hardback
(233mm x 161mm x 40mm)
Pages: 560
Imprint: John Wiley & Sons Inc
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Publish Date: 24-Sep-1998
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...

Books By Author Paul B. Israel

Papers of Thomas A. Edison by Paul B. Israel Papers of Thomas A. Edison, Hardback (January 2016)

Illustrated with hundreds of Edison's drawings, these documents are further illuminated by meticulous research on a wide range of sources, including the most recently digitized newspapers and journals of the day.

Edison's Electric Light by Paul B. Israel Edison's Electric Light, Paperback (August 2010)

Revised and updated from the original 1986 edition, this definitive study of the most famous invention of America's most famous inventor is completely keyed to the printed and electronic versions of the Edison Papers, inviting the reader to explore further the remarkable original sources.

Edison by Paul B. Israel Edison, Paperback (March 2000)

This biography of Thomas Edison (1847-1931) studies and evaluates his career as an inventor and explores in detail how he created inventions that shaped the 20th century, including the electric light, photography, and over 1000 other items.

» View all books by Paul B. Israel


UK Kirkus Review » Thomas Alva Edison was, at his death, described as the 'Inventor of the Age', and no wonder, with 1093 US patents and inventions to his name, including the development of the phonograph, the first successful electric lightbulb and the first electrical power distribution company. And yet, many still believe Edison to have been a tinkerer, who achieved his amazing results through simple trial-and-error. However, as Paul Israel shows in this definitive life of Thomas Edison, this perception is very far from the truth. Drawing on over 5 million pages of archival documents, Israel paints a rich portrait of the 'Wizard of Menlo Park', showing him to have been very much a product of his age; a clever, well-read man who studied hard in his younger days, despite little formal schooling, and who succeeded as a result of his studies. Israel also places him firmly in historical context, showing him not as a mythic figure embodying persistence and individuality, but as a man who worked with others to achieve the best results, taking advantage of their expert knowledge and laying the foundations for modern collaborative research. Scholarly and fascinating, this biography is a highly readable and compelling account of one of the most remarkable men of his age. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » As much as any man in history, Thomas Alva Edison changed the fabric of everyday life. Here's a big new biography of the great inventor, by a leading Edison scholar. Israel, managing editor of the Rutgers edition of Edison's papers, takes pains to place the inventor in the context of his times. A good deal of attention is devoted to his early career. The son of Canadian emigrants to northern Ohio, Edison (1847 - 1931) learned to read and write from his schoolteacher mother, rather than from his sporadic formal schooling. His father's books taught him the scientific method and analytical thinking. His first jobs were as a telegrapher, moving from city to city. His desire to master this skilled profession led to his first invention: a device to allow novice telegraphers to vary the speed of a message for practice. Edison's growing body of experimentation was recorded in notebooks he kept as early as 1867, and from which Israel produces numerous drawings and excerpts. By 1869, his search for new telegraphic applications bore fruit in a service delivering financial news to brokerages. Edison quit his job as a telegraph operator to move to New York and concentrate on developing new inventions. There, with a reputation for cleverness and an ability to enlist wealthy backers, he was soon putting in 16-hour days fulfilling new contracts. His insatiable curiosity led him to branch out into fields ranging from metallurgy to plastics to, eventually, the triumphs of the electric light, sound recording, and literally hundreds of other inventions. Israel covers his career in depth, with discussions of technical considerations at the forefront, and frequent reference to Edison's own writings and reported conversation. The inventor's personal life, which he himself put a distant second behind his work, receives the occasional sidelong glance, though it's hard to say that any great new light is shed on it. Exhaustively researched, with a strong emphasis on Edison's methods and achievements. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Paul B. Israel

PAUL ISRAEL is the Managing Editor of the multivolume documentary edition of the Thomas Edison Papers at Rutgers University and the coauthor of Edison's Electric Light. He lives in Highland Park, New Jersey.

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