Lightning Man; The Accursed Life of Samuel F. B. Morse

Nancy Crampon (Author photograph) New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. First Edition [stated], presumed first printing. Hardcover. vi, 503, [1] pages. Illustrations. Documentation. Index. Kenneth Eugene Silverman (February 5, 1936 – July 7, 2017) was an American biographer and educator. He won a Pulitzer Prize and a Bancroft Prize for his 1984 biography of Cotton Mather, The Life and Times of Cotton Mather. Silverman, who specialized in Colonial American literature, was a professor of English at New York University until his retirement in 2001. Silverman educated at Columbia University, where he received B.A. (1956), M.A. (1958) and Ph.D. (1964) degrees in English. Silverman was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition to the Pulitzer and Bancroft Prizes, he won an Edgar Award of the Mystery Writers of America for his 1991 biography of Edgar Allan Poe and the Christopher Literary Award of the Society of American Magicians for his work on Harry Houdini. Samuel Finley Breese Morse (April 27, 1791 – April 2, 1872) was an American inventor and painter. After having established his reputation as a portrait painter, in his middle age Morse contributed to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system based on European telegraphs. He was a co-developer of Morse code and helped to develop the commercial use of telegraphy. Though he was rarely awarded any royalties for the later uses and implementations of his inventions, he was able to live comfortably. In this brilliantly conceived and written biography, Pulitzer Prizewinning Kenneth Silverman gives us the long and amazing life of the man eulogized by the New York Herald in 1872 as perhaps the most illustrious American of his age. Silverman presents Samuel Morse in all his complexity. There is the gifted and prolific painter (more than three hundred portraits and larger historical canvases) and pioneer photographer, who gave the first lectures on art in America, became the first Professor of Fine Arts at an American college (New York University), and founded the National Academy of Design. There is the republican idealist, prominent in antebellum politics, who ran for Congress and for mayor of New York. But most important, there is the inventor of the American electromagnetic telegraph, which earned Morse the name Lightning Man and brought him the fame he sought. In these pages, we witness the evolution of the great invention from its inception as an idea to its introduction to the world, an event that astonished Morse's contemporaries and was considered the supreme expression of the country's inventive genius. We see how it transformed commerce, journalism, transportation, military affairs, diplomacy, and the very shape of daily life, ushering in the modern era of communication. But we discover as well that Morse viewed his existence as accursed rather than illustrious, his every achievement seeming to end in loss and defeat: his most ambitious canvases went unsold; his beloved republic imploded into civil war, making it unlivable for him; and the commercial success of the telegraph engulfed him in lawsuits challenging the originality and ownership of his invention. Lightning Man is the first biography of Samuel F. B. Morse in sixty years. It is a revelation of the life of a fascinating and profoundly troubled American genius. Condition: Very good / Very good.

Keywords: Samuel F. B. Morse, Morse Code, Telegraphy, Artists, Inventors, Cyprus Field, Amos Kindle, Henry O'Reilly, Patents, Portrait Painting, Francis Smith, Alfred Vial

ISBN: 0375401288

[Book #85046]

Price: $60.00

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