Kathy Stone | 2/20/2014
" This was not a well-written biography. Yes, I know it is about two vastly different people with different personalities, but the writing itself was not great. First the text is two choppy. It jumps from scene to scene with little coherence in events. Since it was about two people, maybe one person' story should have gone first and then the other person's until they met and did the project together. Then there could have been the separation once again as their lives went along different paths. Another pet peeve I had was the fact that Edward Ball kept talking about building size as if it had a footprint. Buildings are on measured lots and then are measured in square feet for tax purposes. I do not understand this concept of footprints except as a term used by environmentalists in regards to fuel usage. Were people using that much fuel in the "Gilded Age"? A history book should give the reader the sense that he has been transported back in time. A well-written book describes the sights, sounds and smells for the reader and in this book it felt like Ball wanted to bring the past to the present.
The inventor was Eadweard Muybridge who invented moving pictures, but not a way to show them that would make a profit. The other supporting inventions would not come about until after he died. Thomas Edison, who is not well-liked by Ball did find a way to show them but not with sound. The tycoon is Leland Stanford,he who built a railroad and gave his fortune to the school named for his son. These men came together over horses. The movement of horses to be exact. Stanford was curious to know if the feet of horses left the ground during a gallop. The only man who had any experience with this kind of photography was Muybridge. He invented things for the camera that allowed for multiple shots, but not how to sell them that way. Book of still photographs were expensive and apparently boring to consumers. Cinemas did not yet exist and the first one would not come about until a year after Muybridge died.
This is not to say the book has no merits. I learned about California and of course the economic stranglehold that the railroad had California under. I just did not like all the jumping back and forth over decades in events while I was reading. There needs to be a natural progression when reading history and this book did not have it. "
Murray | 2/17/2014
" Like Eric Larson, Ball has an entertaining way of combining historical figures or events together in ways you would never imagine and telling a compelling story. In this case, it is the fascinating intertwinings between railroad tycoon Leland Stanford and Edward Muybridge, the inventor of motion capture. While the story between them is dramatic, it pales in comparison to the fact that Muybridge was also a murderer who had committed a crime of passion. The story is written in an unconventional way, with many flash backs and flash forwards. I would have preferred a more linear approach, which, I think, would have added a measure of suspense. Nonetheless, a very gripping book, filled with lots of amazing photographs from the era. "
Paul Furman | 1/29/2014
" It was OK. It was a good story but jumped around too much in time. The last few chapters were great and moved quickly. "
Bill Armstrong | 1/26/2014
" The story of a true American eccentric (OK. He was born in England), Edward Muybridge, the progenitor (according to Ball) of the motion picture. He makes a pretty good case for it. Rather than a linear presentation of the history, Ball opts to leap back and forth in time. I sometimes found that a bit confusing.The book is worth the time to read it as the story of a true pioneer and character. You will not be bored. "
Davina | 1/18/2014
" I learned a lot from this book, but had one major criticism: I appreciate that Ball did not want to tell a linear narrative of the lives of Muybridge and Stanford but it seemed like the order in which their life events were told was random and failed to build suspense. "
Gene Spiritus | 1/17/2014
" If you are interested in the history of photography and movies this is a great read "
Alisa | 12/18/2013
" A bit long, didn't see enough tying it to other contemporary events to give it more context. "
Cynthia | 9/28/2013
" The subject was very interesting but the writing style was dreadful! Cumbersome, uneven, very confusing--I went for days at a time without picking the book up. I was determined to finish, though, and I finally did. I won't choose any other books by this author. "
Martin Kohout | 9/21/2013
" I really wanted to like this, but was put off by the fact that Ball seemed to dislike so thoroughly both of his main characters, Eadweard Muybridge and Leland Stanford. If the author clearly doesn't care for these people, why should we? "
Tiffany | 9/20/2013
" The content of the book was interesting but it was so badly written and had such a feeling of disorganization that it was hard to read. There also seemed to be a lot of repetition and filler information that was not necessary but rather a way to lengthen the book. "
Allyvlee | 9/2/2013
" I learned so much from this book! While it was a bit light on the murder portion and really covered more of the murder trial, I didn't think it even needed it because there was so much to gain from learning about Stanford and Muybridge separately and how they came together to make history. "
Perry Moore | 8/25/2013
" I wish we could give half stars. The Inventor and the Tycoon uses the same type of story progression as Devil in the White City and The Professor and the Madman. I thought I was going to love this book but I found it only okay. "
Liisaan | 6/19/2013
" While the topic and content of this novel are very interesting, it is so poorly organized that it is difficult to follow. In addition, the author switches between first and third person point of view, which only serves to distract the reader. It's too bad, because I had high hopes for this book. "
Michael Mckinney | 6/5/2013
" It was ok. Way too detailed and moved to much back and forth in the story line. "
Peter | 6/5/2013
" Not worth it despite the Big Bang opening. The first few chapters with photos are captivating but then the book devolves into two separate biographies that seldom intersect, both of which seem to bog. Maybe it gets better by the end, but tighter editing should have gotten there much sooner. "