Marconi (9780199313587) by Montreal author Marc Roby, published by Oxford University Press, has been shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize! The Winner will be announced on Monday, March 6, 2017.
Nominated for the 2016 Governor General's Literary Award in Non-fiction.
Longlisted for the 2017 BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction
Behind so much of what we take for granted in the world of instantaneous communication towers Guglielmo Marconi. Thanks to his wireless system, which came into full use about a century ago, the cables that had constrained communication, slowing the exchange of news and information, disappeared. News and information could be transmitted almost everywhere, instantaneously. Ships could communicate with other ships (which saved at least some of the passengers on the RMS Titanic), financial markets could coordinate with other financial markets, and military commanders could maintain contact with front-line troops. Through a combination of skill, luck, vision, and timing, Marconi popularized-and, more critically, patented-a radio system that profoundly and irrevocably changed the way the world communicated.
As Marc Raboy shows in this engrossing and encyclopedic work, Marconi very early envisaged a world of seamless communication and then set out to create it. Born to an Italian father and an Irish mother, Marconi was in many ways stateless. After a demonstration of his wireless apparatus using "Hertzian waves," as radio waves were called, in London at the age of 22 in 1896, he established his Wireless Telegraph & Signal Co. Between that moment and his death in 1937, Marconi was at the heart of every major innovation in electronic communication, including radio transmission, and was courted by powerful scientific, political, and financial interests. He was decorated by the Czar of Russia, named an Italian Senator, knighted by King George V of England, and awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics--all before the age of 40.
Based on original research and unpublished archival materials in four countries, Raboy's biography offers the entirety of Marconi's story, from his early days in Italy, to his groundbreaking experiments in transatlantic communication, to his role as a diplomatic go-between. Raboy also explores Marconi's relationships with his wives, lovers, mistresses and children, and examines in detail the last ten years of the inventor's life, when he returned to Italy and became a leading pillar of Benito Mussolini's fascist regime. Comprehensive, authoritative, and compelling, Marconi reveals the origins of our networked world and the man who first realized it.