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The Last Days of Night: A Novel by Graham…

The Last Days of Night: A Novel (original 2016; edition 2017)

by Graham Moore (Author)

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9286516,870 (4.1)31
When electric light innovator Thomas Edison sues his only remaining rival for patent infringement, George Westinghouse hires untested Columbia Law School graduate Paul Ravath for a case fraught with lies, betrayals, and deception.
Title:The Last Days of Night: A Novel
Authors:Graham Moore (Author)
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2017), Edition: Reprint, 384 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Last Days of Night: A Novel by Graham Moore (2016)

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English (63)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (65)
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and sort of put it aside in my "I should read this at some point" pile. After coming across it again this weekend, I decided (somewhat guiltily as the publication date was waaaaay past) I needed to read it and get it over with. Honestly, I was a little biased against it from the start (how many more books do we really need about white men written by white men??), but it is a decent historical legal thriller if you're into that sort of thing. ( )
  resoundingjoy | Jan 1, 2021 |
I read this book for my real world (currently Zoom world) book club.

This is a brilliantly told account and I found it fascinating but I did not find the book to be a page turner. I think it was more me than the book but it wasn’t that hard for me to put it down and it wasn’t that hard to not pick it up again. I enjoyed it though and I’m glad that I read it.

The map at the start of book of Manhattan in 1888 was great but I read an e-book (and audio book simultaneously) and I forgot to keep checking the map as I read the book. I forgot that it was even there. I love maps in books and if I’d had a hardcover or paperback copy I’m sure I’d have frequently consulted it.

The book started off great with amusing quotes from Bill Gates and Steve Jobs referring to each other. There are wonderful quotes from various scientists at the start of every chapter.

There is lots of wonderful humor. The events described are mostly serious but so much was amusing and I really appreciated that.

The people were interesting.

There were a few tremendously upsetting scenes that were disconcerting as pertained to death by electricity. They included an accident involving a man, unscrupulous research on dogs, and a horrendous memorable capital punishment death, the first in the first electric chair. I’d been warned by a friend of these occurrences so I was somewhat prepared though not completely for the description of the electric chair death. That was unimaginable. If it hadn’t really happened I’d have hated its inclusion as gratuitous violence.

I knew nothing of any of these events. Nothing at all. It was really interesting to learn of them. The account had me looking at some of these historical figures in a new way. I do admire the scope of the entire story and how it deviated in some ways from what I’d been expecting. That was particularly true of how many of the people’s relationships developed and changed.

The author’s note in the back is outstanding. He shows how he constructed the story, telling exactly what was fact, what was slightly tweaked and why, what was fictionalized, what was conjecture on his part, and refers to his research. He has additional material, including a chronology of real events, at his website mrgrahammoore.com. He did fine research and gives some info on his sources.


My status updates:


This is excellent. Great quotes from scientists, plentiful humor, and events about which I knew nothing and I'm now enjoying learning. I'm trying to refrain from doing too much research because I want to learn as I read the novel. (page 53)


I am enjoying it a lot but I'm not reading much and it feels as though it's taking forever for me to read it. I am hoping that I will finish it by the end of next weekend. Both Kindle edition and audio-book are due and will be removed from my devices early on 9/2. I don't think I'll have much time to read 8/31-9/2. Great book though. Interesting historical fiction and I'm learning a lot. the humor is great. (page 138)


Margie warned me. Some highly disturbing content.

I do really like the book so far but at the halfway mark I'm perhaps wishing I was reading a different kind of novel. Maybe for my next book. This one has a lot of humor and that helps.

I'm curious about what really happened and what it fictionalized. I'll do some research after I read the book, if not during. (page 198)

There are too many great quotes by the book’s author and by scientists to list but I loved this (too funny!) one in particular:
“Edison and a few others had been working on improvements to Alexander Bell’s initial “telephone” device. Tesla was attempting to make the devices work without the aid of any wires at all. One didn’t have to be much of a scientist to know that this was absurd. Even if by some miracle Tesla managed to make them function, who in the world would have any use for them?” ( )
  Lisa2013 | Aug 30, 2020 |
This just doesn't seem like the kind of story that one would call compelling. Well Graham Moore made it into a very interesting adventure that drew the reader in quickly and kept them wanting more. The old type of electrical current war between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison with a little bit of Nikola Tesola just doesn't sound like the stuff a reality based thriller could be based upon. Nonetheless Graham Moore has made this into an exciting time watching America and ultimately the world change as the 19th Century started to progress into the modern world of the 20th Century. While the characters are known to many the writer provided the necessary insight into the personalities that fought a critical battle for the future that only a few today were ever aware of and, more importantly for the reader, made it relevant and exciting, if not sometimes dangerous. If you enjoy a thriller read this. If you are a student of history, read this. If you just enjoy a good story well written with interesting characters, read this. ( )
  can44okie | Aug 28, 2020 |
Great balls of electricity! It's the gripping tale of Westinghouse, Edison, Tesla, industrial espionage, AC vs DC, the humble lightbulb, and the litigation that bound them all together. It's a novelization of actual events and very well told. Very enjoyable! ( )
  wills2003 | Jul 30, 2020 |
Interesting historical novel about the current wars (AC versus DC) and the invention of the light bulb. The cast of characters were all real people and of course it was a heavily dramatized story, but it was a great read.

Not exactly action-packed, but it was still interesting and intriguing and was a tangled web of a story. ( )
  spaceman5000 | Jul 23, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
The author of The Sherlockian (2010) presents another twisty historical novel set at the end of the gaslight era. This time the story takes place in a New York City perched on the very precipice of electricity. The book's central focus is on American ingenuity as the basis for commercial success and the so-called war of currents waged between ThomasEdison, George Westinghouse, and NikolaTesla over the creation of the lightbulb. Paul Cravath, the brilliant but inexperienced lawyer hired by Westinghouse to countersue the pugnacious Edison for copyright infringement, unscrupulous behavior, and even violence, provides a first-person perspective. Legal battles and the rancor between scientists drive the pace, while a curious romance unmasks yet another underhanded charade. Woven into this complex drama is a philosophical question about invention: Who is the inventor: the one with the idea, the one who makes a working model, or the one to obtain the patent? Who really did invent the lightbulb?
added by kthomp25 | editBooklist (Apr 20, 2018)
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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I have not failed. I've just found ten thousand ways that don't work. —Thomas Edison
People don't know what they want until you show it to them. —Steve Jobs
Don't you understand that Steve doesn't know anything about technology? He's just a super salesman.... He doesn't know anything about engineering, and 99 percent of what he says and thinks is wrong. —Bill Gates
No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude. —Karl Popper
Whoever lives for the sake of combating an enemy has an interest in the enemy's staying alive. —Friedrich Nietzsche
who first taught me to revere science on a trip to
Bell Laboratories when I was nine years old. He set an
example of intelligence, kindness, and decency to which I aspire every day.
First words
On the day that he would first meet Thomas Edison, Paul watched a man burn alive in the sky above Broadway.
The Western Union man was attempting to untangle the two sets of wires. He looked like a child flummoxed by enormous shoelaces.
Paul felt not only that the lights were new, but that he was. A spark of the filament, and he had been revealed as something he never thought he might be.
None of these early iterations were fit for the home—no wife in America would sanction the installation of a lamp that was confusing to use, expensive to repair, and more likely than not to set the drapes on fire.
That spring, the light-bulb lawsuits descended like locusts upon the land.
"It's one thing to design something, kid. Thomas Edison designs all manner of junk. It's another thing entirely to design something that can be practically built. A thing that will work. That is what a real inventor does. He designs manufacturable devices."
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When electric light innovator Thomas Edison sues his only remaining rival for patent infringement, George Westinghouse hires untested Columbia Law School graduate Paul Ravath for a case fraught with lies, betrayals, and deception.

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