Empires of Light

Empires of Light

Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World

Book - 2003
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In the final decades of the nineteenth century, three brilliant and visionary titans of America's Gilded Age--Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse--battled bitterly as each vied to create a vast and powerful electrical empire. InEmpires of Light, historian Jill Jonnes portrays this extraordinary trio and their riveting and ruthless world of cutting-edge science, invention, intrigue, money, death, and hard-eyed Wall Street millionaires. At the heart of the story are Thomas Alva Edison, the nation's most famous and folksy inventor, creator of the incandescent light bulb and mastermind of the world's first direct current electrical light networks; the Serbian wizard of invention Nikola Tesla, elegant, highly eccentric, a dreamer who revolutionized the generation and delivery of electricity; and the charismatic George Westinghouse, Pittsburgh inventor and tough corporate entrepreneur, an industrial idealist who in the era of gaslight imagined a world powered by cheap and plentiful electricity and worked heart and soul to create it. Edison struggled to introduce his radical new direct current (DC) technology into the hurly-burly of New York City as Tesla and Westinghouse challenged his dominance with their alternating current (AC), thus setting the stage for one of the eeriest feuds in American corporate history, the War of the Electric Currents. The battlegrounds: Wall Street, the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, Niagara Falls, and, finally, the death chamber--Jonnes takes us on the tense walk down a prison hallway and into the sunlit room where William Kemmler, convicted ax murderer, became the first man to die in the electric chair. Empires of Lightis the gripping history of electricity, the "mysterious fluid," and how the fateful collision of Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse left the world utterly transformed.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2003.
ISBN: 9780375507397
0375507396
Branch Call Number: 621.309 JONNES
Characteristics: xiv, 416 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm.

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StarGladiator
Jul 07, 2013

[Update: A connection between President Donald Trump and Nikola Tesla? Absurd you say? After the death of Tesla, the US gov't rushed in and confiscated all his personal papers, which they then handed over to a professor of engineering with MIT, named John G. Trump, uncle of the future president of the USA! Wonder if those still classified papers included his Death Ray??? Remember the Tunguska Event?]
[A great short site which sums up the Real Tesla and the Real Edison: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla ] A must read for anyone wishing to fully grasp how Tesla [and Westinghouse] was responsible for the national power grid, or affordable electricity. Had Tesla not voluntarily given up his outrageously valuable patents to George Westinghouse, the existence of the national power grid might not have come about. [You will learn, if you are uninformed about this, how Tesla was cheated by Edison, how Edison treated his workers, and how Edison attempted to cheat the nation with his DC current for a grid. After reading this, you may wish to research the peculiar relationship between Thomas Edison and a drunkard patent clerk of the US Patent Office, Zenas Wilbur Fink. History is seldom what we've been taught!]

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StarGladiator
Dec 30, 2012

One of the all time best books on the history of technology, specifically dealing with the genius of Tesla and the systems engineering talents of George Westinghouse, in the invention and development of America's (and the rest of the world's) power grid. Ms. Jonnes is most certainly one of this era's greatest historians with regard to the history of technology, and her depiction in a most respectful manner of the genius of Nikola Tesla, a rare thing indeed in writings on that great man of science. Also covers Edison, and some may be surprised, if not intimately familiar with Edison's employee relations, with his treatment of workers, etc. A most elucidating work of history!

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