Lightning in His Hand: The Life Story of Nikola Tesla

Material Information

Lightning in His Hand: The Life Story of Nikola Tesla
Series Title:
Lightning in His Hand: The Life Story of Nikola Tesla
Ruskin, Steve
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
Publication Date:

Record Information

Source Institution:
Auraria Library
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text


Lightning in His Hand: The Life Story of Nikola Tesla | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 12:41:38 PM] Home Lightning in His Hand: The Life Story of Nikola TeslaLightning in His Hand: The Life Story of Nikola TeslaSubmitted by jainlayconley on 8-27-2010 01:41 PMAuthor: Inez Hunt and Wanetta W. Draper Publishing: Colorado Springs, CO: Pikes Peak Library District, 2010. 2nd ed. Originally published by Sage Books, 1964. Black and white photos, index, bibliography. 285 pages. 5 x 8. $19.95 paperback. Reviewer: Steve Ruskin This biography of Nikola Tesla is a reprint of the Inez Hunt and Wanetta W. Draper original, first published in 1964 by Denvers Sage Books. It has been re-typeset, reindexed, contains a new foreword, and, perhaps most significantly, is supplemented with new photographs courtesy of the Library of Congress and the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia (the latter of which was a partner in the publication). Additionally, this reprint serves to highlight the important work being done by the Pikes Peak Library District to preserve the history of the Pikes Peak region. Along with their annual Regional History Symposia, such publications as this reprint of Lightning in His Hand provide a fine example of how local and regional organizations across the state are actively promoting the history of Colorado. Even the splashy cover was designed by an archivist of the Pikes Peak Library. And it is worth noting that Inez Hunts own research materials for this book (and many of her other publications) are stored in the special collections of the Pikes Peak Library District. Lightning in His Hand is a complete biography of Tesla's life, from his birth in Croatia in 1856 to his death in New York in 1943. Very little of Teslas life was spent in Colorado, but Hunt and Draper make his time here the crux of their story. After an auspicious early life in Europe, Tesla came to America. He worked for a time with Thomas Edison, but their paths diverged after Edison denied Tesla a promised fifty thousand dollars for his labors. Stunned at this infidelity, Tesla joined with Edison's rival George Westinghouse in the battle of the currents, pitting Edison and his advocacy of direct current against Westinghouse, Tesla, and their work on alternating current. The winner would determine which flavor of electricity powered America. Well before Tesla came to Colorado Springs, this battle was waged on one important front in Colorado. Westinghouse (using Teslas patents) built an alternating current plant to provide power to Tellurides Gold King Mine in 1891. It was an early victory for alternating current, and by association, Teslas genius. His fame grew over the next decade, and by the end of the century Tesla desired a lab of his own in which to conduct more advanced electrical experiments. In 1899 he was offered a chance to come to Colorado Springs, where he was promised all the electricity you need free from the Colorado Springs Electric Company (105). He jumped at the chance and built a laboratory on the plains just east of town. In a matter of months, Teslas experiments convinced him that EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanWithin Colorado boundaries are lands once claimed by Spanish kings and Mexican governors.


Lightning in His Hand: The Life Story of Nikola Tesla | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 12:41:38 PM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us he could harness electricity in such a way that he would be able to transmit power wirelessly (and even enable wireless communication) between any two points on the planet. But his lab used tremendous amounts of power; in one of his final experiments he drew so much current he blew the generator of the Colorado Springs Power Company, plunging the small city into darkness and ending his access to free power. After less than nine months in Colorado, Tesla returned to New York. Following his time in Colorado Springs Teslas career began a slow but steady downward spiral. As his theories became more and more grandiose, so did the cost of the equipment needed to test them. He envisioned a New York laboratory several orders of magnitude greater than what he had in Colorado Springs, and he naively believed someone would simply step in and hand him an endless supply of cash to support it. John Pierpont Morgan initially gave him one hundred and fifty thousand dollars to begin work in exchange for 51 percent of his patents. Tesla soon burned through the money and was reduced to tearfully begging for more, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Tesla lost the majority stake in his work, and at the onset of World War I the unfinished lab was torn down because locals feared it would be used as a broadcasting station by German spies. Hunt and Draper portray Tesla as a tragic scientific genius whose visions were so far beyond the ken of the rest of humanity that he was fated to a life of otherworldly solitude. Although his genus is certain, his status as a victim of being a man out of time (as he has been described) is less so. On the contrary, much of his work was clearly understood and utilized by his contemporaries. His failure, as Hunt and Draper reluctantly acknowledge (but never directly fault Tesla with) is that he was too trusting, too naive, and, frankly, too unconcerned with the profit-oriented aspects of industry to ensure his own experimental livelihood. In the end, of course, Tesla has not been forgotten. His time in Colorado was one of the highlights of his life. At the foot of Pikes Peak he was free to experiment in his own laboratory, taming forces no one else could harness. It is not unreasonable to say that with few exceptions, his time in Colorado Springs represented the apex of Tesla's career. For purchasing info contact that library district in Colorado Springs or Clausen Books in Colorado Springs: 719-471-5884 or Reviewer Info: Steve Ruskin is a native of Colorado Springs. He received his PhD in history and philosophy of science from the University of Notre Dame and has taught history at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Colorado Technical University. Add new comment