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Edison's Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life Hardcover – Aug 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (Aug. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679451129
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679451129
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,754,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Django on 12 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Magical it's not.
Factually accurate (probably). I found the facts interesting, but I was expecting some decent illustrations, rather than the few tiny photographs and diagrams which were almost unintelligible.
The "Quest for mechanical life" is extended to include real life in Hollywood at the making of "Freaks" and "The wizard of Oz" - interesting facts in themselves, but nothing to do with automata.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nigel Barnett on 9 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
This was one of the worst written books I have come across for some considerable time. It reads like a school project and is devoid of both original thought and historical knowledge. The greatest mystery is how a respectable firm could publish and disseminate such drivel ...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating read. 5 Mar. 2003
By JAL - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book for anyone interested in automata - and that includes computer people interested in artificial language, philosophers interested in what makes us human, cultural anthropologists interested in the interaction of humans and machines, and poets interested in all of the above. If you like this, try also The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous
Eighteenth-Century Chess-Playing Machine by Tom Standage. Equally strange & pleasurable.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An Anecdotal, Quirky History 28 July 2003
By Ricky Hunter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Edison's Eve (Edison's attempt to create a successful talking doll) is both the title of Gaby Wood's book and one of the centrepiece chapters of this journey on the quest for mechanical life. Other chapters concern the Doll Family of midgets, the movies of Melies, the automatons of Vaucanson and the deception of the chess playing Turk (not an actual automaton). These pieces do not always blend together smoothly but the author works very hard to connect all the dots. On their own, though, each chapter is fascinating and filled with memorable anecdotes and will have the reader looking at the world in a different way. An enjoyable read.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
mechanical humans: an ironic look 28 July 2007
By time traveler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Recounting in successive biographic episodes the ultimately pathetic efforts of men to build, with their own hands, artificial humans, Gaby Wood offers a uniquely female perspective. Especially since the mechanicals were often meant to be women. Although very learned, the author does not aim at an engineering evaluation. Rather, the stories she tells will elicit in psychologically sensitive readers a mixture of laughter and horror. As was the case with the audiences in front of which these creatures were presented, readers will first be fascinated but then will turn away in revulsion.
casual, euro-centric, sensationalist 23 April 2015
By Megan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very euro-centric, anecdotal; attempts to cast technological advances in an occult-like mystique. Spends a lot of time talking about things that aren't relevant to the development of autonomous technology, like the plot of 19th c. Edison fanfic, or whether or not chess causes insanity. Seems tangential and casual. Would rather read a more formal analysis with arguments and supporting facts, rather than suppositions and guesses.
Edison's Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical LifeGaby Wood 22 Nov. 2012
By Dorothea Carney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
WOW! Anyone interested in puppetry, anamatrons, magic, history will surely love this book. I couldn't put it down until I had finished it. I enjoyed the wonderful illustrations and photos. I read a review of this book on Puptcrit.org by Nancy Lohman Staub. Anything she recommends, I read.
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