“The Inventor and the Tycoon” by Edward Ball delineates the money man, his idea and the murderer involved in the development of processes and techniques that were the predecessor of all moving type visuals such as movies and TV that we enjoy today. For the photographically minded it presents a case for what might be considered as the first use of a crude camera “shutter” type mechanism. The best thing about this dissertation is that you do not have to read the entire book to get the basic answer. In the first 30 pages or so the author gives you a Cliff Notes synopsis of the story and it’s major players then devotes the next 360 some pages to explaining in detail how the series of events that led to the invention transpired. While I originally acquired my copy of this book from the local public library I thought enough of it to purchase a previously owned hard cover copy from an Ebay seller to add to my personal library.
While it is not the focus of this book, author Edward Ball succinctly covers some events leading up to and encompassing the building of the transcontinental railroad and the corruption that evolved in the process. He then provides collected descriptions and a few early photographs of the Leland Stanford family to show where and how they lived. This “behind the scenes perspective” is different from the point of view normally offered by railroad historians who have focused on Leland Stanford and his association with the Central Pacific railroad. I found “The Inventor and the Tycoon” an interesting bridge between two of my interests, railroading and photography. Who knew that Leland Stanford would be the link that ties those two interests together.