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Tesla: Man Out of Time

Tesla: Man Out of Time written by Margaret Cheney is the book under analysis. The book was originally written and introduced in 1981, and published in 2010. The book is a biographical story about the great inventor and the most important episodes of his life. This book is a successful attempt of Margaret Cheney to write a true story about Nicola Tesla and present him from a new side earlier unknown to the reader.

The book is written in an artistic style and, the process of reading such texts is more interesting than reading a dry sequence of life facts of the famous personality. In the process of reading this book, the reader gets to know not only about the achievements of the great genius, but also about some peculiarities of his internal state, his ideology and read the author’s thoughts about his character. The book starts with the introduction in which the author gives the background of the investigations about Tesla’s life by other writers and points out the reason of creating this book. The first biography was written by O’Neill, and there were later publications for young readers by such authors like Helen Walter and Arthur Beckhard (Cheney 16).

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Cheney mentions that all the previous biographic tries were based on the first book that was written about Tesla’s life by O’Neill, who tried to be closer to Tesla, but the latter was not very open to him with the information. Nikola Tesla was a person who kept his life very private and was not opened to people around him.

Margaret Cheney is a person who kept an idea of writing a book and investigating life of this outstanding scientist since her childhood. She mentions her willingness to touch to the history of this man and his creations. The book is a try to look through the metal cover that was hiding the inner world of the great scientist.

Cheney presents the scientist in her book with all his phobias and peculiarities, strange attitude to the world and to his surroundings. The author stresses upon the fact that she was the first one who considered having a look at Tesla’s life through the prism of his society. ‘Tesla’s society’ mean the people who were acquainted or somehow related to Tesla.

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The author uses the memoirs and letters that people wrote to the scientist or about him. She mentions a lot of research information that other scientists who were interested in Nikola Tesla’s life and Cheney used the information she managed to find. Her work has a lot of grounded information that she managed to take from the museum by Tesla in his home country. However, she states that she did not manage to reach the secret archives that contain information on the experiments because they are available to the certified specialists and scientists only.

The book depicts a story of scientist’s life starting from his early childhood till his death. According to the book, Nikola Tesla was a man of amazing and phenomenal, intellectual and physical abilities, he was able to pass through himself about 2 million volts, to make light bulbs to light brightly in his hands during the lectures and pass current for long distances.

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The book tells the story of a scientist and his struggle for survival. Apparently, what the world was that a genius in him had to survive it during his lifetime. Only after his death his great achievements became finally recognizable and evaluated in the scientific as well as in the rest of the world. People used to call Tesla a ‘Black Electrician’, accusing him of earthquakes, power interruptions and even in Tunguska meteorite’s falling (Cheney 87).

Nikola Tesla was fond of studying electricity and lightning. The book describes his interesting career, studying at the Higher Technical School. There the young man started his first applies of his unique talent of bright visualization. He could render the most difficult mathematical formulas falling into a trance and translate them into multidimensional images that easily lived and worked successfully in his imagination.

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One of the most interesting and remarkable cases of his biography, with which the scientist’s life was filled, is described in the given book. This was a moment when he gave a reason to gossip about himself as adept dark forces to the press and society (Cheney 76). The action took place in the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, where Tesla was giving lectures. Tesla made light bulbs shine brightly in his hands by creating a strong electromagnetic current, and was trying to prove safety of electricity by throwing the lightning into the hall full of students, with bare hands.

It is also mentioned that Tesla was a friend of Mark Twain, who was almost the only one close friend of him (Cheney 116). Tesla liked to be a showman as the book mentions, though through the period from 1903 till 1931 nobody heard about him. During this period of time, he was engaged in the creation of various inventions like radars, remote controls and other things. Tesla documented all his investigations and systematized all the results of his experimental work and laboratory conclusions.

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He wrote a lot of articles and scientific books. In his articles, Tesla described the possibility of teleportation, anti-gravity, and announced to the world that he has learned a way to get ball lightning stable, with the help of what it could be kept in a box, and produce ‘bundles of energy’. He had conflicts with Edison; he criticized Einstein’s relative theory. But he was a wonderful man, and this book tells in detail about his life from birth to death, not only describing his amazing discoveries, but also his fall, struggle, hard times, when he was literally begging for life.

Nikola Tesla died on January 7, 1943. His body was found by a maid, when she came to clean the room in a hotel where Tesla stayed (Cheney 265). She said that when she entered the room, Tesla was lying on the bed nicely dressed and motionless. Medics arrived, but the fact of scientist’s death was not recorded. The Tesla's body was taken away, as well as all of his diaries.

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There is a mystical belief that Cheney uses as a final sentence of her book is that Nikola Tesla did not die but went to another dimension, and the humanity will meet him again sometime later when the world will be ready for his immense genius and intellectual power.

The scientist considered not only a thorough investigation of nature’s powers; he provided a huge step forward in science.

Interest in his work is not quenched until now, his diaries are thoroughly and deeply studied, academic records are taken as a basis in many experiments and some of the experiment details, and results are secretly kept by federal agencies.

The book is very interesting, so it can be read in one breath. The book has a lot of black and white photographs that illustrate the personal life of a scientist, including some of his drawings and graphics. The book differs from an ordinary biography by the author’s personal conclusions and thoughts.

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Cheney managed to give not the technical side of inventor’s life but tried to see into his personality and show the inner world of him. The author added a lot of her own thoughts that is why it is not always possible to say whether it was a true fact or the author’s imagination. Though, it makes an interesting reading for the major part of the readers. Some of the critics mention that the book cannot serve as a reliable source of Tesla’s biography because the author slightly orients in the technical part of his life and depicts the physical and other processes with weak terminology and not clear scientific language knowledge.

However, the book was not written as a text book that has to be totally scientific without any deviations, but this is an artistically written biography of the great inventor containing a lot of archive material and information that is not available to the ordinary people.

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For those who prefer to read scientifically papers this book will be of a great interest as well as it has a strong background of research and investigation.

The book has a table of content where the events are placed in a logical sequence; however within some of the parts it is hard to follow the author’s mind as she makes the retrospective of the events sometimes. Though, in general the development of the events is mostly logical and makes a pleasant reading. The style of writing is publicistic with scientific touch. It is interesting and easily readable by high school students as well as older students like college, university and even by professors. Though, this book may be considered scientifically weak by the contemporary scientists from the technical point of view.











The book can be favorably compared to other books that were written on this topic. This is a perfect source for both the facts of the inventor’s life and the depiction of his life with the artistic touch what makes this book a thorough and detailed work on the life of this outstanding scientists. Besides, the author has lead her personal research and investigated a lot of archived documents as it was mentioned in her bibliographical essay and introduction what makes it a perfect try of unique research work lead in this sphere of scientific study.

The book has an acknowledgement where she mentions all those people who were helpful in the process of creating this book and expresses her gratefulness to them. The book has a long list of references, bibliographical essay and index part as well as postscript. In the postscript the author comments on the fact of her personal investigation about the missing papers and expresses her hope of meeting the genius of the great inventor later in this life.

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The book touches upon the character of the inventor and his little strangeness and phobias like his strong sense of clean and fear of germs. The book describes his experiments and hard work over his laboratorial investigations, theoretical work and other activities. Though he was a very mysterious personality these materials became known to the world with the help of several biographers and scientist’s papers and diaries. At the same time the very private life of the inventor was not mentioned at all.

The final assessment of this book is that it is a detailed analysis of Nikola Tesla’s life written with serious and trusted background information. It can be of great interest to the academics as well as to the students and even young readers. The book is a perfect source of inspiration for young inventors and scientists as well as for those who value the truth of clear experiment and have a sense of true friendship. This book can be recommended to be read by romantic people as well as by physics and inventors who start their career in the sphere of science.

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