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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wired, 1 Sep 2003
By 
Bruce Loveitt (Ogdensburg, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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. Besides being weak on theory, Marconi also failed to see the commercial possibilities of transmitting the human voice and other sounds by wireless...in other words, radio broadcasts. That was left to others, such as Lee de Forest, to develop. While Mr. Weightman is a little lightweight on biographical depth and psychological complexity (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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marconi's Magic Box, 12 Jan 2012
By 
Geof Curtis "Geof" (Bournemouth England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Signor Marconi's Magic Box: The Most Remarkable Invention of the 19th Century and the Amateur Inventor Whose Genius Sparked a Revolution (Paperback)
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
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5.0 out of 5 stars A factual thriller, this, 16 Jan 2012
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.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magic Book about a Magic Box, 20 Oct 2003
By A Customer
An absolutely splendid book, I couldn't put it down.
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