Intensive research renders this technological history fascinating even to readers with Luddite tendencies. (14 b&w...

THE BOY GENIUS AND THE MOGUL

THE UNTOLD STORY OF TELEVISION

The history of the early 20th-century race between independent young inventor Philo T. Farnsworth and industrialist David Sarnoff to develop and market a functional television system.

A mystery author and Edgar Award–winning biographer of Arthur Conan Doyle (Teller of Tales, 1999), Stashower unearths unexpected human drama from the frantic early days of radio and TV experimentation. He introduces 14-year-old Farnsworth as a scientific prodigy, fascinated by radio and trapped on his family’s Utah farm, who eagerly devoured popular technical journals in an attempt to make up for his lack of formal education. Farnsworth, Stashower argues, saw himself as a 20th-century heir of Thomas Edison’s independence, doggedly refusing to sell the patent rights to the image-replicating system that would eventually take TV to the masses. His main competition was David Sarnoff, the tempestuous head of RCA who built a technological and entertainment empire by buying control of radio-component patents. Stashower traces Sarnoff’s visionary ability to imagine TV’s future potential and in the midst of the Great Depression commit vast resources to its laboratory development. Sarnoff, the author maintains, used his resources to keep Farnsworth tied up in patent court while his research teams scrambled to develop a TV design that could be patented separately. Stashower poignantly reveals Farnsworth’s mental and physical deterioration as he desperately fought off Sarnoff’s corporate and legal attacks. These valiant struggles landed Farnsworth in relative obscurity, where he found solace in fantastic speculations about fusion energy and the knowledge that, despite his business failings, his singular genius revolutionized modern communication.

Intensive research renders this technological history fascinating even to readers with Luddite tendencies. (14 b&w photos and illustrations)

Pub Date: April 9, 2002

ISBN: 0-7679-0759-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more