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The Last Days of Night: A Novel Paperback – May 23, 2017
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“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
About the Author
- Publisher : Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 23, 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0812988922
- ISBN-13 : 978-0812988925
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #18,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Thomas Edison Said, “Not Yet.”
By Bob Gelms
Graham Moore is an exceptionally good writer who makes himself increasingly significant every time he touches a keyboard. In my view, he has already turned himself into a writer who must be read. I’ll now read anything he writes.
Mr. Moore has won an Academy Award for the screenplay he wrote for the motion picture The Imitation Game. It also won him a Writers Guild of American Award from his peers and was nominated for a Golden Globe.
Flush with success, he quickly published his first novel, The Sherlockian. It raced up the charts into best-seller-land and I wrote about it in the last issue of 365ink. Tempus Fugit and along comes his second novel, The Last Days of Night. It, too, is a best seller but a bigger one at that and one of the best examples of historical fiction that comes to mind. If you’ll pardon a colloquialism, it’s a humdinger squared.
The events that take place in the book are all true. The major characters and a few of the minor ones are all real people. I found it incessantly fascinating. You will read about the relationships between George Westinghouse, Nicola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Westinghouse’s lawyer, Paul Cravath, an appearance by J. P. Morgan, and a whole congregation of New York socialites, mega-wealthy business men and politicians. Most of these relationships became poisonously deadly.
At issue first was the light bulb. Thomas Edison conned the public into believing that he had invented the little glass miracle that glowed in the dark. He didn’t. Men by the names of Sawyer, Man, and Joseph Swan did the real inventing and held the patents. Edison “borrowed” their work which gave him a massive leg-up. Edison improved the design just enough for the Patent Office to issue him a patent.
Then George Westinghouse did to Edison what Edison did to Sawyer, Man, and Swan. He made a better light bulb, but in Westinghouse’s case he did make a better bulb…much, much better in almost every way. Edison promptly sued Westinghouse for one billion dollars with a “B.”
While this was going on, there was a life and death struggle to see which form of electricity would wind up in use all over the world in people’s houses and businesses. Would it be Edison’s DC (direct current) which was massively inefficient, outrageously expensive, and horrifically dangerous? Or would it be Tesla’s and Westinghouse’s AC (alternating current) which was efficient, inexpensive, and safe? It was a war. Read and learn.
Nicola Tesla was a bona fide, 5 star, golden genius, the kind of genius that would be mentioned in the same sentence with Sir Isaac Newton and Leonardo da Vinci. He was also psychotic in the clinical sense. He described getting his ideas fully formed from dreams or hallucinations that were vivid, lasted days, and were sometimes scary. He, eventually, had a total nervous breakdown.
Tesla should have been born at the end of the 21st century. He was that far ahead of the times. In the 1890s, he described in detail television, cell phones, radio and wireless communication. When Gugliemo Marconi “invented” radio using 17 of Tesla’s patents, the court case that ensued went all the way to the SCOTUS. Six months after Tesla died a penniless vagrant in a flop house in New York, the SCOTUS vacated Marconi’s claim of inventing radio and gave the invention’s ownership to Tesla because of Marconi's patent infringement. Nicola Tesla invented radio not Marconi.
Tesla worked for both Edison (which ended incredibly badly) and Westinghouse (which also ended badly). Tesla was not a businessman and being thrown into the proverbial tank with sharks like Morgan, Edison and Westinghouse, poor Nicola Tesla was torn apart and eaten alive.
Westinghouse, Edison, J. P. Morgan, and Paul Cravath who was Westinghouse’s wunderkind attorney, managed to resist killing each other despite the fact that they all had serious thoughts of doing so. They came together in a genius settlement that Mr. Cravath, who was 27 years old at the time, devised. That didn’t stop a massively hostile takeover attempt by one or more of the lads of one or more of the existing companies. The Edison General Electric Company, in what was nothing more than a malicious act of payback by someone who had the power to do it, removed Edison’s name from the company and that, dear reader, is how we got General Electric.
Graham Moore’s The Last Days of Night is a grand slam home run. It’s wonderfully written, plotted and spellbinding. It is endlessly entertaining. I give it 8 stars out of a possible 5. You will not be disappointed.
For this book, the historical events appear to drive the story, and yet those events just seem to be a background for this fictionalized effort. But as a work of fiction, the story is just not that exciting. And though the historical aspects are true in a general sense, the majority of the details are simply fiction.
The best historical fiction I’ve read: “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara.
The best biography I’ve read: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernov
If you're going to write a book of 'historical fiction' then do not use the name of individuals who actually lived at that time. Otherwise it's not only untrue, but it will confuse those who aren't familiar with that specific time and place. If you want to know something of Tesla as he truly lived watch the amazing PBS series about him. This book just annoyed me. I like historical fiction in terms of learning about a time and place you wouldn't know otherwise, but why the author didn't just change the name instead of choosing to be inaccurate I do not understand.
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