ABOUT THE BOOK:
A thrilling novel based on actual events, about the nature of genius, the cost of ambition, and the battle to electrify America—from the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game and New York Times bestselling author of The Sherlockian
New York, 1888. Gas lamps still flicker in the city streets, but the miracle of electric light is in its infancy. The person who controls the means to turn night into day will make history—and a vast fortune. A young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul’s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country?
The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society—the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions, and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing him is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal—private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown lawyer shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it?
In obsessive pursuit of victory, Paul crosses paths with Nikola Tesla, an eccentric, brilliant inventor who may hold the key to defeating Edison, and with Agnes Huntington, a beautiful opera singer who proves to be a flawless performer on stage and off. As Paul takes greater and greater risks, he’ll find that everyone in his path is playing their own game, and no one is quite who they seem.
LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:
The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore is a 2016 Random House publication.
I have been on a wait list for this book, I kid you not, for FOUR MONTHS!!
So, the big question is-
Was it worth the wait? YES! WOW! Who knew light bulbs were so fascinating?
This is a fictional account of the ‘war’ between Thomas Edison / General Electric and George Westinghouse over patent rights, inventions, and the law. It’s also a novel about genius, competitiveness, obsession and madness.
All the major characters in the book were actual people, and most of the events described really took place, only maybe not in the same particular sequence, which made the story even more fascinating and authentic.
The quotes used at the beginning of each chapter are amazing, and the author was especially clever in choosing quotes from Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, who were also fierce competitors.
Paul Cravath is hired by George Westinghouse to plead his patent dispute over who invented the light bulb pitting him against Thomas Edison, who got the patent first. Paul is inexperienced, idealistic, still has a strong moral code, and is of course way out of his depth.
Paul also finds himself falling in love with a famous singer, Agnes Huntington, who will become his inspiration for all he does and is instrumental in helping Nikola Telsa during a dark and confusing time.
Nikola Telsa envelops every corner of the story, and his presence is haunting and poignant. Despite his character playing more of a secondary part, he is still larger than life.
The ‘politics’ of patent law, the drive to win at all costs, the toll it takes on one’s conscience, ideals, and innocence, teaches Paul some valuable life lessons. The challenges inventors and innovators face, the cut throat competition, the public perceptions, and even the sacrifice of convictions, all made for money, for power,or for the sake of winning, is an eye-opening journey.
I was endlessly impressed with the sharp minds of Edison and Westinghouse, the machinations of J.P. Morgan and of course the genius of Telsa, even if I didn’t really like the way they did things and questioned their motives and moral fiber on many occasions.
The twists come fast and furious, and the emotions run high as the suspense builds in this high-stakes drama.
Paul learns a lot about himself in the end, as much as he learns about life, and I was pleased that he used this experience as lesson, a teaching moment, and did not allow it to poison his heart, but instead led him to seek out loftier goals.
This book is informative, very interesting, and completely absorbing. The only problem was that it had to end, and it ended all too soon.
The writing is exceptional, the history is amazingly detailed and very well researched and constructed, especially since there was were so many major events packed into a much shorter span of time than they actually unfolded in real life. I intend to add the books the author suggested to my reading list to get a more detailed non-fictional accounting of these events as well.
After reading this book, I realize how spectacular the light bulb is. Other than when I'm trying to choose an energy efficienct bulb, I never give them much thought, much less ponder on how it all works in the first place.
I don't think I will flippantly flick on light switch again!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Graham Moore is a New York Times bestselling novelist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter. His screenplay for THE IMITATION GAME won the Academy Award and WGA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2015 and was nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. The film, directed by Morten Tyldum and starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, received 8 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.
Graham's first novel, THE SHERLOCKIAN (2010), was published in 16 countries and translated into 13 languages. It was called "sublime" and "clever" and "delightful" by the New York Times, "savvy" and "entertaining" by the Los Angeles Times, and lots of other nice things as well. Graham's second novel, THE LAST DAYS OF NIGHT will be published in fall 2016 by Random House.
Graham lives in Los Angeles.