Review: Marconi Father of Radio

This is an old book (published in 1965) written by David Gunston. The target audience must be school aged children. It is not a very detailed biography, rather a good overview of his life. Which, I actually enjoy. I love biographies, but sometimes if I am just casually interested in the subject, a children’s book is what I enjoy reading. You get the main facts without all the gory details.

I did not find the book very well written. There were a few typos in the book too. But, the copy I have is a first edition/first printing, so they may have been cleaned up in later printings.

There is a very good time line in the back of the book. Something that I always like seeing in a biography. It is helpful for getting a general overview of how old the person was when major events happened.

Marconi is the man who pioneered radio. Though he did not discover that there were such things as radio waves, he put them into use. Most of his work was pulling together the work of other men and making the jump from theory to practical application. In fact, there were a few of his discoveries that he put into use before science could even prove why it worked. The book stated that there was one of his hunches that he capitalized on and that it took science 30 years to explain why.

He considered himself more of an experimenter than a scientist. He just kept trying different things to see what would work.

The first trans-Atlantic radio communication was in December of 1901. Just 5 years previous he was conducting his first experiments with what we now know as radio and was limited to 2 miles of communication range. Though he did not perfect it into anything near what it is today, he pioneered and discovered the principles that make RADAR possible.

One of the concluding statements in the book that I found interesting was this. “If every form of radio were to be suddenly taken away from us our bustling modern would would instantly grind to an ignominious halt.” That was written more than 40 years ago. How much more true is it today? Telephones and radio would be affected, but also much of our Internet technology would not be possible. Without the work of Marconi, I am sure another person would have made the same discoveries. But what if they didn’t?

Certainly an important person in history.

As a Ham Radio operator, I was interested in the book from a technical standpoint, not so much as a biography. The book was somewhat humorous to me in this light. Many old terms were used in describing the work of Marconi. The author did have a very long section in his concluding pages about the work of Ham Radio operators in his time. I would not, however, recommend the book if you are wanting to learn about ham radio for the first time. Many of the terms used would serve you no purpose.

(Click on the picture of the book to purchase from Amazon.)

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