About David J. Kent

I have been a scientist for the last 30 years. First as a marine biologist (yep, even met Jacques Cousteau’s son Jean-Michel once), then as an actual paid scientist for a series of consulting firms. During this time paying the bills I’ve also done a fair amount of traveling. I’ve lived in a few different countries, with the most recent being three years living in Brussels. Since I was very young I’ve had this thing about Abraham Lincoln and now own well over 600 books (i.e., titles…some of the titles are multiple volumes to the actual number of physical books straining my bookshelves is closer to 1000). I also like to visit aquariums, which is probably a psychological throwback to my marine biology days. In any case, I’ve seen dozens all around the world.

I also like to write. I’ve written/edited/published several newsletters, contributed to many others, have a dozen or so peer-reviewed papers and a book chapter (or two if you count the second edition), and scads of other miscellaneous writing. [Note: “scads” is a technical writing term for, well, scads.] My latest endeavors are books – I have the one contract to write a book on Tesla and expect another for one on Lincoln.

I hope you’ll find this web site entertaining, and once I get all the features working, informative. I write about all the things I’ve mentioned above – Tesla, Lincoln, aquariums, and a whole lot about travel. If you have any requests, be sure to let me know.

Last Chance for Free Shipping on Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America

Get it in time for the holidays! And get shipping for FREE!

You can have a signed copy of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America without having to pay a shipping fee.

Check out a Preview and the Table of Contents here.

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Through December 10th shipping fees will be waived. Just pay the price of the book and I’ll ship it anywhere in the continental United States for free.

Go to my “Buy the Books” page to order now!

Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World

 

 

The same terms apply to my Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World book!

[Sorry, Tesla books temporarily out of stock. Check back in January.]

 

 

 

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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Nikola Tesla Takes on Einstein

Nikola Tesla portraitRotating magnetic fields, alternating current motors and transformers, the Tesla coil, wireless transmission of radio communication, wireless lighting…Nikola Tesla had no shortage of inventions that he could call his own. But these were not the only inventions in which he dabbled. Besides his wireless radio communication and alternating current systems, and like other great inventors from da Vinci to Edison, Tesla was intrigued by a great many other issues. One such issue to which he gave a great deal of thought was the relationship between matter and energy. Late in life he even claimed to have developed a new dynamic theory of gravity, though the details of his theory were never presented. One thing was clear, however, Tesla did not think Albert Einstein had gotten it right when he introduced his theories of relativity: “Tesla continuously attacked the validity of Einstein’s work,” his first biographer John O’Neill would write, “he ridiculed the belief that energy could be obtained from matter.”

Einstein, of course, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.” While he is probably best known for his development of “the world’s most famous equation, E = mc2,” Einstein’s greatest contributions were in reconciling the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of electromagnetic fields. He believed that Newtonian mechanics did not adequately accomplish this reconciliation, which led to his special theory of relativity in 1905. Extending this concept to gravitational fields, Einstein published his general theory of relativity in 1916. The following year he applied the general theory to model the structure of the universe as a whole.

To vastly oversimplify, general relativity provides for a unified description of gravity as a geometric property of space and time. One key feature is that space-time is both curved and a function of the energy and momentum of matter and radiation. This is why light is bent around planets and other celestial bodies as it is influenced by their gravitational fields. It is also why time passes more slowly the closer the clock is to the source of gravitation (or conversely, why astronauts on a mission to points outside our solar system would return much younger than if they had remained on Earth).

Undeterred by the worldwide preeminence of such a man as Einstein, Tesla, at the ripe old age of eighty-two, wrote that he was fortunate enough to work out “two far reaching discoveries.” One was a dynamic theory of gravity, which he said “explains the causes of this force and the motions of heavenly bodies under its influence so satisfactorily that it will put an end to idle speculation and false conceptions, as that of curved space.” The “idle speculation” of curved space was, of course, one of the key features of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Tesla argued that Einstein’s theories were nothing more than “magnificent mathematical garb which fascinates, dazzles and makes people blind to the underlying errors.”

Tesla’s other far-reaching discovery was a physical truth that he felt could best be expressed by the statement:

“There is no energy in matter other than that received from the environment.”

He argued that no theory could

“explain the workings of the universe without recognizing the existence of the ether and the indispensable function it plays in the phenomena.”

The presence of the ether—the unseen medium between all the bodies of the universe—had already been contested by many scientists, including Einstein. Instead of the ether, Einstein inserted his own space-time construct that allowed space to curve around gravitational bodies. Tesla disagreed with Einstein, saying:

I hold that space cannot be curved, for the simple reason that it can have no properties. It might as well be said that God has properties. He has not, but only attributes and these are of our own making. Of properties we can only speak when dealing with matter filling the space. To say that in the presence of large bodies space becomes curved is equivalent to stating that something can act upon nothing. I, for one, refuse to subscribe to such a view.

The question was not inconsequential—if the ether existed then the speed of light would not be constant, it would vary depending on the forces of the celestial bodies. Experiments carried out by Albert Michelson and William Morley in 1887 had already shown that the ether actually did not exist, notwithstanding Tesla’s insistence many decades after this to the contrary.

Still undeterred, Tesla believed that he had discovered what came to be known as “Tesla waves,” which would move faster than the speed of light. He argued that the propagation of currents from his magnifying transmitter—“a peculiar transformer specially adapted to excite the Earth”—would begin with “a theoretically infinite speed” and then later “proceeds [sic] with the speed of light.” But that would not be the end as “from there on it again increases in speed, slowly at first, and then more rapidly,” eventually passing through the Earth to a point diametrically opposed to it “with approximately infinite velocity.” Needless to say this was a direct contradiction to Einstein’s demonstration that the speed of light is a constant and that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, at least in a vacuum.

Whether Tesla could have provided some additional insight to Einstein’s thinking on relativity if he had presented his views many years earlier, we will never know. In the end it was Einstein whose theories were written down, underwent scrutiny, and are generally accepted today.

[The above is an adaptation from my book Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity.]

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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If It’s Tuesday…The Saga Continues

BrusselsI’ve been writing periodic posts cataloguing my previous three-year secondment to Brussels. Check out the series here. It’s been a while since I’ve posted but the saga of jumping through hoops to work in Europe continues.

At this point, I had been running around town fulfilling the fantasies of bureaucrats.  Over a few days I had:

1) Gotten a medical exam from the only doctor in Washington DC approved by the Belgian government for “official” exams (there are only 7 in the entire US). The odd thing was the doctor seemed like he was old enough to be in medical school around the turn of the century – the LAST century (1900).  I literally was reviewing CPR procedures in my head while he was examining me in case he were to suddenly keel over. It was a close call but both of us escaped from the room upright.

2) Gotten a chest X-ray at a separate medical office to prove I didn’t have anything I was going to spread to the Belgians. A blood sample went to a third lab for analysis. Apparently they don’t want my deadly germs spreading to “the old countries.” Perhaps they remember Columbus.

3) Returned two days later to the doctor to pick up my signed and stamped medical certificate, which I then had to run up to the Belgian Embassy (one of the benefits of working in DC is that just about everything needed is right here). Given that the Embassy was only 3/4 mile from the nearest Metro stop (and the fact that all the taxis were on strike that day), I decided to walk there and back. Naturally it started to rain just as I left and continued until just after I returned….and I hadn’t brought along an umbrella because there wasn’t any rain in the forecast.  Oh well. I was a bit damp but the trek was successful.

4) Running out again to the now defunct Ritz Camera to get two ID photos taken for my passport visa. I’m not particularly photogenic and the photographers seem to capture that deficiency well.

5) Sending all of this along with my CV, copies of my college diplomas, copies of every single page (even the blank ones) of my passport, and a few other pieces of paper to the Brussels office so I can get a work permit. [Of course, I still couldn’t get that until the FBI ran a background check on the fingerprints I had taken a couple of weeks before.]

Once the work permit was issued I had to take that up to the Belgian Embassy again to get my visa. Once I (finally) got to Brussels I had more paperwork to do in order to get a residency card. That excruciating process that had to be repeated every year for my three years there. Anyone who thinks America’s bureaucracy is burdensome needs to live in Europe to appreciate just how easy we have it in the states.

I began to see why some immigrants to my own country choose to take their chances bypassing the official procedures….you could grow old waiting for all the paperwork to be filed. And I’m only going over for a few years. And I was working for the same firm, just changing offices.

But it was worth it.

More to come.

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

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Free Shipping on Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America

Lincoln: The Man Who Saved AmericaNow that Thanksgiving weekend has passed, it’s time to think about Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. And now you can have a signed copy of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America without having to pay a shipping fee.

Through December 10th shipping fees will be waived. Just pay the price of the book and I’ll ship it anywhere in the continental United States for free.

Go to my “Buy the Books” page to order.

The book has been selling fast in Barnes & Noble stores and is currently out of stock in the B&N warehouse. So until a new printing is available your options are to run quickly to your local B&N to see if they have any on the shelves, or click on over to my “Buy the Books” page to order a signed copy direct from me.

I’ve been running around a lot on the Lincoln circuit this past few weeks, e.g., see some photos here and here and here.

Next up – I’ll be giving a presentation at a luncheon of the Lincoln Group of DC on December 10th at Maggiano’s Restaurant in Washington DC. Check out the Lincoln Group website to join us.

Lincoln: The Man Who Saved AmericaAnd don’t forget to go to my “Buy the Books” page to order Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America with FREE Shipping in the continental United States. Now through December 10th.

Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World

 

The same terms apply to my Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World book!

[Sorry, Tesla books temporarily out of stock. Check back in January.]

 

 

 

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below

A Busy Week of Abraham Lincoln

This past week has been full on Abraham Lincoln. First a wine and cheese party with the visiting folks of the Abraham Lincoln Association of Springfield, Illinois. Held in the Lincoln Cottage in DC, the Lincoln Group of DC was happy to return the favor ALA gave us on our trip to Springfield last year.

From there is was on to Gettysburg for the annual Lincoln Forum where I caught up with Jonathan W. White (above). Among many great speakers and panels were Guy Fraker and Edna Greene Medford. Our main keynote speaker was none other than Ron Chernow (of Hamilton and Grant fame).

I also caught up with old friend George Buss, who plays Lincoln.

Forum Chair Frank Williams announced he’ll be stepping down after this year.

Forum Co-Chair Harold Holzer was also this year’s keynote speaker at the Gettysburg Dedication Day ceremonies.

And you can never have too many Lincoln’s. Here’s George Buss with fellow Lincoln portrayer, Ron Carley.

More to come after my travels.

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Lincoln Forum and the Gettysburg Dedication

Abe and MeNovember 19th is Dedication Day, the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address (admit it, you had to memorize it in middle school too). It’s also the week of the annual Lincoln Forum, held November 16-18. I’ll be at both.

The focus of this year’s Forum is “Lincoln and His Contemporaries: Friends, Enemies, and Successors.” Speakers will include Charles Strozier (talking about Lincoln’s intimate friend, Joshua Speed), Steven Engle (Lincoln and the War Governors), Jonathan W. White (Dreams of War and Peace), Melanie Kirkpatrick (Lincoln and Thanksgiving, which appropriately follows next week), and Annette Gordon-Reed (Andrew Johnson, who is either a friend or enemy and questionable successor, depending on your point of view).

Not to be missed is a break out session in which friends and foes Craig L. Symonds and John F. Marszalek do their best Abbott and Costello routine (or Costello and Costello) facing off with Northern and Southern perspectives of the Civil War.

The Forum is deftly guided by founding and continuing Chair, the Honorable Frank J. Williams and unrivaled Lincoln scholar and Forum Vice-Chair, Harold Holzer. The two, along with a cast of dedicated Board members and staff, have led the Forum for 22 years, and every year seems to get even better. One of the preeminent Lincoln conferences, each year about 300 Lincoln scholars and aficionados, some in period costumes, join together to share great scholarship, good food, and long-lasting relationships. If you haven’t already, check out the Forum website at the link above (and the other Lincoln groups, including my own Lincoln Group of DC, in the links below).

I’ll be there catching up with other Lincoln authors, attending the talks, and increasing my already voluminous Lincoln library. I’ll also have copies of my own Lincoln book. Anyone who wants one can catch me roaming the hallways and I’ll be happy to sign one for you.

As the Forum ends the crowd shifts to the Gettysburg Battlefield where George Buss plays Abraham Lincoln and recites the Gettysburg Address. This year’s keynote speaker is none other than the Forum’s Harold Holzer.

This week is a busy one for us Lincoln scholars and geeks. Last night I attended a welcoming reception at the Lincoln Cottage for members of the Abraham Lincoln Association. ALA hosted us a year ago when over 20 Lincoln Group of DC members toured the Springfield, Illinois area. We were happy to return the favor as ALA engages in its annual “fishing trip” before heading up to the Lincoln Forum.

See you at the Forum!

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Updates on Tesla, Edison, Lincoln

It’s been a busy year for Tesla, Edison, and Lincoln. Based on the Barnes and Noble website, I’m expecting new printings for all three books. Plus, foreign translations!

The 8th printing of my Tesla book should be available any day now given the information I had received from the publisher. The book is sold out in my local store and temporarily unavailable on the B&N site as they get more books in the warehouse. Buyers at the local B&N tell me they still have brisk sales four years after the original publication. The situation is similar for my Edison book released in 2016, with the local store selling out and more books needed in the warehouse. And my newest book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is selling well according the manager of my local store. They’ve just restocked the shelves and a new printing is definitely due.

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In addition, Edison has joined Tesla in a Dutch language edition. The European publisher had previously done Dutch, German, and Spanish editions of Tesla so I expect to see the same for Edison. Tesla also is now in a Czech language edition. Hopefully the publisher will pick up the Lincoln book for translation some time next year.

Meanwhile, my recently released Lincoln book is doing well. I recently presented at the DC Historical Society conference in Washington, DC and I’m shortly heading up to Gettysburg for the annual Lincoln Forum. Then on December 12th I’ll present my book to the Lincoln Group of DC (click here to join us).

If that wasn’t enough, I am working on a new Lincoln book, and will be proposing a second Lincoln book in January. Stay tuned for more.

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

 

Abraham Lincoln and the DC Historical Society Conference

I had the pleasure of participating in the DC Historical Society Annual Conference this weekend. The conference focused on the 50th anniversary of the civil unrest of 1968, a pivotal moment in the history of the District. I was there to speak about the man who played a large role in creating the civil rights movement – Abraham Lincoln.

On Friday I spent much of the day manning the Lincoln Group of DC table. Joined by Lincoln Group President John Elliff, Vice President John O’Brien, and fellow authors Elizabeth Smith Brownstein and Carl Adams, we provided information on the group and sold signed copies of our books.

DC Historical Society 11-4-17

Photo (c) Bruce Guthrie

On Saturday I was the sole presenter in the “Author Talks” segment. I had the opportunity to spend close to an hour with the attendees. After giving a presentation on Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, I entertained questions from an engaged group of Lincoln and DC aficionados. I was even asked about my other books on Tesla and Edison. Being able to interact with people who are truly interested in history and your writing is truly a privilege.

DC Historical Society 11-4-17

Photo (c) Bruce Guthrie

More information about the DC Historical Society can be found on their website. Meanwhile, I’m headed up to Gettysburg next week for the annual Lincoln Forum conference and the Battlefield Dedication day where good friend George Buss will present Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Lincoln Forum Vice-Chair Harold Holzer is the keynote speaker for the event.

For those in the DC area, I’ll also be speaking at the Lincoln Group of DC luncheon on December 12th. Check out the website and sign up now for this great event that will also feature Elizabeth Smith Brownstein and Carl Adams.

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

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The 12 Apostles of Victoria, Australia

The gloriousness of the 12 Apostles is not to be missed, despite the fact that there are not really 12, and obviously they aren’t apostles. Still, this is one of those must-see spots in Australia.

The 12 Apostles are a group of limestone stacks off the southern coast of Victoria, Australia. Reached by the Great Ocean Road (a marvel in its own right), the Apostles are slowly eroding away from wind and water. Despite the name, there really were only 9 stacks, but only about 8 remain. I say “about 8” because several of the rest are tenuously perched, and huge storms could lead to collapse on an unpredictable time frame. The last big collapse was in July of 2005 when a 160-foot tall stack suddenly fell and broke up.

 

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Given the slow rate of erosion, you don’t have to worry about racing there before they are all gone. In fact,  the processes that are eroding the existing Apostles are eating away at the more massive limestone cliffs. So come back in a 100 (or 1000) years and you see more Apostles emerging.

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Not far from the 12 Apostles is Loch Ard Gorge with its own amazing limestone architecture, a hint of which can be seen in the slide show above. The “Loch Ard” was the name of a clipper ship that ran aground in 1878. Of the 54 crew aboard, only two survived. Nineteen year old Tom Pearce, a ship’s apprentice, struggled ashore, then rescued 19-year-old Eva Carmichael. Alas, their potential fairy tale story ends there, as both returned to Europe separately. Not to be stymied by reality, when the nearby archway collapsed in June 2009, the two separated limestone pillars were officially named Tom and Eva to commemorate the shipwreck. After all, the story helps the tourist trade, right.

All kidding aside, the trip along the Great Ocean Road was indeed great. The coastline is amazing, as was the temperate rain forest we also saw along the way (more on that later).

More posts on Australia and New Zealand coming soon. The trip took us from Sydney to the Great Barrier Reef to Lord of the Rings New Zealand to Uluru. So much more to show.

David J. Kent is a science traveler. He is also the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Joseph Henry, the Smithsonian, and Abraham Lincoln

National Academy of Sciences foundersJoseph Henry was not initially impressed with Abraham Lincoln.

Barely a month after Lincoln settled into his new office in “that big white house,” the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution made his introductory visit. Henry’s inherent misgivings about the frontier politician were reinforced as he waited impatiently for an hour while a steady stream of the lowermost job seekers filed in and out of the President’s office. When finally allowed to see him, Henry thought Lincoln appeared careworn. After exchanging routine pleasantries, Henry explained the new president’s official role as prime overseer of the Smithsonian and invited Lincoln to attend the next regents’ meeting. But the president seemed disinterested. Henry’s conversation with the Lincoln, with Secretary of State William Seward present, was uncomfortable and brief. Henry felt disappointed by this country lawyer from the West and walked away feeling the President was “withdrawn and ill at ease.” Was Lincoln the uneducated, uncultured boor rumors made him out to be, one who could never understand the high intellectual ambitions of the Smithsonian Institution? Was the open dislike of Henry’s family for the man who General McClellan would later call an uncouth “gorilla” justified?

Granted, Henry thought, Lincoln was preoccupied with more urgent matters. Fort Sumter had fallen on April 12th and, as longtime friend Captain Montgomery Meigs informed Henry while they both waited for an audience, Lincoln was weighing various options for quickly ending the rebellion of seceded states. Perhaps he should not be so quick to judge, thought Henry, and indeed, over time he would come to appreciate Lincoln’s folksy intellect. Lincoln himself would rapidly come to see the importance of the Smithsonian and science for the war effort…and the future of the Union.

[From a work in progress. For my most recent book on Abraham Lincoln, check out Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America.]

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.