The Inventor and the Tycoon by Edward Ball
A Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures

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...he can't quite make a wholly convincing case for the significance of Muybridge in the one arena in which some people claim he was central: the invention of moving pictures.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

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.
 

About Edward Ball

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EDWARD BALL is the author of four works of nonfiction, including the bestselling, National Book Award-winning Slaves in the Family. Born and raised in the South, he attended Brown University and received his MFA from the University of Iowa before coming to New York and working as an art critic for the Village Voice. He lives in Connecticut and teaches writing at Yale University.
 
Published January 22, 2013 by Anchor. 464 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Inventor and the Tycoon
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Candice Millard on Jan 25 2013

Although Muybridge was a chameleon-like figure throughout his life, Ball uses exhaustive research and vivid details to pin him down so we can have a good look at him.

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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Simon Winchester on Feb 06 2013

...he can't quite make a wholly convincing case for the significance of Muybridge in the one arena in which some people claim he was central: the invention of moving pictures.

Read Full Review of The Inventor and the Tycoon: ... | See more reviews from WSJ online

National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Feb 08 2013

Such, according to Bell, is the history behind the birth of the movies. The circumstances of that birth were not the happiest, but it’s an intriguing tale nonetheless and it makes for an absorbing biography, thoroughly researched and gracefully written.

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