The Inventor and the Tycoon: A Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures
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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 Tycoon and the Inventor 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.
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to take an interest in the mines, they bumped into each other again. Once the high greetings and reunion toasts were behind them, Larkyns, who was out of money, noticed that Neil was still possessed of a good store of cash. Larkyns informed Neil, whom he had impressed before, that he was en route to Yokohama, and that his bags, including credit instruments, had been sent ahead. He added that his grandmother in London was good for his expenses. Neil sympathized, loaned him clothes and money, and
and bay mares, thoroughbreds and standardbreds, ponies and trotters. Stanford’s love of horses rivaled that for his wife, Jane, and son, Leland Jr. The horse farm, at the place they had named Palo Alto (high tree, in Spanish), was the centerpoint of his life. The Palo Alto Stock Farm, as it was known, had begun as a diversion from business, but it had turned into an obsession—a riding and training laboratory. At Palo Alto, Stanford could imagine himself as a researcher in equestrian enigmas. In
the meantime. From a box full of slips of paper, a bailiff pulled the names, and as each was called, a man emerged from the crowded courtroom and stepped into the witness box to be examined. The defense wanted jurors who empathized with Muybridge—a married man who had a runaway wife, on the one hand, and a man who confronted a sexual rival, on the other. The prosecution wanted jurors who neither put themselves in Muybridge’s place nor objected to the death penalty. As each prospective juror
hopes for money. The school held frequent revival campaigns, and Stanford saw that these ran headlong into his desire to get rich. “They are holding a protracted meeting here,” he told his brother DeWitt, “and I think I must go over this evening to see if I cannot be made to set a less value upon this world’s goods.” He tipped his hand, slightly, showing that making money was his reason for going to school.9 Gradually the progressive trend of Leland’s teachers had an impact on him. In October,