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Old 09-02-2018, 06:38 AM   #3151
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The Last Days of Night, by Graham Moore (book club selection)

Washington Times: This novel’s brilliant journey into the past begins in 1888, when the use of electricity was in its infancy and two great inventors, Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, were fighting to control its spread across the United States and to reap the wealth and glory that would follow. In “The Last Days of Night,” 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.

Moore — also the author of “The Sherlockian,” a fascinating novel about Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Oscar-winning screenplay for “The Imitation Game” — tells this amazing story through the eyes of Paul Cravath, a 26-year-old lawyer who was hired by Westinghouse to lead his legal battle with Edison. He would later found the prominent New York law firm that still bears his name.

The legal case, simply put, was that Edison had patented a lightbulb and that Westinghouse had invented a better one, but the U.S. patent office had ruled that Westinghouse’s bulb violated Edison’s patent. Edison was demanding $1 billion in damages. Cravath’s job was to persuade the courts that, despite the patent office ruling, his client’s bulb was different from Edison’s.

Another inventor enters the story, the Serbian-born, highly eccentric, often unstable Nikola Tesla. At that point, Edison could offer only direct current, or DC, power. Unfortunately, DC could be transmitted only short distances, and therefore only those with enough money to buy a generator for their homes could enjoy electricity.

Tesla found a way to use the higher-voltage alternating current, or AC, to overcome the distance limit and thus revolutionize the spread of electricity. He went to work for Westinghouse to perfect his invention. Cravath, fearing that Edison might have Tesla killed — his laboratory did mysteriously burn down — kept him in hiding for months. Edison, he knew, was not a man to cross.


It looks like there is a film forthcoming with Eddie Redmayne.
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