Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World (Google eBook)

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Random House Publishing Group, Aug 19, 2003 - History - 416 pages
62 Reviews
In the final decades of the nineteenth century, three brilliant and visionary titans of America’s Gilded Age—Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse—battled bitterly as each vied to create a vast and powerful electrical empire. In Empires of Light, historian Jill Jonnes portrays this extraordinary trio and their riveting and ruthless world of cutting-edge science, invention, intrigue, money, death, and hard-eyed Wall Street millionaires. At the heart of the story are Thomas Alva Edison, the nation’s most famous and folksy inventor, creator of the incandescent light bulb and mastermind of the world’s first direct current electrical light networks; the Serbian wizard of invention Nikola Tesla, elegant, highly eccentric, a dreamer who revolutionized the generation and delivery of electricity; and the charismatic George Westinghouse, Pittsburgh inventor and tough corporate entrepreneur, an industrial idealist who in the era of gaslight imagined a world powered by cheap and plentiful electricity and worked heart and soul to create it.

Edison struggled to introduce his radical new direct current (DC) technology into the hurly-burly of New York City as Tesla and Westinghouse challenged his dominance with their alternating current (AC), thus setting the stage for one of the eeriest feuds in American corporate history, the War of the Electric Currents. The battlegrounds: Wall Street, the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Niagara Falls, and, finally, the death chamber—Jonnes takes us on the tense walk down a prison hallway and into the sunlit room where William Kemmler, convicted ax murderer, became the first man to die in the electric chair.

Empires of Light is the gripping history of electricity, the “mysterious fluid,” and how the fateful collision of Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse left the world utterly transformed.


From the Hardcover edition.
  

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A very well researched and written historical novel. - Goodreads
Material is easy to read. - Goodreads
And the writing is fairly engaging. - Goodreads
That said, I loved this introductory overview. - Goodreads
The book was well-researched and not overly technical. - Goodreads

Review: Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World

User Review  - David - Goodreads

Very interesting book. I had no idea that Westinghouse was such a player in the introduction of electricity to the world. I knew of Tesla, but didn't know much until I read this book. The story about how the world was truly transformed is remarkable and this book is very well-written. Read full review

Review: Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World

User Review  - Evan - Goodreads

Interesting detail, but too little information in too many pages. The best stuff was on how businesses were designed and fought each other, but Jonnes had a tendency to play up drama that didn't amount to much. Read full review

Contents

List of Scientific Diagrams
Endeavor to Make It Useful
The Wizard of Menlo Park
Our Parisian
He Is Ubiquitous
Edison Declares
Constant Danger from Sudden Death
The Horrible Experiment
The Electricians Ideal City
What a Fall of BrightGreen Water
Yoked to the Cataract
Afterward
Notes
Acknowledgments
About the Author
Copyright

Fear Everywhere of Worse to Come

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About the author (2003)

Jill Jonnes is an author and historian with a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. She has received awards from the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is the author of South Bronx Rising and Hep-Cats, Narcs, and Pipe Dreams. She lives with her family in Baltimore, Maryland.

Please visit www.empiresoflight.com


From the Hardcover edition.

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