Nearly 140 years ago, in frontier California, photographer Eadweard Muybridge captured time with his camera and played it back on a flickering screen, inventing the breakthrough technology of moving pictures. Yet the visionary inventor Muybridge was also a murderer who killed coolly and meticulously, and his trial became a national sensation. Despite Muybridge’s crime, the artist’s patron, railroad tycoon Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University, hired the photographer to answer the question of whether the four hooves of a running horse ever left the ground all at once—and together these two unlikely men launched the age of visual media. National Book Award-winner Edward Ball has written a riveting true-crime tale of the partnership between the murderer who invented the movies and the robber baron who built the railroads, and puts on display the virtues and vices of the great American West.
“[A] remarkable story of the alliance between the eccentric inventor of the motion picture and the mogul who built the nation’s rails. It is a story that, for all its whirling parts and divagations, tells us a great deal about the crossroads of money and art in America. What is most interesting about this book is the making of an astonishing artist, the marvelous photographs that attest to his genius, the rousing good yarn at the nexus of industry and art.”
—The Washington Post
Edward Ball is the author of several books of history and biography, including the bestselling National Book Award-winning Slaves in the Family. Born and raised in the South, he lives in Connecticut and teaches at Yale University.