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The Last Days of Night: A Novel Hardcover – August 16, 2016
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An Amazon Best Book of August 2016: Great inventors take the stage in this historical fiction/legal thriller based on the lighting of New York City in the 1890s. The story is told by Paul Cravath, an attorney hired by George Westinghouse to take on Thomas Edison in a battle over lightbulb patents. The setup may sound dry, but Graham’s pacing keeps the story driving forward. There are crimes. There’s a mysterious woman. There’s a mad genius in the form of Nikola Tesla. And it’s all sets against the backdrop of the glittering Gilded Age. Every so often an historical fiction comes along that captures the imaginations of legions of readers. The Last Days of Night will join that elite group of novels. —Chris Schluep, The Amazon Book Review
“A satisfying romp . . . Takes place against a backdrop rich with period detail . . . Works wonderfully as an entertainment . . . As it charges forward, the novel leaves no dot unconnected.”—Noah Hawley, The New York Times Book Review
“This captivating historical novel illuminates a fascinating American moment.”—People
“A fascinating portrait of American inventors . . . Moore crafts a compelling narrative out of [Paul] Cravath’s cunning legal maneuvers and [Nikola] Tesla’s world-changing tinkering, while a story line on opera singer Agnes Huntington has the mysterious glamour of The Great Gatsby. . . . Moore weaves a complex web. . . . He conjures Gilded Age New York City so vividly, it feels like only yesterday.”—Entertainment Weekly
“A model of superior historical fiction . . . Graham Moore digs deep into long-forgotten facts to give us an exciting, sometimes astonishing story of two geniuses locked in a brutal battle to change the world. . . . [A] brilliant journey into the past.”—The Washington Post
“Devil in the White City fans, you'll adore this one. . . . Secret societies, private spites, vast fortunes—this book has it all. But the way all its stories fit together at the end will make you realize that everyone was playing their own game all along. But of course, only one will win.”—Refinery 29
“A marvelous legal thriller set in a magical time when inventions were truly wonders, [Moore] knows how to grab your attention and not let go. . . . This is historical fiction at its very best. . . . The Last Days of Night is just as crackling as the electricity at its very core.”—Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
“Moore’s writing is sharp and as energized as his topic. . . . This is a riveting book that will hold your attention and will illuminate many on the birth of light in America. Part legal thriller, part romance, injected with a history lesson. Worth the read.”—Historical Novel Society
“Mesmerizing, clever, and absolutely crackling, The Last Days of Night is a triumph of imagination. Graham Moore has chosen Gilded Age New York as his playground, with outsized characters—Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse—as his players. The result is a beautifully researched, endlessly entertaining novel that will leave you buzzing.”—Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
“In The Last Days of Night, Graham Moore takes us back to the dawn of light—electric light—into a world of invention and skulduggery, populated by the likes of Edison, Westinghouse, Tesla, and the novel’s hero, a young lawyer named Paul Cravath (a name that will resonate with ambitious law students everywhere). It’s part legal thriller, part tour of a magical time—the age of wonder—and once you’ve finished it, you’ll find it hard to return to the world of now.”—Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City
“The Last Days of Night is a wonder, a riveting historical novel that is part legal thriller, part techno-suspense. This fast-paced story about the personal and legal clash over the invention of the light bulb is a tale of larger-than-life characters and devious doings, and a significant meditation on the price we as a society pay for new technology. . . . Thoughtful and hugely entertaining.”—Scott Turow
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is an easy read. The author sticks to a bread-and-butter style, with few adjectives or adverbs, that might even be called pedestrian. He does have an irritating habit of closing chapters with portentous remarks about what the next chapter will bring, in a clumsy effort to create suspense. The efforts to create psychological depth in the main character, Paul Cravath, also seemed a little pedestrian.
Overall, it was an enjoyable entertainment, decent historical fiction, not at all taxing of one's mental energy.
The plot revolves around three main historical characters: Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla. The inventor, the businessman, and the genius. All three men were primary warriors in what became known as the “current war”, i.e. the battle over whether or not A/C or D/C would win out in the end. In the middle of this tripod of giant historical figures is a young 26 year old recently graduated attorney named Paul Cravath, a name not familiar to me when I began reading this book but who I learned became one of the giants of the legal profession, largely due to his involvement in the “current war” and it successful resolution (depending on one’s point of view).
This is a pretty fast-paced novel with short chapters and a swift narrative style. The facts are well-researched and the author provides a welcome section at the end wherein he separates facts from fiction. There is also a nice little romance sub plot. But where the novel really shines is in how it is capable of transcending the simple facts of the events during the late 1800’s when electricity was harnessed and helps us to understand the nature and value of the inventive process. A relatively brief 15 years in our history saw not only many new discoveries related to electricity, but also the birth of new ideas on how we would go about “inventing” in the future. The notion of an eccentric lone inventor working in his personal lab quickly morphs into the business of inventing. Really, it’s the beginnings of how technology is advanced today.
This was what made me interested to read this book. But in addition, thanks to having Paul Cravath as the protagonist character, I also got to witness the concurrent development of the legal profession, seeing it change quickly from a cottage industry into a legal “factory” with Cravath’s introduction of the idea of associate attorneys and building an entire legal firm. Pretty cool.
I’ve read this author’s previous novel, “The Sherlockian” and enjoyed it a lot and I’ve also seen the “The Imitation Game” movie for which he was the screenwriter. Clearly, much like the characters he writes about, Graham Moore is a name to watch in the future.
And what a story it is! Many giants of the American Industrial Revolution knocked heads and pocketbooks in the development and diffusion of electricity - and the most significant device that electricity made possible: the light bulb.
Edison, Westinghouse, J. P. Morgan, Nicola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell and young attorney named Paul Cravath all played a role in this fascinating story.
Take a break from binge-watching TV or internet content. Instead, pick a weekend and read the whole book between Friday night and Monday morning. You'll feel wonderful having been so thoroughly engaged and entertained.
The legal fight is not the basis of the book, it's the people involved and their motives. Is Edison a saint or a ruthless devil? Is George Westinghouse a crass capitalistic monster? Is DC current better than AC? At this time, it's an open question - the answer to which depends on which party is paying you.
The 'Current Battle' as it was known then took place amongst a jungle of lawsuits, allegations of patent violations, and various financial
warriors (JP Morgan,) et al that were hell-bent to advance Edison's cause and to destroy anyone and everything that opposed the Edison/Morgan interests.
Extra credit question for prospective readers: "How and why was the 'electric chair' developed?" "Why was the 'chair' abandoned by the same forces that developed it?" And just who advanced the use of A/C current in the dreaded 'electric chair'?
the book, and enjoy an excellent read; bar none, call in the dogs the hunt is over, ya'll.