The Electric War

Mike Winchell
May 16, 2019

In The Electric War, readers dive into the initial application of electricity in late 19th century America and the substantial struggle that sprung from it. A decade-long conflict is waged on the effectiveness, danger, and control of direct and alternating current. Great minds such as George Westinghouse, Nikola Tesla, and Thomas Edison utilize their knowledge and prowess of electricity to compete in the race of lighting the world. 

The most compelling aspect of The Electric War is the focus on the false portrayal of alternating current by Thomas Edison and the extent that these great minds would go to see their goals come to fruition. My eyes were glued to the book as I read about how Thomas Edison wanted the first electric chair execution to use alternating current to create the false perception that alternating current was uncontrollable and deadly in relation to the manageable direct current. The book describes in great detail how Thomas Edison refused to embrace the induction of alternating current as the superior system with less economic costs, less cable length, more energy output, and less generators in one area. Winchell's recounting of how Thomas Edison firmly believed in direct current and utilized his positive media perception to sway the American public educated me on the competitive nature of historical figures like Thomas Edison. Winchell also compliments the feud between Edison and Westinghouse/Tesla with sections focused on their backgrounds and achievements; these fascinating sections provide more context/insight that serve to enhance the book even further. Tesla's desire to bring light to the world is amplified by Winchell when he mentioned that Tesla ended his contract to receive royalties to ensure the vitality of Westinghouse's electrical company. Mike Winchell does an excellent job outlining the history of electrical lighting in America and its pioneers in a manner that's easy to comprehend and truly captivating.

The book was superb.

Written by
Sarjoun F from BV YA Lit Council

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