The Inventor and the Tycoon

The Inventor and the Tycoon
Edward Ball

Historian Edward Ball tracks the interlaced lives of railway tycoon Leland Stanford and photography pioneer Eadweard Muybridge in this dual biography that focuses mainly on their joint contributions to the invention of motion pictures and Muybridge’s murder trial (he shot his wife’s lover). The quality of Ball’s writing and his interesting fracturing of chronology help liven the proceedings up, which is necessary given the nature of his subjects: Stanford was an inarticulate bore and Muybridge a reticent introvert. It’s also worth noting that the movies had many fathers, and locating Muybridge at the headwaters or our modern “screenophilia” is a point that’s often argued. But the book is still a good read, and there are lots of pictures (many of them by Muybridge) to look at.

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