The Inventor and the Tycoon

  • by Edward Ball
  • Narrated by John H. Mayer
  • 15 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 Inventor and the Tycoon 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.


What the Critics Say

"National Book Award winner Ball (Writing/Yale Univ.; The Genetic Strand: Exploring a Family History Through DNA, 2007, etc.) returns with a complex story about railroad tycoon Leland Stanford and the murdering man who for a time was his protégé, pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge.... A skillfully written tale of technology and wealth, celebrity and murder and the nativity of today's dominant art and entertainment medium." (Kirkus)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


Would you try another book from Edward Ball and/or John H. Mayer?

No, absolutely not. Book drug on! It was very confusing as it is told out of sequence and you end up hearing the same event multiple times and included way too much irrelevant information. ***spoiler alert*** the author continually mentions this cool and meticulous murder and it is anything but. I kept thinking maybe he killed more than his wife's lover but apparently not. Also, the author continually mentions how the subject changes his name to "unpronounceable" Aedweard Muybridge but the narrator seems to manage just fine. It is also the name of a couple of kings so it is pronounceable and not just a made up name. We can't finish it, Two of us made it through 8 hours (long drive) and can't see how he can possibly drag the story out for another 8!

Would you ever listen to anything by Edward Ball again?


What three words best describe John H. Mayer’s performance?


You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?


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- Amber

a challenge to listen to

It took quite an effort to stay with this entire audiobook. The story seemed too broken up and the arc of the story was only tangentially tied to the relationship between the inventor and the tycoon. I never worked as hard to follow an audiobook to the end as I did on The Inventor and the Tycoon.
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- Andy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-22-2013
  • Publisher: Random House Audio