The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell's Secret - Seth Shulman 

W.W. Norton & Co.

Hold the phone "? what do you mean Alexander Graham Bell didn't invent it?

Yep: What you learned in elementary school was a flat-out lie, according to journalist Seth Shulman. His new book, "The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell's Secret," exposes how the inventor swiped the core idea from one Elisha Gray, beat him to a patent and essentially took credit for one of the most revolutionary and important creations of all time.

"Gambit" reads like a first-person procedural, with the author "? an admitted Bell aficionado "? accidentally stumbling onto the truth in 2004 while researching the inventor's notebooks and noting a "sudden conceptual leap" that went unexplained. A single rather unsatisfactory line led Shulman to dig, and his findings "? hard to dispute, given all the evidence reproduced, including letters, diagrams and patent applications "? cast Bell in a light about as sweet as a "robocall."

Like the recent "The Ghost Map," this nonfiction book works equally well as a fascinating slice of American history as it does as a piece of detective fiction, except that it's all real, thereby upping the excitement. It also shows that business hasn't changed so much over the decades, with ethics continually and conveniently pushed aside when one stands to reap significant rewards by screwing someone else over.

"?Rod Lott

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