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The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World Hardcover – 13 Mar 2007
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This book provides insights into Edison's life - the roller coaster nature of being an inventor, his dogged determination to perfect the phonograph, the multiple commercial and financial setbacks, and the people behind the scenes who helped (and hindered) him along the way. I found this a compelling book, particularly having read so many dry textbooks recently on innovation. Innovation is a difficult process to describe and yet it is critical to almost all endeavours. Frequently when attempting to understand the innovation process, many authors reduce the process to a set of rather abstract processes that lack the human touch making the processes difficult to relate to. Ultimately, innovation is a by-product of an inquisitive mind in the right sort of social and commercial setting.
In many ways, it is the quintessentially human activity. This book helped to bring real life to a set of abstract processes described elsewhere. I would highly recommend reading this book AFTER reading a number of the innovation textbooks. It helps underline the more abstract issues raised by other authors as well as providing another viewpoint on the innovation process.
This book seems to take a very balanced view of Edison's life - offsetting myth against, what has become, legend. Highly recommended for anyone interested in innovation.
I finished it but it was like completing a work or school white paper.
I got a sense of Edison from reading this book as being a great innovator but a poor business man and an average husband, father, friend and competitor at best but his legend will live on for those innovations he brought to make our world a better place.
So this book gets the message across but the read is difficult and really not so enjoyable as biographies should be. I read a biography of Dickens recently, got the sense of the man and also enjoyed the read, for this book, just the former and not the latter.
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