Young Thomas Edison Critical Essays

Sterling North


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

North’s biography of Edison is a substantial tribute to a great scientist and inventor whose creations played tremendous roles in the development of twentieth century technology. North cites an estimate from The New York Times during the early 1920’s that Edison’s thousands of inventions had contributed more than fifteen billion dollars to the United States’ economy. During his work on any particular invention, Edison performed thousands of experiments to verify and improve his creation. The device had to be efficient and be of use to the public or industry. He worked continuously, obtained very little sleep, and was meticulous in his testing of devices and inventions. As such, North’s account is a clear enunciation of the fruits of diligent work and creative thinking.

At the same time, North reiterates Edison’s repeated squandering of amassed fortunes. Edison would make huge profits from certain inventions and then spend all the money on chemicals and expensive experiments to design new inventions. His numerous friends and financiers usually were patient with him, however, knowing that he would eventually come through with some new, triumphant invention. Eventually, Edison did become more cautious with his financial resources.

Edison is portrayed as a humanitarian and seeker of knowledge. North straightforwardly challenges the reader to view Edison as “one of the great men of all time.” North drives this point home...

(The entire section is 573 words.)