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The Inventor and the Tycoon

A Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures

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Hardcover published by Doubleday (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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From the National Book Award-winning author of Slaves in the Family, a riveting true life / true crime narrative of the partnership between the murderer who invented the movies and the robber baron who built the railroads.
 
One hundred and thirty years ago Eadweard Muybridge invented stop-motion photography, anticipating and making possible motion pictures. He was the first to capture time and play it back for an audience, giving birth to visual media and screen entertainments of all kinds. Yet the artist and inventor Muybridge was also a murderer who killed coolly and meticulously, and his trial is one of the early instances of a media sensation. His patron was railroad tycoon (and former California governor) Leland Stanford, whose particular obsession was whether four hooves of a running horse ever left the ground at once. Stanford hired Muybridge and his camera to answer that question. And between them, the murderer and the railroad mogul launched the age of visual media.
   
Set in California during its frontier decades, The Tycoon and the Inventor interweaves Muybridge's quest to unlock the secrets of motion through photography, an obsessive murder plot, and the peculiar partnership of an eccentric inventor and a driven entrepreneur. A tale from the great American West, this popular history unspools a story of passion, wealth, and sinister ingenuity.

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From the National Book Award-winning author of Slaves in the Family, a riveting true life / true crime narrative of the partnership between the murderer who invented the movies and the robber baron who built the railroads.
 
One hundred and thirty years ago Eadweard Muybridge invented stop-motion photography, anticipating and making possible motion pictures. He was the first to capture time and play it back for an audience, giving birth to visual media and screen entertainments of all kinds. Yet the artist and inventor Muybridge was also a murderer who killed coolly and meticulously, and his trial is one of the early instances of a media sensation. His patron was railroad tycoon (and former California governor) Leland Stanford, whose particular obsession was whether four hooves of a running horse ever left the ground at once. Stanford hired Muybridge and his camera to answer that question. And between them, the murderer and the railroad mogul launched the age of visual media.
   
Set in California during its frontier decades, The Tycoon and the Inventor interweaves Muybridge's quest to unlock the secrets of motion through photography, an obsessive murder plot, and the peculiar partnership of an eccentric inventor and a driven entrepreneur. A tale from the great American West, this popular history unspools a story of passion, wealth, and sinister ingenuity.

Product Details
Hardcover (464 pages)
Published: January 22, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Doubleday
ISBN: 9780385525756
Other books byEdward Ball
  • Slaves in the Family

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    Fifteen years after its hardcover debut, the FSG Classics reissue of the celebrated work of narrative nonfiction that won the National Book Award and changed the American conversation about race, with a new introduction by the author The Ball family hails from South Carolina—Charleston and thereabouts. Their rice plantations were among the oldest and longest-standing plantations in the American South. Between 1698 and 1865, close to four thousand black people were born into slavery to the Balls or were bought by them. In Slaves in the Family, Edward Ball recounts his effort to track down and meet the descendants of his family’s slaves. Part historical narrative, part oral history, part personal story of investigation and catharsis, Slaves in the Family is, in the words of Pat Conroy, “a work of breathtaking generosity and courage, a magnificent study of the complexity and strangeness and beauty of the word ‘family.’”

    Peninsula of Lies

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    Peninsula of Lies is a nonfiction mystery, set in haunting locales and peopled with fascinating characters, that unwraps the enigma of a woman named Dawn Langley Simmons, a British writer who lived in Charleston, South Carolina, during the 1960s and became the focus of one of the most unusual sexual scandals of the last century. Born in England sometime before World War II, Dawn Langley Simmons began life as a boy named Gordon Langley Hall. Gordon was the son of servants at Sissinghurst Castle, the estate of Vita Sackville-West, where as a child he met Vita's lover Virginia Woolf. In his twenties, Gordon made his way to New York, where he became an author of society biographies and befriended such grandes dames as the actress Margaret Rutherford and the artist and heiress Isabel Whitney, who left him a small fortune. The money allowed Gordon to buy a mansion in Charleston and fill it with period furniture, providing a stage for him to entertain more great ladies and to climb the social ladder of the Southern gentry to its heights. However, Gordon's world changed instantly in 1968, when at The Johns Hopkins Hospital he underwent one of the first sex-reassignment surgeries, returning to Southern society and scandalizing Charleston as the new Dawn Langley Hall. Dawn Hall furthermore announced that her surgery had been corrective, because she'd actually been misidentified as a boy at birth. Three months later, Dawn raised the stakes in still-segregated Charleston when she arranged her very public marriage to a young black mechanic, John-Paul Simmons. In due course, Dawn appeared around town pregnant; finally, she could be seen pushing a baby carriage with a child -- her daughter, Natasha. National Book Award-winning author Edward Ball (Slaves in the Family) has written a detective story that deciphers the riddle of Dawn Simmons, a once rich and infamous changeling who died in 2000, her sexual identity never determined. Peninsula of Lies is an engrossing narrative of a person who tested every taboo, as well as the confidence of observers in their own eyes.

    In Search of True Wisdom

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    The distinguished authors whose essays appear in this volume (marking the seventieth birthday of Ronald Clements,who until his retirement, was the Samuel Davidson Professor of Old Testament Studies, King's College London) include John Barton, Walter Brueggemann, Brevard Childs, John Rogerson, Rolf Rendtorff, Hugh Williamson, the late Norman Whybray, Graeme Auld, Richard Coggins. The theme of the volume reflects Clements's recent interest in 'wisdom' as an interpretative framework, and the essays address the role of theology and hermeneutics in biblical exegesis, through an examination of methods and approaches as well as by application to specific Old Testament writings. While the volume ranges through issues of canon, biblical theology and literary criticism, with several essays on the prophetic books, it maintains a clear focus on the numerous issues and challenges facing the contemporary interpreter of the scriptures.

    The Sweet Hell Inside

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    From National Book Award winner Edward Ball comes The Sweet Hell Inside, the story of the fascinating Harleston family of South Carolina, the progeny of a Southern gentleman and his slave, who cast off their blemished roots and prospered despite racial barriers. Enhanced by recollections from the family's archivist, eighty-four-year-old Edwina Harleston Whitlock -- whose bloodline the author shares. The Sweet Hell Inside features a celebrated portrait artist whose subjects included industrialist Pierre du Pont; a black classical composer in the Lost Generation of 1920s Paris; and an orphanage founder who created the famous Jenkins Orphanage Band, a definitive force in the development of ragtime and jazz. With evocative and engrossing storytelling, Edward Ball introduces a cast of historical characters rarely seen before: cultured, vain, imperfect, rich, and black -- a family of eccentrics who defied social convention and flourished.

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