A revelatory revisionist biography of Alexander Graham Bell — renowned inventor of the telephone and hated enemy of the Deaf community.
When Alexander Graham Bell first unveiled his telephone to the world, it was considered miraculous. But few people know that it was inspired by another supposed miracle: his work teaching the deaf to speak. The son of one deaf woman and husband to another, he was motivated by a desire to empower deaf people by integrating them into the hearing world, but he ended up becoming their most powerful enemy, waging a war against Sign Language and Deaf culture that still rages today.
The Invention of Miracles tells the dual stories of Bell’s remarkable, world-changing invention and his dangerous ethnocide of Deaf culture and language. It also charts the rise of Deaf activism and tells the triumphant tale of a community reclaiming a once-forbidden language.
Inspired by her mixed hearing/Deaf family, Katie Booth has researched this story for over a decade, poring over Bell’s papers, Library of Congress archives, and the records of deaf schools around America. Witnessing the damaging impact of Bell’s legacy on her family set her on a path that upturned everything she thought she knew about language, power, deafness, and technology.