“Tesla’s relationship with money was spookier. It wasn’t exactly that he didn’t care for money. He’d accepted Paul’s offer. Yet money was clearly not the thing that he wanted. Which suggested the question that kept Paul up that night, as the spring air grew warm enough that he’d flung the sheets from his bed:
What did Nikola Tesla want?”
It was a time of invention, innovation, design and patents. America in 1888 was beginning to install and use electricity. Gas lamps were on their way out and light bulbs were on their way in. The competition was fierce, though, even though the motivations were different. Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse both wanted the electrical market and lawyer Paul Cravath was stuck in the middle of it all.
The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore has been on my to-read list since first seeing it appear in Bookpages magazine. I received a copy in a Christmas gift exchange with a book club I’m in and decided to pick it as the February Online Book Club book. I had read about Edison and Westinghouse’s competition in Glenn Beck’s book Miracles and Massacres and learned then that the competition often resorted to awful actions.
Edison sues Westinghouse over the light bulb patent and Westinghouse hires Cravath to work on the lawsuit. Cravath ends up in a world of influential people and faces danger and tough choices if he wants to try and win. His life is most changed when he meets Nikola Tesla and finally sees genius with the only motivation to share ideas with the world, not make money or products. There are lots of twists and turns in the story and you will most likely see Edison and Westinghouse in a different light than you ever have before.
This book is historical fiction and while the author takes lots of liberties with the story, he puts notes at the end of the book of what is actually factual in the book, which I found very helpful. I often wonder at the end of historical fiction books what are the facts and what is fiction. I would highly recommend this book to any historical fiction lover high school age or older. (There are descriptions of animals and two humans being electrocuted.) It would be a great book club book since it’s a part of history that isn’t often told and you’ll want to discuss it with someone.