Edison Inventing the Century

“Neil Baldwin has demythologized the man and left the genius bigger than life.”

– David Gates, Newsweek

“Thomas Edison has been the subject of many earlier biographies, yet Mr. Baldwin sees more clearly than the rest how Edison’s life was his greatest invention.”

– G. Pascal Zachary, Wall Street Journal

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The genius of America’s most prolific inventor, Thomas Edison, is widely acknowledged, and Edison himself has become an almost mythic figure. But how much do we really know about the man who considered deriving rubber from a goldenrod plant as opposed to the mastermind who gave us electric light? In this fascinating biography, Neil Baldwin gives us a complex portrait of the inventor himself-both myth and man-and a multifaceted account of the intellectual climate of the country he worked in and irrevocably changed.

Invention, as an art, is unpredictable and intuitive. Thomas Edison was a pragmatic, authoritarian, and cranky businessman. He was also a moody, ruminative writer, equally at home on an abstract plane as seated at a workbench. Not all of his ideas automatically led to the production of utilitarian things. Not all of his inspired concepts found their way into the marketplace.

The drive to “make it new” sustained Thomas Edison into his ninth decade until he could no longer lift his head from the sickbed pillow – long beyond the time when he had reason to care about any vicissitudes of commercial success or failure.

In this respect, as a survivor, he remains larger than life; and, ultimately, like the subject of any biography, larger than its pages will embrace.

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