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

4.7 out of 5 stars 350 ratings
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ISBN-13: 978-0375507397
ISBN-10: 0375507396
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[Empires of Light] provides a wealth of colorful anecdotes and fascinating detail.”
—The Washington Post Book World

“A rollicking story of competitive zeal . . . [the book] delivers richly on its promise: chronicling a vital stage of American progress as seen through the lives of three mavericks.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“Entertaining and informative . . . a lively account of how personal ambitions and hostilities fueled the interaction between science and business during the long War of the Electric Currents.”
—The Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Jonnes does a fine job portraying these men against the historical background of the Gilded Age in this engaging, well-documented volume.”
—Chicago Tribune

“[Jill Jonnes] brings [Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse] to life through cumulative biographical detail.”
—Boston Sunday Globe

“A crackerjack account of the race for electrification . . . [Empires of Light] is a story of the collision of business and technology, and Jonnes tells it well.”
—San Francisco Chronicle (Best Books of 2003)

“The electrons fairly leap as Jonnes personifies that high-voltage history with a three-wired account.”
—Johns Hopkins Magazine

“Jonnes re-creates this venomous rivalry in a delightful book that may remind readers of E.L. Doctorow’s novel Ragtime. . . . but Empires of Light is no fiction; it’s a meticulously researched narrative in which famous people go baying after an elusive goal: to power cities by harnessing a hidden force wrested from the atmosphere.”
—Discover

“With Empires of Light, Jill Jonnes joins the genre of academicians who truly document for the nation’s collective memory the significant struggles that led to commonplace conveniences of today.”
—The Baltimore Sun

“[Empires of Light] moves seamlessly back and forth in time. . . . Jonnes is a fine biographer and an excellent scientific and industrial historian. She’s done a superb job of telling an important story.”
—Rocky Mountain News

“Fascinating.”
—The Buffalo News

“Jonnes’s book makes us think about the dramatic changes electricity brought.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Compelling . . .Jill Jonnes has delivered an absorbing tale about the advent of the power grid.”
—The San Diego Union-Tribune

“Jonnes lucidly lays out the technical issues, playing plenty of attention to the personalities involved to liven things up for the general reader.”
—Newsday.com

“Jill Jonnes’s Empires of Light is the most exciting science/business adventure to come out in the past decade. Once she gets past the initial discoveries of the properties of electricity, her brilliant storytelling pulls the reader into a gripping, real-life turn-of-the-century tale full of twists, turns, ironies, dirty tricks, breakthrough challenges, accomplishments, tragedies and triumphs.”
—Houston Chronicle

“An amazing book, one so entertaining that i treads almost like a novel . . . a powerful narrative that captures the tension of a time long gone.”
—San Jose Mercury News

“Thoughtful and well paced.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Jonnes serves up plenty of color in an engaging and relaxed style.”
—Publishers Weekly

“A very accessible and informative historical account that will be fascinating reading for a general audience as well as those with a more specialized interest.”
Booklist

“Compelling . . . Like the late Stephen Ambrose, historian Jill Jonnes paints her story with a broad canvas and populates it with titans.”
—BookPage

“A thoroughly engaging and highly informative account of three inventors who pioneered the production and distribution of electricity. Without these three engineers the world would simply not be what we know today.”
—Henry Petroski, author of The Evolution of Useful Things

“Jill Jonnes’ Empires of Light is the captivating—no, let’s say electrifying—saga of the War of the Electric Currents fought at the close of the nineteenth century with typical Gilded Age excess by Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse. From the electrification of J. P. Morgan’s New York mansion to Westinghouse’s subjugation of Niagara Falls, Jonnes explains in human terms how alternating current achieved dominance over direct current, a victory of incalculable importance in the history of the world—and she tells the story with great, at times even macabre, verve, as in her account of the invention of the electric chair and its horrifying first use. Along the way she solves numerous little mysteries of electric power, among them why Broadway became nicknamed ‘The Great White Way.’ ”
—Erik Larson, author of In the Garden of Beasts and The Devil in the White City

Empires of Light is a fascinating and vivid portrait of a tumultuous era. In a fast-paced narrative, Jill Jonnes recreates the personalities, technologies, and corporate intrigues that changed America by—literally—electrifying the nation.”
—Lauren Belfer, author of City of Light

About the Author

Jill Jonnes is a historian and the author of Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World and South Bronx Rising: The Rise, Fall & Resurrection of an American City. She has also been an NEH scholar and has received several grants from the Ford Foundation.



Chris Sorensen is the AudioFile Earphones Award-winning narrator of Brian Lies' Bats at the Beach, Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin, and Margaret Peterson Haddix's Sent. Other narrations include Patricia Wood's Lottery and Jodi Picoult's Songs of the Humpback Whale, among many others.

--This text refers to the audioCD edition.

Product details

  • ASIN : B000FBJDA2
  • Publisher : Random House (August 19, 2003)
  • Publication date : August 19, 2003
  • Language : English
  • File size : 4859 KB
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Not Enabled
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print length : 464 pages
  • Lending : Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 350 ratings

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
350 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on February 14, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States on July 18, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on January 28, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on September 3, 2019
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Top reviews from other countries

Lazy Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant perspective on how modern electricity came about
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 3, 2020
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 4, 2019
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Bondi_Dan
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read !
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 1, 2018
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Miguel Figueiredo
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting material, but poorly laid out
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 27, 2012
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3 people found this helpful
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Turner2
5.0 out of 5 stars Electric History and Intrigue
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 31, 2012
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