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Invention of Miracles

language, power, and Alexander Graham Bell’s quest to end deafness

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‘Engagingly written … Booth’s descriptions of Bell’s passionate courtship of his student Mabel Hubbard, who belonged to a much higher social class, are as stirring as a romance novel, and her narrative of his work on the telephone reads like a thriller … Her meticulous research and rigour are evident on every page … Booth’s anger reflects a current trend of holding people from the past to standards of the present.’

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Andrew Solomon, The New York Times

A revelatory revisionist biography of Alexander Graham Bell - renowned inventor of the telephone and powerful enemy of the deaf community.



When Alexander Graham Bell first unveiled his telephone to the world, it was considered miraculous. Les mer

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A revelatory revisionist biography of Alexander Graham Bell - renowned inventor of the telephone and powerful enemy of the deaf community.



When Alexander Graham Bell first unveiled his telephone to the world, it was considered miraculous. But few people know that it was inspired by another supposed miracle: his work teaching the deaf to speak. The son of one deaf woman and husband to another, he was motivated by a desire to empower deaf people by integrating them into the hearing world, but he ended up becoming their most powerful enemy, waging a war against sign language and deaf culture that still rages today.



The Invention of Miracles tells the dual stories of Bell's remarkable, world-changing invention and his dangerous ethnocide of deaf culture and language. It also charts the rise of deaf activism and tells the triumphant tale of a community reclaiming a once-forbidden language.



Katie Booth has researched this story for over a decade, poring over Bell's papers, Library of Congress archives, and the records of deaf schools around America. Witnessing the damaging impact of Bell's legacy on her deaf family set her on a path that upturned everything she thought she knew about language, power, deafness, and technology.

Detaljer

Forlag
Scribe Publications
Innbinding
Innbundet
Språk
Engelsk
ISBN
9781913348403
Utgivelsesår
2021
Format
23 x 15 cm
Priser
HWA Nonfiction Crown Award 2022

Om forfatteren

Katie Booth teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh. Her work has appeared in The Believer, Aeon, Catapult, and Harper’s Magazine, and has been highlighted on Longreads and Longform; ‘The Sign for This’ was a notable essay in the 2016 edition of Best American Essays. Booth received a number of prestigious fellowships to support the writing of The Invention of Miracles, including from the Library of Congress and the Massachusetts Historical Society. She was raised in a mixed hearing/deaf family.

Anmeldelser

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‘Engagingly written … Booth’s descriptions of Bell’s passionate courtship of his student Mabel Hubbard, who belonged to a much higher social class, are as stirring as a romance novel, and her narrative of his work on the telephone reads like a thriller … Her meticulous research and rigour are evident on every page … Booth’s anger reflects a current trend of holding people from the past to standards of the present.’

»

Andrew Solomon, The New York Times

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‘Booth paints a textured portrait of a man driven not by an entrepreneurial desire to invent a product that changed the world but by a passion to improve the lives of deaf people. Booth interweaves these two themes into a revealing biography that will enlighten readers … Much of Booth’s biography carefully details Bell’s personal life and his marriage, she does not spare a careful assessment of his theories and politics … Booth has exhaustively researched Bell’s long life in preparation for her biography and provides many invaluable insights and information … an informative and revealing biography.’

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David Rosen, The New York Journal of Books

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‘As schoolchildren we learn that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. We don’t learn that this is among the least interesting things about him. It takes a book like Katie Booth’s The Invention of Miracles to teach us that. Provocative, personal, and exhaustively researched, Booth’s book is the rare biography that completely alters a famous person’s popular image … Booth has the courage and perspective to portray her subject’s deeply flawed humanity, giving the book its poetry and tragic resonance.’

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The Boston Globe

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‘Katie Booth revisits Bell's legacy, exploring his creative genius and his misguided efforts to eradicate Deaf culture.’

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Science

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‘In this thoughtful biography, Booth reexamines the historical legacy of Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone. Booth acknowledges Bell’s role in helping people communicate, but she does not shy away from his complicated legacy within the Deaf community … A stunning biography that documents the Deaf people’s lengthy and ongoing efforts to have ASL acknowledged as a valid language. Booth's writing stands apart and sheds insight on disability history in the 20th century.’

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Jessica Bushore, Library Journal

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‘[C]areful and balanced … Booth explores the progression of Bell’s career with compassion and nuance, eliding neither his good intentions nor the lasting harm that his emphasis on orality wrought on generations of D/deaf students.’

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Jenny Hamilton, Booklist

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‘Booth vigorously revises the historical record … Booth reveals a rich history of heights and depths in The Invention of Miracles, including the questionable patent process that secured Bell’s name in history, the evolution and empowerment of the Deaf community, and Bell’s endearing marriage, which survived his own misguided intentions.’

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Priscilla Kipp, BookPage

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‘Katie Booth’s brave and absorbing book is the story of a contradictory genius whose inventiveness outstripped his compassion… Booth’s style is highly poetic, even moving … [and] so scrupulously researched you feel like you’re walking alongside the inventor as he strides the Scottish moors or looking over his shoulder as he researches the qualities of different kinds of current in his Boston home.’

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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‘Fascinating. The Invention of Miracles tells the story of how Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone was intertwined with his sincere but misguided passion for teaching the deaf how to speak. It’s a tale of great love, brilliant innovation, personal drama, and the unintended consequences of good intentions.’

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Walter Isaacson #1 <em>New York Times</em> bestselling author of <em>Leonardo da Vinci</em> and <em>

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‘Meticulously researched, crackling with insights, and rich in novelistic detail, The Invention of Miracles is more than the revelatory biography of an inventor who transformed the world. By shining a bright light on society’s assumptions about disability, Booth’s book is a profound and lyrical meditation on what it means to be human.’

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Steve Silberman, author, <i>NeuroTribes: the legacy of autism and the future of neurodiversity</i>

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‘A provocative, sensitive, beautifully written biography of an American genius.’

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Sylvia Nasar, #1 <i>New York Times</i> bestselling author of <i>A Beautiful Mind</i>

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‘Booth examines some of our society’s root causes of ableism, and the hearing world’s discrimination against D/deaf people, by giving us a testimony of her Deaf grandmother and linking the discrimination she suffered to the history of Alexander Graham Bell and the propaganda of his oralist teachings, much of which still harms many Deaf and non-verbal people to this day. The Invention of Miracles is a powerful revisionist text, at once personal, historical, and insightful. As someone born deaf with hearing parents, I think I would have benefitted from being born into a world where ableist attitudes were rooted out and understood the way Booth demonstrates here.’

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Raymond Antrobus, author of <i>The Perseverance</i>

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‘Shifting seamlessly between Bell’s professional and personal life, The Invention of Miracles is infused with a marked intimacy due to Booth’s novelistic eye and the way she fine-tunes her antenna to the minutiae of Bell’s life.’

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Brendan Daly, Irish Examiner

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‘Researched and written through the Deaf perspective, Katie Booth’s The Invention of Miracles is a compelling biography of Alexander Graham Bell, whose lifelong devotion to Deaf education became overshadowed by his harmful promotion of oralism and left a legacy of bruised hands through generations of Deaf people. This is marvellously engaging history that will have us rethinking the invention of the telephone.’

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Jaipreet Virdi, historian and author of <i>Hearing Happiness: deafness cures in history</i>

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‘An urgent, provocative, and powerful book. I could never have imagined that eugenics and the telephone were so intimately related. The Invention of Miracles is a timely reminder of the flawed humanity that lies behind so much of our technological innovation.’

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Michael Brooks, author of <i>The Quantum Astrologer’s Handbook</i>

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‘A meticulously researched and beautifully told story about the power of language and culture and the costs of scientific single-mindedness.’

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Gina Perry, author of <i>The Lost Boys</i>

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‘Booth does a masterful job weaving this powerful and compelling story, a narrative about fear and obsessive fascination with difference in this wonderful book.’

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Brian Greenwald, professor of history at Gallaudet University & co-editor of <i>In Our Own Hands: es

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‘[A]n impassioned and scrupulously researched account of inventor Alexander Graham Bell’s fraught legacy within the deaf community … Enriched with vivid sketches of Bell's wife, Mabel Hubbard, and other historical figures, including Helen Keller, this revelatory history deserves a wide readership.’

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Publishers Weekly

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‘Booth, a hearing author who was raised in a mixed hearing/deaf family, expands the picture with a respectful yet critical biography that draws on scholarly research and her years of communicating with deaf relatives through signing … She also links his work to the continuing “institutional oppression” of the deaf … this ardent book is likely to reignite debates over what constitutes justice for the Deaf community. A well-written biography reveals less-familiar aspects of the life of the famed inventor.’

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Kirkus Reviews

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‘A 400-page volume of superb scholarship.’

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Nevil Gibson, NBR

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‘Revelatory.’

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Susan Mansfield, Scotland on Sunday

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‘Through The Invention of Miracles Katie Booth has introduced me to a whole new world, not just literally but conceptually. In her sympathetic but critical biography of Alexander Graham Bell, she explores the history of power and voice, she exposes the tyranny of the “normal”, and she demonstrates the importance of listening not just speaking. A scholarly and lively biography revealing how a man who spent a life devoted to “liberating” deaf people ended up as one of their greatest enemies.’

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Mary Hoban, author of <i>An Unconventional Wife</i>

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‘This is a comprehensive biography of a great man. The author admires his work but does not hold back from strong criticism of his ideas on the deaf.’

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Frank O'Shea, The Canberra Times

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