Electricity Destroys “The Last Days Of Night”


thThe Last Days Of Night was a historical fiction novel centered on the race toward electrical invention. At the heart of the novel was the war between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse to create and perfect light. Edison held the patent of the light bulb, but Westinghouse hired attorney Paul to help him bring a lawsuit staking his claim that he actually created the light bulb. I expected this to be more of a periodic legal story, but it was much more about invention than it was about the legality of who owned electricity. 

There were sporadic legal scenes, but this was not a legal story. The plot moved forward based on the men’s creations rather than their legal battles. Instead, there was a lot of information about the landscape of invention and how money, power, and the press impacted invention. For example, when Westinghouse created AC current in addition to the DC current being used, it created an opportunity for Edison to invent something that would use AC current while simultaneously destroying Westinghouse’s reputation.

Paul sought out Nicola Tesla as another way to help in the lawsuit. Because Tesla had previously worked for Edison, he was valuable to Edison’s nemesis, Westinghouse. I thought the time spent on Tesla and his background detracted from the overall rivalry between Edison and Westinghouse, and made the landscape of invention even harder to grasp.

Along the way Paul met Agnes, who became his sidekick in his quest to help Westinghouse. Agnes also became indispensable when Tesla needed a place to stay and Agnes offered her home. I liked Agnes’ character and backstory, and wished she would have had a more prominent role in the novel. This was very well researched, but at times the story suffered to relay accurate information. The author was focused on the present actions taken by the characters instead of emphasizing how the people felt as they went through those acts. That made this a little dry and tough to get through at times.

This was an interesting read, and truthfully, I don’t know how this even ended up on my to read list. Overall, I found it interesting, but it was a difficult read because the content was presented in a way that was a little too factual.

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