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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: 9780471362708
ISBN-10: 0471362700
Format: Paperback
(236mm x 157mm x 36mm)
Pages: 560
Imprint: John Wiley & Sons Inc
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Publish Date: 14-Mar-2000
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions


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)

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Author Biography - Paul B. Israel

PAUL ISREAL 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.

Books By Author Paul B. Israel

Papers of Thomas A. Edison by Paul B. Israel

The Papers of Thomas A. Edison

Hardback, January 2016
Edison's Electric Light by Paul B. Israel

Edison's Electric Light

Paperback, August 2010
Edison by Paul B. Israel


Hardback, September 1998