Shop now Shop Clothing clo_fly_aw15_NA_shoes Shop All Shop All Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop Amazon Fire TV Shop now Shop Fire HD 6 Shop Kindle Paperwhite Shop now Shop Now Shop now
FREE Delivery in the UK.
In stock.
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.
Gift-wrap available.
Quantity:1
Signor Marconi's Magic Bo... has been added to your Basket
+ £2.80 UK delivery
Used: Very Good | Details
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Shipped to over one million happy customers. Your purchase benefits world literacy!
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Signor Marconi's Magic Box: The Most Remarkable Invention of the 19th Century and the Amateur Inventor Whose Genius Sparked a Revolution Paperback – 1 Sep 2004

4 customer reviews

See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
£10.99
£7.96 £1.44

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Save £20 on Amazon.co.uk with the aqua Classic card. Get an initial credit line of £250-£1,200 and build your credit rating. Representative 32.9% APR (variable). Subject to term and conditions. Learn more.



Product details

  • Paperback: 346 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press Ed edition (1 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306813785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306813788
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,375,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

‘Gavin Weightman brings alive the excitement and uncertainty of the early wireless experiments. His book cannot fail to spark the imagination of anyone wishing to comprehend the magnitude of the revolution brought about by wireless. It is an excellent read' New Scientist
'A fascinating story set in a fascinating period' Sunday Tribune (Dublin)
'Gavin Weightman's impeccably researched book is far more than a fact-led shunt through the Marconi story. His prose shimmers with the kind of romance that, in the mobile phone age, is quite difficult to grasp. But what a lovely story! An unassuming young chap confronts and defies the finest scientific minds in the world. It is pleasing to report that the cinematic aspect of this tale comes gloriously alive within Weightman's evocative, vividly detailed writing. Utterly captivating and, even for techno-dunces like myself, wholly illuminating' Manchester Evening News
'Fascinating…I strongly recommend this book, [and] salute Gavin Weightman for his lucid account of the radio revolution' Trevor Baylis, Daily Mail

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

Gavin Weightman is an experienced television documentary-maker (producer/director/writer), journalist and author of many books such as The Making of Modern London: 1815–1914, The Making of Modern London: 1914–1939, London River, Picture Post Britain and Rescue: A History of the British Emergency Services (Boxtree). His first book for HarperCollins, The Frozen Water Trade, was published in February 2002. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book

(Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
2
4 star
2
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See all 4 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Loveitt on 1 Sept. 2003
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Edison, who was a man who was not easily impressed, once quipped about Guglielmo Marconi that he "delivered more than he promised." This statement demonstrates two of Marconi's most significant traits: he was modest and extremely hard working. Marconi was the first to admit that his work was based on both the theories and the inventions of others. He also acknowledged that he didn't understand the reason his own inventions worked. He believed, contrary to many of his contemporaries, that "radio" waves could travel great distances. Many other people thought the waves could not be transmitted to a receiver that was beyond the horizon line...that at longer distances the waves would travel off into outer space. Based on his own, stubborn, personal belief, with no theoretical underpinning, Marconi kept things simple: he built taller transmitters and he kept making them more powerful. His goal was to transmit electrical signals in Morse Code that could be received across the Atlantic Ocean. He eventually succeeded in this, and gained worldwide fame and popularity when wireless telegraphy, after being used by ships in distress at sea, resulted in the saving of many lives. Marconi was also an astute businessman, rather than a starry eyed inventor. (He amassed a very healthy fortune, equal perhaps to $200-$250 million today.) He was an early master of public relations- for example, using wireless to report on important yacht races, which helped to "popularize" the use of wireless (albeit, with people of "quality"...who had money to invest). Mr. Weightman doesn't ignore the less savory aspects of the inventor: Marconi's womanizing and obsession with work resulted in the termination of his first marriage; also, in later life, he got buddy-buddy with Signor Mussolini.Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Geof Curtis on 12 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very interesting book. I am particularly interested in Marconi's Bournemouth and Poole connection. Although I have yet to finish it. I would like to point out some errors: Page 178 Brownsea Island is situated within Poole Harbour, not outside it. One of Charles and Florence van Raalte's daughters names was Margherita not Margarite. I appreciate these points might be considered by some to be trivial, but as an historian I feel it then throws doubt as to the accuracy of the sources used.
Geof Curtis
National Trust Brownsea Island Archive Team
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
By Howard on 16 Jan. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Quite a thriller - the battles with the cable companies, details of technical triumphs by Marconi and his associates, colourful characters, the international politics and family background. Gavin Weightman is a skilled and engaging writer. More than 300 pages, pictures, and a good index.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Oct. 2003
Format: Hardcover
An absolutely splendid book, I couldn't put it down.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Looking (and thinking) inside the box 7 April 2004
By Mr P R Morgan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The story of the development of wireless technology is complicated and surrounded by claim and counter claim. Marconi is undoubtedly the central figure of this story but the main characters are interwoven like the twisted pair wires that were replaced by the increasing use of telegraph communications.
Einstein has said that scientific advance is opaque with foresight, transparent with hindsight, and this book amply illustrates the point. It is easy to look back on the breakthroughs of Guiglielmo Marconi and belittle the impact. Yet much of the enormous advances at the end of the 20th century would not have been possible without Marconi (or rather the technology STARTED by Marconi's discoveries). Marconi was a strange mixture of modern and ancient, and did not understand the theoretical background of his advances. Nor does the reader need to understand the science of signal transmission to thoroughly enjoy the book. It is interesting and enlightening to see the attempts to rationalise how `radio' worked, particularly by some of his contemporaries. I suspect that some of our own imperfect understandings will be viewed with similar wonder when viewed from the other side of lucid explanations.
The story is generally well told, and is particularly effective when describing three Atlantic dramas in the years just before the First World War. The passengers rescued from the steam ships Republic and Titanic owed their rescue to both the technology, and to the seriously dedicated wireless operators. Indeed, the operators from the Titanic only ceased transmitting about 20 minutes before the vessel went down, and one of the pair perished. In the third drama, Dr Crippen was apprehended in New York after `escaping' on a trans-Atlantic voyage - the ship's captain recognised the man who had murdered his wife, and the `Marconi men' on board informed the authorities. Both English and French newspapers published the `chase', charting the positions of both Crippen's vessel, and that of the following Inspector Drew (in a faster vessel, which arrived first in New York).
Marconi's advances shine through the pages of the book, but even though it is not dwelt upon, Marconi as a man receives very much less favourable coverage. I suppose if he had been a `better' person, he would not have made the breakthroughs of which we are all grateful.
Peter Morgan (morganp@supanet.com)
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Wired 31 Aug. 2003
By Bruce Loveitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thomas Edison, who was a man who was not easily impressed, once quipped about Guglielmo Marconi that he "delivered more than he promised." This statement demonstrates two of Marconi's most significant traits: he was modest and extremely hard working. Marconi was the first to admit that his work was based on both the theories and the inventions of others. He also acknowledged that he didn't understand the reason his own inventions worked. He believed, contrary to many of his contemporaries, that "radio" waves could travel great distances. Many other people thought the waves could not be transmitted to a receiver that was beyond the horizon line...that at longer distances the waves would travel off into outer space. Based on this belief, with no theoretical underpinning, Marconi kept things simple: he built taller transmitters and he kept making them more powerful. His goal was to transmit electrical signals in Morse Code that could be received across the Atlantic Ocean. He eventually succeeded in this, and gained worldwide fame and popularity when wireless telegraphy, after being used by ships in distress at sea, resulted in the saving of many lives. Marconi was also an astute businessman, rather than a starry eyed inventor.(He amassed a very healthy fortune, perhaps equal to $200-$250 million today.) He was an early master of public relations- for example, using wireless to report on important yacht races. Mr. Weightman doesn't ignore the less savory aspects of the inventor: Marconi's womanizing and obsession with work resulted in the termination of his first marriage. As previously mentioned, Marconi was very weak on theory. He also failed to see the commercial possibilities of radio. That was left to others, such as Lee de Forest, to develop. While Mr. Weightman is a little skimpy on biographical depth (I never quite felt I understood what made Marconi tick), he is great on interesting details...for example, he explains how wireless was used to help capture the infamous murderer Dr. Crippen, and he also tells how Orthodox Russian priests once almost destroyed Marconi equipment because they wanted to anoint it with holy water! The book is meant for the lay reader, and the scientific detail is kept to a minimum. Very enjoyable.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
We learn much about aerials, but not much about inventions. 21 Feb. 2005
By Tom Brody - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book, at 291 pages, is a quick read. It can be read in about two hours. We learn that Marconi's main contribution was to combine Heinrich Hertz's invention of radio waves with Oliver Lodge's invention of the coherer. We learn of Marconi's discovery of radio waves bouncing off the upper atmosphere, an effect essential for trans-Atlantic radio waves (paves 53-55, 258). We learn of Marconi's "spark method" which worked better than Edison's jumping current method. We learn that it was actually David Hughes (pages 97-98) and Oliver Heaviside (pages 128-131), not Marconi, who built the first wireless. We also learn that Nathan Stubblefield was the inventor of a wireless that could transmit not just Morse code, but also voices and music.

Much of the book tells about Marconi's efforts at building higher aerials and scouting out locations to build aerials, e.g., on various ships, in Cape Cod, Newfoundland, or Santa Catalina Island. In fact, this is the major thrust of the book: scouting out locations for building aerials. The book should not have been called "Signor Marconi's Magic Box," since we learn nothing about the "spark method" or the "coherer" beyond their names. Instead, the book should have been called "Signor Marconi Builder of Aerials." The word "patent" occurs 19 times in the book, but here the word patent is just used in passing, and we learn nothing about the patents, or how they represented improvements over the earlier state of the radio art. "Patent" does not even occur in the index.

The book spends a good deal of time utilizing literary devices, especially the literary device of describing the weather, and the literary device of naming personalities with little or no direct relevance to Marconi. For example, we are told that "on a misty morning three days later a Russian hospital ship sighted another vessel" (page 200). We learn that "the men who were working ran out into the snow in mad rejoicing" (page 146). We find that "day after day through the hot summer months of 1895 . . ."(page 16). We are told that "tens of thousands of chimneys filled the air with the sooty haze" (page 21). We read that "this was a deeply romantic corner of England, a treacherous rocky coast. . . where people still talked of lost bounties of wrecked . . . Spanish galleons" (page 72). We also read that "outside, his men braved the icy winds which blew small icebergs into Glace Bay" (page 100). Moreover, we learn about "out on the snowy wastes of Brant Rock . . ." (page 208). Additionally, we read that "in the summer heat the stony earth shimmers" (page 281) and that "a storm blew up from the northwest" (page 264). The author is a confirmed name-dropper. We learn the names of Marconi's competitors, and the names of Marconi's love interests, literary figures, sports figures, and political figures of the time (e.g., King Victor Emmanuel; Reginald Fessenden; Nevil Maskelyne; Frank Fayant; Alexander Popov; Gordon Bennett; Eugene Ducretet; Inez Milholland; Thomas Lipton; Lionel James; Rossini; Chopin; Arthur Conan Doyle; Frederick Treves; Amos Dolbear; Alaxandre Dumas; Nellie Melba; Beatrice O'Brien; Edmund Gurney; Frederic Myers; Leonore Piper; George Bernard Shaw; Joseph Pulitzer; and Cristina Bezza-Scali; Rudyard Kipling; Bob Fitzsimmons; Jim Jeffries; Jack Dempsey; Henry McClure; just to name a few). On and on and on goes the list of irrelevant names. The book devotes atleast ten times more space describing Marconi's romantic interests than describing the engineers who work for Marconi.

To conclude, the author Gavin Weightman provides us with a book having a misleading title (Signor Marconi's Magic Box) and a misleading subtitle (The Most Remarkable Invention of the 19th Century). The book contains only a moderate amount of interesting material, but a huge amount of fluff. The book does not explain the nature of a coherer, a Herzian wave, or the spark method, and reveals very little about Marconi's collaborators and coworkers, essentially nothing about Marconi's business partners, and essentially nothing about what Marconi had actually invented. In striking contrast is Tom Lewis' book Empire of the Air. Tom Lewis covers the history of radio with the insight expected of somebody who is an electrical engineer having a J.D. and an M.B.A. Five stars to Tom Lewis' book Empire of the Air.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A good look at the early 20th century 26 Jan. 2004
By C. Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is easily read and handles technical issues without getting bogged down in detail. An amateur radio enthusiast would be left hungering for more on the devices, antennas, etc. that Marconi used, but those who are not familiar with the principles of radio should find this book very satisfying. Hertz, Maxwell, Heaviside, DeForest are all here but, as the author makes clear, Marconi himself had no idea about the science underlying his success but was persistent nonetheless. The author ventures into personalities and sensations of the period that will keep you moving through the chapters. Imagine projecting news headlines onto the clouds with high powered lights! Weightman will tell you about it. I had no idea that there was a successful broadcasting service by telephone in Budapest before 1900, with music and news. Threading it all together is Marconi's remarkable life of staying ahead of the pack until the development of the electron tube. You'll get a wonderful sense of the optimism, excitement and wonder of the pre-WWI period in a well told story. I closed the book amazed that all that I had read took place only 100 years, such a short time, ago.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Like Early Wireless Itself: Useful, but Flawed 8 Feb. 2005
By M. Nelson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
From the title, you might suppose this book to be a history of early wireless, with an emphasis on Marconi's work. And so it is, to some degree. It is much more a biography of Marconi, for whom Weightman has an evident fondness. But it is a weak biography, in that it does not delve into Marconi's life too deeply, or too long. Indeed, the book effectively ends (or rather, just stops) at the First World War, with a final chapter or two about the last years of Marconi's life 20 years later. And it's a somewhat incomplete story of early wireless, concentrating (understandably) mostly on Marconi's work, with only glimpses of the advances made by so many other pioneers. Still, it is an interesting and informative read, fleshing out the bare bones of the earliest years of an emerging technology. It just left me wondering what happened to the second half of the book.
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know


Feedback