The facts are all there. The arrangement is well-balanced, well-paced. The man seems three dimensional. And yet, I kept wondering as I read it, ""who cares?"" -- Perhaps, because no one could make a sympathetic character out of this irascible, ego-centric genius, who invented the steam boat, long before the Clermont won fame for Robert Fulton. He was eager for learning -- pulled himself up by his own bootstraps -- became apprenticed to a watch-maker, and after he had had enough of his family, moved out and made a meager living as an itinerant watch maker, odd job man, mechanical crank. Then, against terrific odds, he climbed slowly to a position of confidence -- built and launched his boat -- and saw the credit go in other directions. The story of a failure -- and Boyd has rescued him from oblivion and written his definitive biography.