Paul Israel is the Director and General Editor of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University and author of the book “Edison – A Life of Invention.”
It is the most insightful book ever written about Thomas Edison and his invention of the electric economy, with all due respect to the hundreds of other tomes on this topic. Paul Israel showed in "Edison — A Life of Invention" (1998, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.) that Edison imagined economical generation and distribution of electricity well before he created a practical light bulb, that arguably his biggest breakthrough was to finance and build teams of scientists and engineers and ultimately the modern notion of the research laboratory, and that — contrary to popular perception — he intensively studied and applied scientific knowledge to guide his work.
Israel, who has led the massive undertaking that organizes and publishes the millions of pages of documents on Edison, wrote this for example in his 1998 book about the Wizard of Menlo Park: "In contrast to [his foremost American rival William] Sawyer, Edison recognized that the successful demonstration of his system proved only that electric lighting was technically feasible. Instead of moving immediately to manufacture the lamp, he began a new period of development research designed to make his system economically competitive with gaslight."