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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Code Name Ginger: The Story Behind Segway and Dean Kamen's Quest to Invent a New World by Steve Kemper ( Harvard Business School Press)

"It's going to change the world."- Dean Kamen

They came from across the country and from the lab down the hall. Some left behind lucrative jobs, some moved their families. Each hand-picked engineer was drawn by the same irresistible lure: the chance to work with a brilliant, eccentric inventor on a secret project. Dean Kamen was already a millionaire with an impressive list of medical inventions to his name, but none of them had excited him like his newest world-changer. Extraordinary things were happening inside his New Hampshire laboratory, things no one could find out about – at least not yet.

This is the unforgettable story of "Ginger," officially named the Segway Human Transporter: a self-balancing, electric-powered people mover that Kamen called "magic sneakers." With the pacing and excitement of a suspense novel, Code Name Ginger documents the birth of a marvelous new technology and the feats of its remarkable inventor, his team of engineers, and the financiers who pursued them.

Steve Kemper was the only journalist granted complete access to the Ginger project as the machine was designed, prototyped, and readied for manufacture. He takes us inside a world of ingenious engineering, in which improbable ideas become real: wheelchairs climb stairs, scooters balance on two wheels, polluted water is made clean. He reveals Kamen as few have seen him: in the heat of invention, racing against time, caught between his idealistic beliefs and his obsession to make Ginger a commercial success. He chronicles the wheeling and dealing of high-rolling investors and New Economy kingpins from John Doerr to Steve Jobs. He records the endless delays and the venture capital feeding frenzy. And he delivers vital business lessons about leadership, entrepreneurship, marketing, and innovation while recounting a technological adventure that will be studied and argued about for decades.

For anyone who has ever wondered what it was like inside Thomas Edison's lab or the Wright Brothers' garage, here is the twenty-first century equivalent. Step inside Dean Kamen's laboratory and discover the thrills and risks of invention. The Segway's story, Code Name Ginger, like the machine itself, is appreciated best by climbing aboard and taking a ride.

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