I received this book for free from the publisher as a free story in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
In the Matter of Nikola Tesla: A Romance of the Mind
This fictional biography is a eARC edition that was published by Diversion Books on January 30, 2013 and has 400 pages.
Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.
This is a fictional biography about Nikola Tesla which speculates about what drove him. And I suspect Flacco is using this opportunity as a political platform to point a finger of shame (fistfuls of fingers!) at the self-interested, greedy, shameful financiers, government agencies, and others who can’t handle someone being more intelligent than they. People who didn’t have the compassion of a Tesla, but were more interested in the health of their bottom line at anyone’s expense.
Blog Tour with Lightning Book Promotions
My review of In the Matter of Nikola Tesla is part of a blog tour promotion by Lightning Book Promotions and there is a guest post by Anthony Flacco which provides a bit more depth on Tesla and his motivations as well as a book trailer.
What others are saying about Flacco’s In the Matter of Nikola Tesla
“It is a monumental task, this getting into the mind of a man as complex and extraordinary as Tesla. Anthony Flacco is up to the task. In the Matter of Nikola Tesla: A Romance of the Mind reads at times like a psychological exploration worthy of Dostoyevsky, at other times like one of John le Carre’s espionage novels, and even sometimes like Joseph Campbell’s mythical ‘hero’s journey.'”
– NY Journal of Book Reviews
“Anthony Flacco’s In the Matter of Nikola Tesla is really fascinating—especially for me as I’ve been very interested in Nikola Tesla for many years. I believe Tesla was one of the most special characters of last century. I hope that this book will soon become a film!”
– Mario Spezi, NY Times Bestselling Author, The Monster of Florence
Now for My Take
Do read the intro…it sets up a question in one’s mind. Although it didn’t turn out to be the question I had in mind… I’ve been reading too many paranormal books!
On the whole, while I appreciated learning something — fictionally, anyway — of Tesla’s life, this story simply depressed the hell out of me. As I read, I was always tense and on the verge of crying. A brilliant man, who, admittedly, had his issues. One who was sabotaged every step of the way by unthinking people, greedy financiers, and paranoid, short-sighted government agencies.
Part of me wanted to smack Tesla upside the head and tell him to pay attention to the basics of life and work. Or at least hire someone to take care of this. AND see a frickin’ lawyer! Did he never learn from the past and the people who tricked him or cheated him?
The other part wished that people would simply have accepted and supported him. There was so much he was willing to give away, so much that could have benefited the world, and instead it all fell apart for greed, fear, and ego. Edison, J. Pierpont Morgan, and Westinghouse should have been ashamed of themselves. They’re the ones the government should have targeted.
I only know bits and pieces about Tesla — that he was a true genius and surpassed Thomas Edison in intelligence and creativity. That he was an incapable businessman. So I don’t know how much of Flacco’s imagination has created the whole Karina thing. Tesla’s metaphysical manifestations of the inventions, breakthroughs, and understandings was an interesting concept. And simply makes it all the sadder that his genius was publicly destroyed out of individual self-interest.
I don’t really understand the purpose of the first chapter. It’s more of a fury out of context used to set Edison’s hatred. Now if it had been a prologue, it would have made more sense to me, although whether its a first chapter or a prologue, its places an “importance” on it being Edison as the author of Tesla’s destruction. And I don’t feel that the story followed through on that importance.
The demons of which Doktor Poeschl speaks, the demons of depression…well, that’s just all too true and too depressing. Those demons certainly got to me, although it doesn’t seem as if these particular demons touched Tesla. He carried his own very personal set of demons along in his life.
Flacco was brilliant at conveying the fears of people then with their misunderstanding, their lack of information about science, progress, and the metaphysical. He certainly brought back those high school history sessions about the robber barons of the 19th century! And the government complicity of then that continues today.
What is with Baudelaire? His obsession with conspiracies?? Hmmm, does that dripping water represent Baudelaire’s irritation with Tesla?
I do understand why people feel threatened by a fellow employee who is brilliant and works too hard. But why do they have to be so cruel about it? Why does it threaten their egos? How can a company not see the benefit of someone like Tesla?
Then there’s the Ugly American attitudes! Arghhh. What jerks! And no, I’m not saying it’s an only-in-America perspective; it’s one that’s held by people everywhere. People who are too insular, too lacking in self-confidence who feel a need to put down another person’s origins. Who feel a need to feel superior to everyone else.
All in all, it’s a fascinating story that depressed the hell out of me. I wish I had a time machine and could go back and help this man.
A young man with vision and the intelligence and drive to accomplish what he sees. He has such enthusiasm and trust. And it just makes me cry. Sure, he’s one of those brilliant geniuses who has no social competence. But he tries. He has no business sense, and yet he continues to try. And what does the world do to him?
Nikola Tesla was of Croatian descent and too intelligent for his own good. A typical genius, he had no sense of how to behave in society. And no real interest either. Reverend Milutin Tesla was his frustrated father; Djouka is his mother with a metaphysical talent of her own that she was pleased to see her younger son had inherited. Three daughters are mentioned.
Karina was the “daughter of the town’s most powerful family”, way above Nikola’s touch, but Nikola had been her tutor for a year (and in love with her) until her death. Samuel Clemens appears, and I’m not really sure why.
George Scherff is an assistant hired shortly before the big fire; a true friend. George Scherff, Jr., was his son entrusted at the end with important plans. I’m not quite sure why there was such an emphasis on Nell Whitaker working for Tesla unless it was to emphasize his sense of equality.
Herr Doktor Poeschl was the first to warn Tesla to be aware of his actions in society. A pointless effort. Manager Baudelaire was overly obsessed with Tesla’s being transferred to him. Then his attempt to create failure or him…why? The cheat he perpetrated, and continued by Edison…scum. Both of ’em. Frederick William III, Crown Prince of Prussia, and heir to the Kaiser’s throne. He’s an anomaly. His actions don’t jibe with World War I and yet he’s close enough age-wise that I feel a need to research his reign.
Corrine Watters is Tesla’s first benefactor. I also see her as his second betrayer — on American soil. Fritz Lowenstein is working as a foreman on back-breaking jobs, but also can find the financing Tesla needs to start up his second laboratory. Mr. Stanley Adams is another investor.
Thomas Edison was in his late thirties and already acclaimed as the Wizard of Menlo Park. And what a greedy, egotistical, fraudulent schmuck he was! Just thinking about what he did, the cheating!! and his stupid fear, is enough to infuriate me all over again. J. Pierpont Morgan is a banker with a need to humiliate others. George Westinghouse is a manufacturer who pays lip service to his honor. What would it have hurt him to support Tesla at the end! John Jacob Astor appears to have been a true philanthropist.
The Cover and Title
The cover is electrifying with its fuchsia background setting off a black-and-white image of a gorgeous Nikola Tesla.
The title makes me feel as though we are about to read of a trial…In the Matter of Nikola Tesla…and in a way, we are reading the trial that his life was. The subtitle…hmmm…so many ways to go with that one, and yet the underlying theme of A Romance of the Mind is Karina with discovery a close second.
If you’d like to get a different perspective from other reviewers, check out: Darryl’s interview on May 7; Stacy‘s and Paula‘s reviews on May 8 and May 10, respectively; Catalina on tumblr on May 9; and, Ruth’s guest post on May 11 at My Devotional Thoughts. Happy reading!!
Anthony Flacco is the author of five nonfiction books and three historical novels, all released by major publishers. His first nonfiction, A Checklist for Murder, was acquired in auction by Dell Books and turned in solid sales. Anthony adapted his book as a two-hour television movie script and sold it to NBC Studios for a movie of the week. He completed his nonfiction book, Tiny Dancer for St. Martin’s Press, and the advance copy was selected by Reader’s Digest as their Editor’s Choice for August 2005. His other books are The Last Nightingale, The Hidden Man, The Road Out of Hell, Impossible Odds, and Publish Your Nonfiction Book.
He holds an MFA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, was selected for the Walt Disney Studios Screenwriting Fellowship, and spent a year writing for the Touchstone Picture division.
Check out his site for some more cool info on In the Matter of Nikola Tesla.