Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention

Paperback | July 21, 2011

byCharlotte Gray

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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.

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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 ...

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.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 8.9 × 6 × 1.4 inPublished:July 21, 2011Publisher:Skyhorse Publishing Inc.Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1611450608

ISBN - 13:9781611450606

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Customer Reviews of Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention

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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

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Editorial Reviews

"Fascinating to read....Highly recommended."