On June 5, 1944 Franklin Roosevelt gave a speech announcing the fall of Rome to Allied forces. In it, he sought to distinguish Benito Mussolini and his supporters from the rest of the Italian people, and he lauded the contributions Italians made to civilization. Among the names of great Italians he mentioned was that of Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor who won a Nobel Prize for his contributions to the development of radio technology. It was a reflection of the stature he possessed as a Nobel laureate whose name was synonymous with the dominant communications medium of the era.
One of the great achievements of Marc Raboy's book is in conveying the many facets of Marconi's life, one that was lived, often simultaneously, in the worlds of science, business, and politics. The son of a well-to-do Italian landowner and his Irish wife, Marconi developed an early interest in science. Interested in the recently-announced discovery of "Hertzian waves," he experimented with using them for wireless communication, and in his early twenties he succeeded. Moving to England, he soon became an international celebrity with the demonstration of his device, and he soon launched a company that at one point threatened to establish a monopoly on usage of the airwaves. within a few short years Marconi was an international celebrity, one whose name was synonymous with progress. This would be later exploited by Mussolini, who roped a willing Marconi into supporting his Fascist regime.
Benefiting from the release of some previously unavailable papers, Raboy succeeds in providing a comprehensive life of Marconi set withing the context of his age. It's a considerably rich book, full of details of Marconi's inventions and his business activities, yet one that manages to remain remarkably readable as well. It is difficult to imagine that Raboy's life of Marconi will be bettered -- though if it is, it would have to be by a truly remarkable book.