Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
on 19 September 2013
"I misunderstood Tesla. I think we all misunderstood Tesla. We thought he was a dreamer and a visionary. He did dream but his dreams came true, he did have visions but they were of a real future, not an imaginary one."
The above nice quote from John Stone that graces the Epilogue (page 396) reminds us, and we do need frequent reminding, that real genius, the dazzling genius that Tesla possessed, was bound to be misunderstood.
This book by W. Bernard Carlson, a science professor at Virginia University, is the latest welcome addition to the ever growing literature on Tesla. Published by Princeton University Press, it is an exceptional and balanced work. You can tell immediately from the generous index that the author has done all his homework. There was so much going on in Tesla's life that it is hard to strike the right balance by condensing it all into a book with just the right amount of pages. What do you include? What do you omit? I think Carlson has come the closest to achieving just the right mix.
As the author himself says in the Introduction:- "In writing about Tesla, one must navigate between unfair criticism and excessive enthusiasm." Yes, that is the ideal and the most sensible way to do it.
I am pleased that the author has gone into necessary technical details more than some others have done previously. Tesla differed from Einstein (a pure theorist) in that he was primarily an experimenter - par excellence. He did not share Einstein's views regarding General Relativity, for example. GR is a beautiful geometric construction but if Tesla objects to it then he at least deserves a hearing. Even if you do not share his views you will broaden your mind by attempting to refute them.
The book also features some photographs that I have not seen before. There is one for example (page 219) of Tesla's lab at East Houston Street where a very large spiral coil is visible at the back of the room.
The only slight quibble I have with this book's production is that the dust cover of my copy is a bit on the flimsy side. But this is a very minor point and nothing to to with the text itself.
I find this well written and thoughtful book provides a sense of perspective that is not always to be found in other works about Tesla. If I was asked to choose which of the many books on Tesla to recommend, I think I should choose this one. It is a pleasure to do so.