For many years, a number of Tesla nerds sought his secret particle beam weaponry papers which the War Department had apparently obtained right after he died in 1943. In 1984, Andrija Puharich's name emerged yet again when it was announced by the International Tesla Society, that Puharich would be discussing these very secret documents at the first American International Tesla Conference to be held in Colorado Springs, the site of Tesla's 1899 Experimental Station. I also submitted a paper, and flew out to Colorado that summer to present it.

    Sure enough, Puharich had the actual secret patent application, and authentic drawings of the weapon, which had been squirreled to him by one of the men from military intelligence who had interviewed Tesla during the last weeks and months of his life over 40 years before. This individual had sat on the copy all this time before releasing it to the Psychotronic Society, where Puharich got a hold of it.

    Over the next 12 years, as I worked to hone a comprehensive chronology of Tesla's life, I continued to obtain relevant books and articles, as I also spoke at each Tesla symposium held every other year in Colorado Springs. Simultaneously, I submitted and presented papers in Europe at the Tesla conferences held in Yugoslavia and at handwriting symposia in Canada and Israel.

    In 1986, I travelled to Zagreb and to Belgrade where the Tesla Museum resides and also to Smiljan, Croatia, the site of the inventor's birth place. During that trip, I obtained access to information on Tesla's work in vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. For the first time, I saw strange drawings of unusual vehicles, reactive jet dirigibles and hovercraft and also combination helicopter/airplanes (that I had seen earlier) that the inventor designed. Clearly, as I explain in WIZARD, Tesla is one of the forefathers of both the Harrier jet, which can hover and take off vertically, and the Osprey helicopter-airplane which was used so successfully in the recent war with Iraq.

    Also in Belgrade, I studied the correspondence with financiers such as Thomas Fortune Ryan and John Jacob Astor and also analyzed the letters between Tesla and his editor Thomas Commerford Martin, editor of the classic compendium The Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla, which was published in 1893.

    I travelled to Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley to look over the papers of Stanford White, Katharine Johnson, Mark Twain and Julian Hawthorne, to Washington D.C. and the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Institute where large Tesla holdings are, to Butler and Avery Libraries at Columbia University to read Tesla's correspondence with Robert Johnson and also Stanford White, to the Edison Archives in Menlo Park, New Jersey and up to the Hammond Castle, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, home of John Hayes Hammond Jr., an inventor who worked on guided weaponry systems who worked with Tesla during the years 1912-13; and also, I used the Freedom of Information Act to peruse the National Archives and the archives of the FBI and Office of Alien Property.

    I also interviewed Tesla's grandnephew William Terbo who met Tesla when he was a child, the illustrious lawyer Elmer Gertz, who defended Jack Ruby and Nathan Leopold during his long career, who met Tesla in the 1930's, and Ralph Bergstressor, a man who had worked for military intelligence during WWII who had been briefed by Tesla about his particle beam weapon, while the 85-year-old inventor sat in his New Yorker apartment barely alive in late 1942. I also met with numerous Tesla experts such as Leland Anderson a Teslafile and author of important Tesla works since the 1950's, Robert Golka, who built a gigantic Tesla coil in Utah in the 1970's and Col. Tom Bearden, who saw military potential to many of Tesla's inventions.

    On a lark I wrote to the University of Prague, and was fortunate enough to obtain Tesla's course load for the year he was there, and by that route found out that he was most likely influenced by the famous physicist Ernst Mach, who was teaching physics there, whose work also influenced Albert Einstein.

    In the late 1980's, as I continued to complete a careful chronology, I also formed a partnership with Tim Eaton, a visual FX editor at Industrial Light & Magic, with the hopes of selling a screenplay. For the 1996 Colorado Springs Tesla Symposium, which would be my seventh presentation there, I decided to review the scope of my entire 20-year journey.

WIZARD: THE LIFE & TIMES OF NIKOLA TESLA has been called the definitive biography on the inventor's fantastic life. The story begins with Tesla's heritage, follows childhood and early life through his school years in Graz and Budapest to his first jobs in Europe and then to his acclaimed work in America.

PUBLISHER: Citadel Press 540 pages illustrations, index $19.95


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