Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention

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Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., Aug 1, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 480 pages
3 Reviews
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” be- fore 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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User Review  - jrcovey - LibraryThing

I first encountered this book in the gift shop of the AGB national historic site in Baddeck, and had finished reading it within 24 hours. I can't imagine a more lively and readable account of the life ... Read full review

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User Review  - LynnB - LibraryThing

At the end of the book, the author says she set out to write a biography not just about Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor, but about the man and his family life. She certainly accomplished her goal ... Read full review

Contents

CIRCUITS AND CONNECTIONS 18471876
The Great White Plague 18471870
The Backwoods of Canada 1870
Boston Bound 18711874
A Brahmin Childhood 18571873
Good Vibrations 18731875
The Fateful Twang 1875
Nantucket Passion 1875
Litigation Battles 18781880
Sad Losses Failed Hopes 18801885
Atlantic Adventures 18851887
A Shifting Balance 18871889
Helen Keller and the Politics of Deafness1886
MONSTER KITES AND FLYING MACHINES 18891923
Escape to Cape Breton 18891895
The Legacies of Alexander Graham Bell

Patent No 174465 18751876
THE STRUGGLE FOR BALANCE 18761889
Ring for the Future 18761877
London Life 18771878
Patents Issued by the U S Patent Office
MAPS
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About the author (2011)

Editor, journalist, and broadcaster Charlotte Gray was born in Sheffield, U.K. on January 3, 1948. She earned her M.A. from Oxford University and her honorary doctorate from Mount St. Vincent University in Nova Scotia. She moved to Canada in 1979. Gray is a contributing editor to Saturday Night Magazine, and a frequent commentator on the CBC and CTV. She is a regular contributor to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Chatelaine, and Elm Street magazine. Her book Mrs. King: The Life & Times of Isabel Mackenzie King won the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction and Canadian Authors' /Birks Foundation Award for Biography. Another of her books, Sisters in the Wilderness: The Lives of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Trail won the Canadian Booksellers Award for Non-fiction.

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