Edison’s key contributions include the carbon microphone, the electric light bulb, electricity distribution systems, the phonograph and the motion-picture camera. Edison’s methods were also remarkable: halfway between the craftsman-tinkerer of the early 19th century and the scientist of today, he established and ran pioneering research laboratories with large staffs, yet lacked training in mathematics or the basic sciences.
Matthew Josephson’s Edison: A Biography won the Society of American Historians’Francis Parkman Prize in 1960.
“This is an outstanding biography... [Josephson] establishes the developing relationship between finance and invention which constitutes the basis for Edison’s success... [He] has mastered the substance of Edison’s inventive activity and has written of it quite authoritatively and vividly.” — Thomas P. Hughes, Technology and Culture
“... It is clear that there is reason to welcome yet another book about a man of whom so much has been written. It must have been precisely because so much in the Edison record is myth, fostered by adulators and by Edison himself that Mr. Josephson turned his skillful, corrective hand to a saga that may have seemed more familiar than it actually is. From his well-presented, well-written findings emerges a giant without whom much of life as we live it would simply not exist. It is a first-rate job that needed doing.” — John K. Hutchens, New York Herald Tribune
“A well-researched account of the life of one of America’s authentic folk heroes--Thomas Alva Edison--an original creator with a genius for strategic invention... Thoroughly absorbing, this significant volume is a competent contribution to the history of American science, and gives not only a sharply drawn picture of this self-educated giant of invention, but also of the beginnings of the telegraph, electrical, record, motion picture and automobile industries, as well as the sociological changes that were wrought by Edison’s practical discoveries.” — Kirkus Review
“A biography that is dignified, detailed, and objective, sprinkled with moments of humor, pathos, and drama... One of the chief virtues of this book is the care taken by the author to build up a realistic picture of Edison the man.” — F. Garvin Davenport,The American Historical Review
Born in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish immigrants from Romania and Russia, Matthew Josephson (1899-1978) graduated with an A.B. from Columbia University in 1920 and worked briefly as a reporter for the Newark Ledger. As an expatriate in Paris in the 1920s “to win a year or two of freedom and give all my time to writing,” he was associate editor of Broom: An International Magazine of the Arts (1922–24), befriended leading surrealists like Paul Éluard, André Breton, Louis Aragon and Max Ernst and was an editor at the magazine transition (1928–29). After returning to America, Josephson worked on Wall Street before joining the editorial staff of The New Republic. He contributed regularly to The Nation, The New Yorker, and the Saturday Evening Post.
His first book was a biography of Émile Zola, Zola and His Time: The History of His Martial Career in Letters (1928). Interested in 19th-century French literature, he also wrote the biographies Victor Hugo (1942) and Stendhal (1946). His books about American economic history include The Robber Barons: The Great American Capitalists, 1861–1901 (1934), which chronicles the lives of late 19th century barons of industry like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, Edison: A Biography (1959) and The Money Lords: The Great Finance Capitalists, 1925–1950 (1972). Josephson wrote two memoirs, Life Among the Surrealists (1962) and Infidel in the Temple(1967). He was elected a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1948.
Elon Musk spotlights the technology and vision of Elon Musk, the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, who sold one of his Internet companies, PayPal, for $1.5 billion. Ashlee Vance captures the full spectacle and arc of the genius’s life and work, from his tumultuous upbringing in South Africa and flight to the United States to his dramatic technical innovations and entrepreneurial pursuits.
Vance uses Musk’s story to explore one of the pressing questions of our age: can the nation of inventors and creators who led the modern world for a century still compete in an age of fierce global competition? He argues that Musk—one of the most unusual and striking figures in American business history—is a contemporary, visionary amalgam of legendary inventors and industrialists including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs. More than any other entrepreneur today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as the visionaries of the golden age of science-fiction fantasy.
Thorough and insightful, Elon Musk brings to life a technology industry that is rapidly and dramatically changing by examining the life of one of its most powerful and influential titans.
In this illustrated history, Steven Johnson explores the history of innovation over centuries, tracing facets of modern life (refrigeration, clocks, and eyeglass lenses, to name a few) from their creation by hobbyists, amateurs, and entrepreneurs to their unintended historical consequences. Filled with surprising stories of accidental genius and brilliant mistakes—from the French publisher who invented the phonograph before Edison but forgot to include playback, to the Hollywood movie star who helped invent the technology behind Wi-Fi and Bluetooth—How We Got to Now investigates the secret history behind the everyday objects of contemporary life.
In his trademark style, Johnson examines unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated fields: how the invention of air-conditioning enabled the largest migration of human beings in the history of the species—to cities such as Dubai or Phoenix, which would otherwise be virtually uninhabitable; how pendulum clocks helped trigger the industrial revolution; and how clean water made it possible to manufacture computer chips. Accompanied by a major six-part television series on PBS, How We Got to Now is the story of collaborative networks building the modern world, written in the provocative, informative, and engaging style that has earned Johnson fans around the globe.