Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention

Kobo eBook available

read instantly on your Kobo or tablet.

buy the ebook now

Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention

by Charlotte Gray

Skyhorse Publishing Inc. | July 21, 2011 | Trade Paperback

Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention is rated 5 out of 5 by 4.
The popular image of Alexander Graham Bell is that of an elderly American patriarch, memorable only for his paunch, his Santa Claus beard, and the invention of the telephone. In this magisterial reassessment based on thorough new research, acclaimed biographer Charlotte Gray reveals Bell''s wide-ranging passion for invention and delves into the private life that supported his genius. The child of a speech therapist and a deaf mother, and possessed of superbly acute hearing, Bell developed an early interest in sound. His understanding of how sound waves might relate to electrical waves enabled him to invent the talking telegraph before his rivals, even as he undertook a tempestuous courtship of the woman who would become his wife and mainstay. In an intensely competitive age, Bell seemed to shun fame and fortune. Yet many of his innovations electric heating, using light to transmit sound, electronic mail, composting toilets, the artificial lung were far ahead of their time. His pioneering ideas about sound, flight, genetics, and even the engineering of complex structures such as stadium roofs still resonate today. This is an essential portrait of an American giant whose innovations revolutionized the modern world.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 480 pages, 8.9 × 6 × 1.4 in

Published: July 21, 2011

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing Inc.

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1611450608

ISBN - 13: 9781611450606

Found in: Biography and Memoir

save 27%

  • Ships within 1-2 weeks

$14.40  ea

Online Price

$18.95 List Price

or, Used from $7.14

eGift this item

Give this item in the form of an eGift Card.

+ what is this?

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

All available formats:

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Warm Compassionate Biography Before reading this excellent book, I thought that I knew just about everything of importance about Alexander Graham Bell: that he invented the telephone, that his wife was deaf and that he was involved in some way with helping deaf people. I now know that this barely scratches the surface of Bell’s rich, passionate and inventive life. I had absolutely no idea that Bell was involved in so many scientific pursuits and inventions other than the telephone. As in most biographies, the author recounts her subject’s life from birth to death as well as a depiction of the times in which he lived. She puts much emphasis on Bell’s family, his wonderful partnership with his beloved wife, his amazingly inventive mind, his distinctive personality and the ups and downs in his remarkable life – both personal and professional. However, regarding his inventions, the author does describe them but without going into enough technical detail (and without appropriate diagrams) that would appeal to a technically-minded reader like me; nevertheless, one can still get a gist of how they worked. The author writes in a very friendly, warm, compassionate, accessible and engaging style. To me it is clear that for the author, researching and writing this wonderful book was a labour of love. I believe that absolutely anyone can enjoy this warm, captivating biography of a truly great, iconic individual.
Date published: 2013-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating Such a beautifully written book. I gained so much appreciation for the history behind this man, but it is written in such a way that you dont have to know any of the science to enjoy his life story. All in all, wonderful!
Date published: 2008-04-07
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius When I read Charlotte Gray's meticulously researched biography of Alexander Graham Bell's life, I became a time traveller able to share in the most intimate moments of his life. Once started, I could not put the book down as I journeyed through the excitement of an age of invention, to which A. G. Bell contributed much more than I ever realized. For me, the best part of this book are the insights into the motivation for his inventions, his passion, his life long desire to enrich the lives of the deaf and how much his wife contributed to his world-wide renown and success.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius I was blown away by this book. Charlotte Gray is an amazing author and brilliant story teller. I was at first surprised by the size of the book but as I approached the middle I found myself wishing it was twice as big. I'm sure my family and friends found it annoying how often I would say to them, "Did you know…” While I thought I was aware of his accomplishments, I was shocked by the number and variety discussed in this book. Ms. Gray provides her readers with a fly-on-the-wall view of his life, his relationships, his accomplishments and his disappointments. The way she speaks of Mabel brings to mind the adage, "Behind every great man, there is a great woman." This is a beautifully written, engaging and satisfying biography of a truly accomplished renaissance man. Awesome.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius Spellbinding. I got caught up in the life of the Bells. They had a synergy that produced magic. They complemented each other, protected each other and encouraged each other. It became clear that Alexander Graham Bell's achievements would have been impossible without Mabel's support and encouragement. Her family background and connections were vital to his success but they weren't what was important. I think the one constant in their lives that captured my attention is that they were confident in each other's love and support. He was erratic, to be sure, but once she got his attention he came through. She grew up as a deaf person in a hearing household. He grew up as a hearing person in a household where his mother was deaf. They were communicators.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius A brilliant portrayal of a boy who yearned to break away from a domineering father and a man who couldn't leave his family's obsessions behind. Bell picked up where his father left off in the exploration of language, sound and communication and expanded it to include acoustics, magnetics, and the early stages of fiber optics. His work for and with the hearing impaired (inspired by his mother and wife, both of whom were deaf) led to the invention of the telegraph and telephone, his most famous inventions, but far from his only achievements.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius Reluctant Genius was an excellent read. The flow of the work was smooth and not hard to follow. Ms. Gray did an excellent job in this book of opening up to the average Canadian the very private and personal life of 'one of our own'. I was unaware that Mr. Bell had so much on the go at the same time he was working on the telephone invention, or that his father-in-law was one of the first shareholders in a Glace Bay coal mine. This book is well worth the read, and it is an effortless job to do so! You will find that once you have started, you are nearly finished with out noticing the time that has passed. I highly recommend Reluctant Genius.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius An insightful look at an interesting man. It could just as easily have been "Mabel's Story" for she was a remarkable woman. A perfect example of "...behind every great man..." I loved how Charlotte Gray portrayed his feelings for Mabel, Cape Breton or indeed anything that took his interest. All through it I wished I could have been there to meet them and rejoice in their enthusiasm for the slightest "discovery". It was an exciting time to be alive.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius Once again, Charlotte Gray has created a gem. Before page 10 of “Reluctant Genius”, one is totally absorbed in the story (yes, it does feel like a novel). The wealth of detail about the life of Alexander Graham Bell is impressive, as are the descriptions of Edinburgh, London, Boston and Baddeck, to name but a few places. It is surprising that Alec Bell has not been more highly acclaimed – his passion for and dedication to his work, his futuristic ideas (e.g. “Correspondence between distant places will in future be carried on electrically instead of by mail.”) and his successes are not well known to the average person. Yes, he is the inventor of the telephone, but how many of us know of his extensive work with the deaf (which included Helen Keller), his “apparatus” used to detect bullets, his Silver Dart, and other numerous inventions? One must read the book to fully appreciate such an inquisitive mind. We should be grateful to Charlotte Gray for providing this opportunity to get to know such a fascinating man. Thoroughly enjoyable and most highly recommended.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius Having no knowledge of Charlotte Gray, I was pleasantly surprised in reading Reluctant Genius. Her story telling ability is very easy to get into, I found myself not wanting to put the book down. I enjoyed her clear background information, without getting confusing, but really helping to understand the personality behind the man. A great read!
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius An extraordinarily well-researched book, Reluctant Genius paints a captivating portrait of one of Canada's most celebrated inventors. Charlotte Gray expresses great passion for the subject of Alexander Graham Bell through her writing. I mean, just think: where would we be without the telephone? I'd highly recommend this biography for history buffs and Canada lovers.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius Reluctant Genius is an engrossing biography of an intriguing man. Charlotte Gray has done meticulous research, and she has a rare talent for finding the tiny but telling detail that will illuminate an entire scene. This thorough and extremely well-written account captured my attention from the very first chapter! Highly recommended.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius An excellent read. Before reading the book I had no idea the true genuis that Alex Bell was. Hearing more about his life made me truly appreciate all that he went through and achieved. I would recommend this book to anyone who takes 'modern' conveniences for granted.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius A well told biography of an interesting man.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius Charlotte Gray gives us a great history lesson while making an enjoyable read. She gives a in-depth portrayal of the passionate genius of Alexander Graham Bell.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius Charlotte Gray has written a riveting biography of one of the greatest men of the 19th century, Alexander Graham Bell. How often have you read a biography that was so interesting you hated to put it down? Gray writes biography like some write fiction! She deserves a place in the upper echelon of Canadian writers. Not only is this a fascinating biography of Bell, but also the story of Bell's marvelous wife, Mabel. She is the Ying to Bell's Yang. Where Bell was impetuous and driven, Mabel was grounded. During the many trials and unbelievable number of challenges to his copyright of the telephone (including a challenge from that oafish bore Thomas Edison), Bell might have given up if not for Mabel at his side. I hope this book gets the attention it deserves. It should be on the curriculum of every High School and University in North America. I expect to see it stay on the bestseller lists for many weeks! And well deserved! Charlotte, you have written a classic!! Thank you!!
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius Another fascinating book by Charlotte Gray. The thing I find really interesting about Reluctant Genius is the way the reader is allowed to understand Alex Bell in the context of what was going on both in his life and in the world around him. The reader is also given a sense of what was happening in the larger world at the time. Charlotte Gray makes it easy as a reader to really 'be' part of the environment of her subject. If you'd asked me about Alexander Graham Bell before I read this book, I would have known he was the inventor of the telephone. Now that I've read Reluctant Genius, I'm surprised that's all I knew about such an accomplished man. A thoroughly interesting and enjoyable read, about an interesting (and difficult) man!
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius This book is a fantastic read! Charlotte Gray's account of Alexander Graham Bell's life is wonderful. It allows the reader to see the man for what he was—a teacher, a father, a lover but most of a genius. It is truly a captivating book that is a celebration of a wonderful and interesting person who was the inventor of the telephone and much, much more.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius Loved it, loved it, loved it. It was a delight to read and I enjoyed every minute of it. Gray’s writing is clear, concise and accessible. It’s a joy to read. There’s so much about Alec that I don’t know. Most people know he invented the telephone. But what else did he do? In one word: everything. He’s interests were eclectic and his research spanned many disciplines. "His imagination, like his spirit, knew no bounds". A must read for biography lovers and, well, everyone who’s ever used a telephone.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius Charlotte Gray brings to life the side of this man that most know very little about. The telephone is such a small part of him, and she describes his life beautifully. This is a thoroughly engrossing read, and one that will fascinate you. You will never find a finer one written about him.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius Charlotte Gray has written a thoroughly enjoyable book which gives us great insight into the life of Alexander Graham Bell. It's an engrosing account of the inventor's trials and tribulations and his never-ending quest of contributing to the betterment of society. Here is a heartfelt biography of Alexander Graham Bell, his symbiotic relationship with his wife, Mabel and his social and family life. Although anticipated, the account of his death and that of his wife shortly thereafter was an emotional experience - it was as if the reader was intimately connected to his life. I very much enjoyed this book and would heartily recommend it to others.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius Being born and raised in Brantford this book was of interest to me. Many of the details in this book I knew were correct and made the store very enjoyable to read. This book could easily be added to the museum in Brantford for all to read.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius Surprisingly interesting! I found out that Bell was so much more than an inventor and this book brings him to life; not only as an inventor but as a person! If all historians were wrote in this interesting and personable manner there would be a lot more readers!
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated out of 5 by from Reluctant Genius Charlotte Gray portrayed Bell's humanity. Should be required reading in schools. Excellent research work.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Genius of Charlotte Gray Once again, Charlotte Gray has created a gem. Before page 10 of "Reluctant Genius", one is totally absorbed in the story (yes, it does feel like a novel). The wealth of detail about the life of Alexander Graham Bell is impressive, as are the descriptions of Edinburgh, London, Boston and Baddeck, to name but a few places. It is surprising that Alec Bell has not been more highly acclaimed - his passion for and dedication to his work, his futuristic ideas (e.g. "Correspondence between distant places will in future be carried on electrically instead of by mail.") and his successes are not as well known to the average person. Yes, he is the inventor of the telephone, but how many of us know of his extensive work with the deaf (which included Helen Keller), his "apparatus" used to detect bullets, his Silver Dart, and other numerous inventions? One must read the book to fully appreciate such an inquisitive mind. And of course, the devotion of his Mabel was instrumental in his success; a touching love story. We should be grateful to Charlotte Gray for providing this opportunity to get to know such a fascinating man. Thoroughly enjoyable and most highly recommended.
Date published: 2006-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Historical figure comes to life Charlotte Gray has written a thoroughly enjoyable book which gives us great insight into the life of Alexander Graham Gell. It's an engrossing account of the inventor's trials and tribulations and his never-ending quest of contributing to the betterment of society. Here is a heartfelt biography of Alex Bell, his symbiotic relationship with his wife, Mabel and his social and family life. Although anticipated, the account of his decline and death, and that of his wife shortly thereafter was an emotional experience as the reader becomes intimately connected to their lives. I very much enjoyed this book and would heartily recommend it to others.
Date published: 2006-07-26

– More About This Product –

Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention

by Charlotte Gray

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 480 pages, 8.9 × 6 × 1.4 in

Published: July 21, 2011

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing Inc.

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1611450608

ISBN - 13: 9781611450606

About the Book

"Splendid . . . Reluctant Genius is a winner."-Washington Times

From the Publisher

The popular image of Alexander Graham Bell is that of an elderly American patriarch, memorable only for his paunch, his Santa Claus beard, and the invention of the telephone. In this magisterial reassessment based on thorough new research, acclaimed biographer Charlotte Gray reveals Bell''s wide-ranging passion for invention and delves into the private life that supported his genius. The child of a speech therapist and a deaf mother, and possessed of superbly acute hearing, Bell developed an early interest in sound. His understanding of how sound waves might relate to electrical waves enabled him to invent the talking telegraph before his rivals, even as he undertook a tempestuous courtship of the woman who would become his wife and mainstay. In an intensely competitive age, Bell seemed to shun fame and fortune. Yet many of his innovations electric heating, using light to transmit sound, electronic mail, composting toilets, the artificial lung were far ahead of their time. His pioneering ideas about sound, flight, genetics, and even the engineering of complex structures such as stadium roofs still resonate today. This is an essential portrait of an American giant whose innovations revolutionized the modern world.

About the Author

Charlotte Gray, a historian, biographer, teacher, columnist, and radio and television commentator, is one of Canada''s best known and most highly respected writers. She has written five bestsellers and won numerous awards for her work. She lives in Ottawa, Canada.

Editorial Reviews

"Fascinating to read....Highly recommended."
Item not added

This item is not available to order at this time.

See used copies from 00.00
  • My Gift List
  • My Wish List
  • Shopping Cart