- File Size: 4859 KB
- Print Length: 464 pages
- Publisher: Random House (August 19, 2003)
- Publication Date: August 19, 2003
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000FBJDA2
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,286 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World Kindle Edition
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- Length: 464 pages
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
- Page Flip: Enabled
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—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.”
“[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.”
“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
—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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Jonnes serves up plenty of color in an engaging and relaxed style.”
“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.”
“Compelling . . . Like the late Stephen Ambrose, historian Jill Jonnes paints her story with a broad canvas and populates it with titans.”
“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
Chris Sorensen is a veteran audiobook narrator with over 160 titles to his name. He has received three AudioFile Earphones Awards, and his recording of Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix was selected as one of the Best Audiobooks of 2010 by AudioFile magazine. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA and the APA. --This text refers to the audioCD edition.
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Disappointed because author Jill Jonnes picked a topic that should have been a sure thing. She obviously immersed herself in the lives of Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse and knows the science at least well enough to write about it.
The problem with this book boils down to the author. The writing, book organization, and length are dreadful. First, the organization. It helps with a non-fiction book like this one to organize either chronologically (my preference) or thematically. This one is all over the place and it makes it very hard to follow. Next, the writing. Its tortuous. Jonnes seems to believe more is always better than less. This applies specifically to adjectives, but also to word count in general. We also endure repeated character descriptions (i.e. J.P. Morgan's large nose...). We take turns down bunny trails. A few tie into the story, but a number have nothing to do with the story (for example, a scandal about Rev. Charles Parkhurst - no relation to the story). I eventually came to the conclusion that we get heavy doses of book filler. Which makes the final point. The book is too long. I don't mean to be harsh, this story had (has) high promise. A good editor maybe could have helped turn this into a very good interesting book. It just didn't happen.
If you had to compare Westinghouse to someone in 2016 it would be Jeff Bezos. Westinghouse valued innovation and people above profits. The other two men are equally amazing characters and make this a fascinating read.
Jill Jonnes did an amazing job. The research seems REALLY detailed. And since most of the players are gone, I'm sure she had to read VOLUMES of newspapers and books to get this amount of detail.
It's an amazing chronicle of the early days of how electricity became a part of our everyday lives. What's really amazing is how much Nikola Tesla created to really become the architect of our modern day electrical grid. If you're interested in inventors and inventing, you'll love this book.
As a kid, I knew nothing about Tesla. I lived close to many of the places chronicled in this book (Edison's lab and home were in West Orange, NJ where I was raised) and used to visit the Edison National Historic site often. My grandfather actually worked for Thomas Edison and met the man (actually they called him "the old man") on a few occations.
So as a child, Edison was my hero. As an adult I still admired Edison and his tenacity, but Tesla was really a genius. He saw the universe in a really unique way. That info is VERY clear in this book without any opinion from Jill Jonnes.
I understand there's a movie underway chronicling the events in this book.
Although I'm not sure it's really an adaptation of this book.
I loved it. I was sad when I finished it.
btw....I'm a fine artist and I drew the attached portrait of Tesla....on an iPad.
Another great book by this authour is "Conquering Gotham" which is about the building of Penn Station in New York and the tunnels under the Hudson and East Rivers. She really does her homework and I think anyone interested in engineering will find both books very interesting.
Although reading Empires of Light: Edison, Teslar, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World, by Jill Jonnes was a bit of a slog at times, its wealth of interesting anecdotes and solid information makes it a four-star read. From Thomas Edison’s promotion of his competitor’s, George Westinghouse’s, high-voltage AC current for the electric chair (for its negative publicity value), to the building of the huge turbines for the first hydro-electric installation at Niagara Falls, to the amazing electric dreams of Nikola Tesla—there’s plenty here to spark the imagination.
Recommendation: For keen insights into the dawn of the age, and of the business of electricity, this is an excellent place to start.
“Great indeed are the powers of electricity.” (Kindle Location 5681)
Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 7,512 Kindle Locations, 464 pages.
In this age, where America sat at the dawn of a new century, it was American ingenuity that led the way in the creation of a new industry and an entirely new way of life.
This story is well told by the author and it is well worth the time looking back at a time when America was full of possibilities.
Top international reviews
However, the author seems to have not made a clear decision between writing objectively or subjectively. The book is full of
speculative sentences that can be irritating after a while. Namely, the constant use of the word "lovely", which annoyed me a bit.
There are also some technical inaccuracies that should be looked at for a future edition.
But overall, It will inform you a lot!
A quien quiera entender cómo ha revolucionado nuestra vida la electricidad y en modo más general cómo la cambian las nuevas tecnologías, le brindará datos imprescindibles escritos en un estilo atractivo.
There are some detailed descriptions about the lives of the big inventors and businessmen of that time: Westinghouse, Edison, Tesla and other again.
Sometimes it's a bit confusing in the timeline of the story but in the complex it is a very well-written book!
Congrats Jill Jones.