The world remembers Edison, Ford, and the Wright Brothers. But what about Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television, an innovation that did as much as any other to shape the twentieth century? That question lies at the heart of "The Boy Genius and the Mogul," Daniel Stashower's captivating chronicle of television's true inventor, the battle he faced to capitalize on his breakthrough, and the powerful forces that resulted in the collapse of his dreams.
The son of a Mormon farmer, Farnsworth was born in 1906 in a single-room log cabin on an isolated homestead in Utah. The Farnsworth family farm had no radio, no telephone, and no electricity. Yet, motivated by the stories of scientists and inventors he read about in the science magazines of the day, young Philo set his sights on becoming an inventor. By his early teens, Farnsworth had become an inveterate tinkerer, able to repair broken farm equipment when no one else could. It was inevitable that when he read an article about a new idea -- for the transmission of pictures by radio waves--that he would want to attempt it himself. One day while he was walking through a hay field, Farnsworth took note of the straight, parallel lines of the furrows and envisioned a system of scanning a visual image line by line and transmitting it to a remote screen. He soon sketched a diagram for an early television camera tube. It was 1921 and Farnsworth was only fourteen years old.
Farnsworth went on to college to pursue his studies of electrical engineering but was forced to quit after two years due to the death of his father. Even so, he soon managed to persuade a group of California investors to set him up in his own research lab where, in 1927, he produced the first all-electronic television image and later patented his invention. While Farnsworth's invention was a landmark, it was also the beginning of a struggle against an immense corporate power that would consume much of his life. That corporate power was embodied by a legendary media mogul, RCA President and NBC founder David Sarnoff, who claimed that his chief scientist had invented a mechanism for television prior to Farnsworth's. Thus the boy genius and the mogul were locked in a confrontation over who would control the future of television technology and the vast fortune it represented. Farnsworth was enormously outmatched by the media baron and his army of lawyers and public relations people, and, by the 1940s, Farnsworth would be virtually forgotten as television's actual inventor, while Sarnoff and his chief scientist would receive the credit.
Restoring Farnsworth to his rightful place in history, "The Boy Genius and the Mogul" presents a vivid portrait of a self-taught scientist whose brilliance allowed him to "capture light in a bottle." A rich and dramatic story of one man's perseverance and the remarkable events leading up to the launch of television as we know it, "The Boy Genius and the Mogul "shines new light on a major turning point in American history.
Anthony Summers' biography of Richard Nixon reveals a troubled figure whose criminal behavior did not begin with Watergate. Drawing on more than a thousand interviews and five years of research, Summers reveals a man driven by an addiction to intrigue and power, whose subversion of democracy during Watergate was the culmination of years of cynical political manipulation. New evidence suggests the former president had problems with alcohol and prescription drugs, was at times mentally unstable, and was abusive to his wife Pat. Summers discloses previously unrevealed facts about Nixon's role in the plots to topple Fidel Castro and Salvador Allende, his sabotage of the Vietnam peace talks in 1968, and his acceptance of funds from dubious sources. The Arrogance of Power shows how the actions of one tormented man influenced fifty years of American history, in ways still reverberating today.
Winner of the 2005 Francis Parkman Prize A century ago, U.S. policy aimed to sever the tribal allegiances of Native Americans, limit their ancient liberties, and coercively prepare them for citizenship. At the same time millions of arriving immigrants sought their freedom by means of that same citizenship. In this subtle, eye-opening new work, Alan Trachtenberg argues that the two developments were, inevitably, juxtaposed: Indians and immigrants together preoccupied the public imagination, and together changed the idea of what it meant to be American.
To begin with, programs of "Americanization" were organized for both groups, yet Indians were at the same time celebrated as noble "First Americans" and role models. Trachtenberg traces the peculiar effect of this implicit contradiction, with Indians themselves staging "The Song of Hiawatha" (which was also translated into Yiddish); Edward Curtis's poignant photographs memorializing vanishing heroism; and the Wanamaker department store making a fortune from commercialized versions of their once reviled cultures. By 1925 the national narrative had been rewritten, and citizenship was granted to Indians as a birthright, while the National Origins Act began to close the door on immigrants.
"In Shades of Hiawatha," Trachtenberg eloquently suggests that we must re-create America's tribal creation story in new ways if we are to reaffirm its beckoning promise of universal liberty.
An American epic of science, politics, race, honor, high society, and the Mississippi River, Rising Tide tells the riveting and nearly forgotten story of the greatest natural disaster this country has ever known -- the Mississippi flood of 1927. The river inundated the homes of nearly one million people, helped elect Huey Long governor and made Herbert Hoover president, drove hundreds of thousands of blacks north, and transformed American society and politics forever.
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award and the Lillian Smith Award.
Between 1929 and 1945, two great travails were visited upon the American people: the Great Depression and World War II. This book tells the story of how Americans endured, and eventually prevailed, in the face of those unprecedented calamities.The Depression was both a disaster and an opportunity. As David Kennedy vividly demonstrates, the economic crisis of the 1930s was far more than a simple reaction to the alleged excesses of the 1920s. For more than a century before 1929, America's unbridled industrial revolution had gyrated through repeated boom and bust cycles, wastefully consuming capital and inflicting untold misery on city and countryside alike. Freedom From Fear explores how the nation agonized over its role in World War II, how it fought the war, why the United States won, and why the consequences of victory were sometimes sweet, sometimes ironic. In a compelling narrative, Kennedy analyzes the determinants of American strategy, the painful choices faced by commanders and statesmen, and the agonies inflicted on the millions of ordinary Americans who were compelled to swallow their fears and face battle as best they could. Both comprehensive and colorful, this account of the most convulsive period in American history, excepting only the Civil War, reveals a period that formed the crucible in which modern America was formed. The Oxford History of the United States The Atlantic Monthly has praised The Oxford History of the United States as the most distinguished series in American historical scholarship, a series that synthesizes a generation's worth of historical inquiry and knowledge into one literally state-of-the-art book. Who touches these books touches a profession.
Conceived under the general editorship of one of the leading American historians of our time, C. Vann Woodward, The Oxford History of the United States blends social, political, economic, cultural, diplomatic, and military history into coherent and vividly written narrative. Previous volumes are Robert Middlekauff's The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution; James M. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (which won a Pulitzer Prize and was a New York Times Best Seller); and James T. Patterson's Grand Expectations: The United States 1945-1974 (which won a Bancroft Prize).
According to newspaper headlines and television pundits, the cold war ended many months ago; the age of Big Two confrontation is over. But forty years ago, Americans were experiencing the beginnings of another era--of the fevered anti-communism that came to be known as McCarthyism. During this period, the Cincinnati Reds felt compelled to rename themselves briefly the Redlegs to avoid confusion with the other reds, and one citizen in Indiana campaigned to have The Adventures of Robin Hood removed from library shelves because the story's subversive message encouraged robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. These developments grew out of a far-reaching anxiety over communism that characterized the McCarthy Era.Richard Fried's Nightmare in Red offers a riveting and comprehensive account of this crucial time. He traces the second Red Scare's antecedents back to the 1930s, and presents an engaging narrative about the many different people who became involved in the drama of the anti-communist fervor, from the New Deal era and World War II, through the early years of the cold war, to the peak of McCarthyism, and beyond McCarthy's censure to the decline of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the 1960s. Along the way, we meet the familiar figures of the period--Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower, the young Richard Nixon, and, of course, the Wisconsin Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. But more importantly, Fried reveals the wholesale effect of McCarthyism on the lives of thousands of ordinary people, from teachers and lawyers to college students, factory workers, and janitors. Together with coverage of such famous incidents as the ordeal of the Hollywood Ten (which led to the entertainment world's notorious blacklist) and the Alger Hiss case, Fried also portrays a wealth of little-known but telling episodes involving victims and victimizers of anti-communist politics at the state and local levels. Providing the most complete history of the rise and fall of the phenomenon known as McCarthyism, Nightmare in Red shows that it involved far more than just Joe McCarthy.
"They came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to build modern America -- men and women whose everyday lives of duty, honor, achievement, and courage gave us the world we have today."
In this magnificent testament to a nation and her people, Tom Brokaw brings to life the extraordinary stories of a generation that gave new meaning to courage, sacrifice, honor.
From military heroes to community leaders to ordinary Americans, he profiles men and women who served their country with valor, then came home and transformed America: Senator Daniel Inouye, decorated at the front, fighting prejudice at home; Martha Putney, one of the first black women to serve in the newly formed WACs; Charles Van Gorder, a doctor who set up a MASH-like medical facility in the middle of battle, then came home to open a small clinic in his hometown; Navy pilot George Bush, assigned to read the mail of the enlisted men under him, who says that in doing so "I learned about life." And there are more, all seasoned by a time of tragedy and triumph.
To this generation who gave so much and asked so little, Brokaw offers eloquent tribute in true stories of everyday heroes in extraordinary times.