Book Review: The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

The lines were drawn. Everyone would have to choose a side. Everyone would join a network. Networks of light. Networks of people. Networks of power. Networks of money.

Bringing together some of history’s most well known scientific inventors – Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, George Westinghouse and one important, though largely unknown, lawyer, Paul Cravath, Graham Moore crafts a gripping tale of the controversy surrounding the invention of the light bulb and the electrification of America.

Electricity was unruly. It was not like kerosene or shale oil, natural elements created by God and crafted by man for his purposes. Electricity was a force. Taming electrical current would be like bending gravity to man’s will. Like traveling through time. There were some things in this world with which not even science could mess about.

Based on historical events, though compressed and rearranged for the sake of coherency and artistry, The Last Days of Night chronicles the legal battle known at the “War of the Currents”. Paul Cravath, fresh out of law school, is hired to represent George Westinghouse against Thomas Edison in a patent suit to the tune of 1 billion dollars. Edison accuses Westinghouse of infringement upon his patent for the invention of the first and, in his opinion, only light bulb.

If the patent held, no one but Edison could manufacture and sell incandescent bulbs within the United States. If Paul could not break the patent claim, Thomas Edison would have a monopoly on light itself.

Cravath is put to the test when the behemoths, Edison and Westinghouse, throw their weight around in the attempt to out pace the other. When his inexperience shows in a moment of weakness that threatens to bankrupt his client, Cravath must dig deep within himself to prove he is up to the task.

Paul mediated the wars of men who devoted their lives to creating things from thin air. But such different things! Westinghouse created objects. Tesla created ideas. While Edison, a few miles away, was busy creating an empire.

What follows is a battle of power, ambition and pride that threatens to turn dangerous. Each character must learn what price they are willing to pay for recognition and success. Who will come out on top and to what lengths will they go to get there?

“Electricity arises from nowhere,” said Tesla. “Everywhere. The air everywhere and all around. It is not created. It is harnessed.” “Like a horse?” asked White as the crowd laughed. “Like the strength of steam,” said Tesla. “From where does water come? It does not. It is. Then men learned to heat it. And to direct the clouds of air that flew up above the hot water…” He clapped his hands. “There you have it! Power.”

Read voraciously,

Thoughts?

Intrigued? Buy the book here:

The Last Days of Night


by Moore, GrahamHardcover

Powells.com

An advanced reading copy of this title was provided by Random House via Netgalley.

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

  1. As my grandfather worked for Mr. Edison (albeit in the interest of Edison’s horticultural work, rather than in terms of his electrical interests), I always had an interest in Edison’s work. I never considered the competitions he underwent regarding them.

    This book will find its way onto my “check out or purchase” list.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks 😀 I’ve pretty much loved my life because I was always interested in even the most mundane of our history – warts and all…now my kids and grands (and now you!) get the entertainment of it all as well!

        Liked by 1 person

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