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Thomas Edison: Shining a Light

By David Boyle

Thomas Edison is a detailed and insightful account of the life and times of one of the greatest minds in American history, and suggests the unique ways in which Edison managed to accomplish one of the most coveted attainments in our human lives: originality.

What was it about Edison’s life and character that shaped him into one of the world’s most prolific inventors, and father of the phonograph, motion picture camera and electric lightbulb, to name a few of his greatest achievements? In this biography, David Boyle gives a revealing portrait of Edison’s life and temperament, and the events of the time that fostered his remarkable feats.

Edison was, from childhood, a business mind and opportunist, having conducted a newspaper-selling business on the local railway as a boy. He applied this entrepreneurial instinct later in life, to the competitive business of patenting inventions and staying ahead of his fellow inventors. This enterprising predisposition was just one of the components to Edison’s remarkable genius.

The inspiration that literally lit up the world was born, in part, out of Edison’s methodical approach to problem-solving, and relentless questioning. He realized it was not sufficient to observe that a method hadn’t worked; the valuable question was why? By quantifying his successes and failures, and constantly revisiting failures until they were resolved, Edison stayed ahead of the innovation game.

It was his dogged determination to discover solutions that affected Edison’s marriage and home life, as his commitment to work was all too often at the expense of the familial kind. Boyle sheds light on why Edison was often seen as a difficult man, by his dejected first wife Mary Stilwell, his colleagues and competitors.

Lesser known about Edison are his revolutionary ideas on the economy, and his condemnation of debt-based money and the subsequent interest rates incurred. Boyle reveals Edison’s proposals for economic reform; all the more poignant when reading in our age of national debt and failed money lending.

About the author…

David Boyle is a British author and journalist who writes mainly about history and new ideas in economics, money, business and culture. He lives in Crystal Palace, London. His books include Unheard Unseen: Warfare in the DardanellesTowards the Setting Sun: The Race for America and The Age to Come.

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