Book: Wizard: The Life And Times Of Nikola Tesla

There are a number of Tesla biographies now available. I suspect I may have picked the wrong one. Much of it is serviceable and the bare facts of Tesla’s life and times, presented copiously and in rigid chronological order, are interesting enough to make up for a plodding style. There are, however, definite flaws. For some reason the author chose to highlight a platonic romance between Tesla and a married friend. The details are totally uninteresting and its dramatizations are painful to read. It is as if an editorial mistake had strewn random pages of a lukewarm romance novel into a Tesla biography. Every bit of it could have been left out and the result would have been an unmitigated improvement.

There are other problems. The author is a ‘psycho-historian’ and uses Freudian psychology and handwriting analysis to speculate on the motives of various subjects. I was not convinced. And the final chapters get well into conspiracy-theory territory in their speculations on what may have been done with Tesla’s work on “death rays” among other things.

Tesla is certainly worth reading about, but if you do I’d recommend passing on this one.

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