Tesla: Wizard at War: The Genius, the Particle Beam Weapon, and the Pursuit of Power

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Release Date: 
June 28, 2022
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“Tesla: Wizard at War tells of the process in which ideas—even if dismissed or of questionable credibility—develop.”

Nikola Tesla, who died on January 7, 1943, is the symbol of the amazing individual “whose name had disappeared from the mainstream” public memory. Not only had the inventor become forgotten but “Tesla’s name was stripped time and again from his accomplishments.”

Marc J. Seifer, in Tesla Wizard at War, points out that this great inventor’s “legacy was kept alive” by a history underground that began with John O’Neill’s 1946 biography. Tesla achieved a phenomenal number of scientific advancements. The viability of many of his ideas, however, such as electronic baths, wireless electric transmission, and his death ray prove controversial even to the present.

Various people associated Tesla’s tremendous real accomplishments with their thinking about ESP, parapsychology, UFOs, and unrealized technologies. The first chapter of Tesla: Wizard at War details how the author as a student entered that controversial area of academia, “no matter how much it strained one’s credulity.”

Seifer did his dissertation on the psychohistory of Tesla as a forgotten inventor and ten years later published a full biography of the Serbian pioneer in the once-upon-a-time magic that became the electrical sciences. Many people still believe that not all his alchemy has yet made the great journey from the supernatural to accepted facts, with all that we could learn along the way.

“Tesla was a great writer and an amazing predictor of the future.” In his own time, he was a celebrity who knew an astonishing number of important people in America.

Seifer found that looking at all the ways that this scientist’s achievements affect our modern world is challenging. Even more so, how this genius made his way uniquely through the Serbia of his time to later be the person at the right place that allowed his discoveries that changed the world.

The inventor was not a new Galileo, Leonardo, or Newton but the only Tesla. Seifer explores mysteries of this genius’ story such as the German espionage interest around his ideas, including his mysterious Packard, and the false news of the Nobel Prize.

“Tesla had a complex personality.” A compulsive gambler who grew up reading Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling, his relationships with Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse became the subject of books, legends, television episodes, and a world-class motion picture. His business failures, good humor, humanity, mental health, and spirituality are not so well-known.

Tesla Wizard at War chronicles the history of people who believed in the great inventor’s ideas but especially for an electronic death ray, at different times, from the viewpoints of the crackpots, the frightened, and the scientists. He boasted to the Russian government that his invention could destroy but also could provide a shield from incoming attack. Only a fraction of the book, however, deals with the death ray and Tesla’s pioneer work on weapons.

Other ideas like drones and wireless energy transmission are covered. The FAX machine, cell phone, and satellite communication have beginnings in the imagination of the Serbian immigrant. Tesla: Wizard at War tells of the process in which ideas—even if dismissed or of questionable credibility—develop.

Psychohistory and alternative interpretations of history are usually not accepted as legitimate scholarship. Seifer bravely looks at them with academic objectivity. These subjects are not always credible, but Tesla: Wizard at War has annotation.

This work looks at Tesla from the outside including, sometimes, in the writings of the numerous luminaries of the Gilded Age who often knew him as a celebrity. It can be a solid follow-up to a general biography of the inventor such as Seifer’s Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla.