Tesla: Inventor of the Modern

Tesla: Inventor of the Modern

Nikola Tesla invented the radio, robots, and remote control. His electric induction motors run our appliances and factories, yet he has been largely overlooked by history. In Tesla, Richard Munson presents a comprehensive portrait of this farsighted and underappreciated mastermind.


When his first breakthrough—alternating current, the basis of the electric grid—pitted him against Thomas Edison’s direct-current empire, Tesla’s superior technology prevailed. Unfortunately, he had little business sense and could not capitalize on this success. His most advanced ideas went unrecognized for decades: forty years in the case of the radio patent, longer still for his ideas on laser beam technology. Although penniless during his later years, he never stopped imagining. In the early 1900s, he designed plans for cell phones, the Internet, death-ray weapons, and interstellar communications. His ideas have lived on to shape the modern economy.


Who was this genius? Drawing on letters, technical notebooks, and other primary sources, Munson pieces together the magnificently bizarre personal life and mental habits of the enigmatic inventor. Born during a lightning storm at midnight, Tesla died alone in a New York City hotel. He was an acute germaphobe who never shook hands and required nine napkins when he sat down to dinner. Strikingly handsome and impeccably dressed, he spoke eight languages and could recite entire books from memory. Yet Tesla’s most famous inventions were not the product of fastidiousness or linear thought but of a mind fueled by both the humanities and sciences: he conceived the induction motor while walking through a park and reciting Goethe’s Faust.


Tesla worked tirelessly to offer electric power to the world, to introduce automatons that would reduce life’s drudgery, and to develop machines that might one day abolish war. His story is a reminder that technology can transcend the marketplace and that profit is not the only motivation for invention. This clear, authoritative, and highly readable biography takes account of all phases of Tesla’s remarkable life.

Title:Tesla: Inventor of the Modern
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780393635447
Format Type:

About Richard Munson

Dick Munson is the author of "Tesla: Inventor of the Modern," a biography of the under-appreciate genius who brought us the electric motor, radio, robots, and remote control. He also wrote "From Edison to Enron," a history of the electricity industry; "The Cardinals of Capitol Hill," a behind-the-scenes look at congressional appropriators; and "Cousteau: The Captain and His World," a biography of


    Tesla: Inventor of the Modern Reviews

  • Nancy

    4.5Nikola Tesla has become a Culture Icon known more for his reputation as a kind of magician and rogue inventor, thanks to the movie The Prestige, and as a visionary, his name recognized because of T...

  • Valerie

    I have been wanting to read a biography of Tesla for a while, so I checked this one out of the library. I admired the author's evenhandedness. He lauded Tesla's inventiveness, while shying away from t...

  • Herbert Cole

    Great biography of an extraordinary inventor. This book explains Tesla's achievements but also describes his upbringing and relationships. Well researched and written. ...

  • Amy Albertson

    Fascinating character. Engaging biography. Well written Insightful stories. ...

  • Elliott Pierce

    What a treat! Finally a readable, enjoyable, and insightful book about Nikola Tesla, the great inventor who usually doesn't obtain the respect he deserves. Munson offers a fast-paced and fluid portrai...

  • Kimberly W

    The best biography of Tesla I've read, second only to Tesla's autobiography....

  • Malcolm Rogers

    At last a book that does Nikola Tesla justice. Munson doesn't suggest Tesla was a superman, even if his inventions were super; he also doesn't focus on the scientist's quirks, even though they impact ...

  • Susan Collins

    Tesla? More people know about the car than the man. Richard Munson does a great job correcting this mistake since the man's life is fascinating and his inventions -- including electric motors and robo...

  • Robert Altenburg

    You hear so much about Tesla. Without a doubt he is one of the most fascinating characters of the late 19th and early 20th century, but at this point it can be hard to separate the myth from the reali...

  • Greg Anderson

    I've long yearned for Tesla information. Biographies to date, however, have been a bit technical and dry ... until now. Richard Munson brings this remarkable inventor to life. Tesla is such an importa...