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The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Light the World

Review

The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Light the World

The story of THE ELECTRIC WAR is reminiscent of a movie called THE CURRENT WAR which tells the historical account of the battle between inventors to control the new industry in electricity that would eventually take over the world.

THE ELECTRIC WAR begins with the harrowing story of a drunk man who has gruesomely killed his wife with a hatchet. Little does this poor immigrant man know, he will be the first person to be executed by means of the electric chair.

After this gripping introduction, author Mike Winchell seemingly abandons this topic completely and describes the development of Thomas Edison's great inventions and progress in the light, electricity, and inventing industries. The source of power for his inventions was transmitted with newly developed Direct Current (DC).

"I enjoyed learning about the development of AC and DC. At the same time, the book had an adventurous and suspenseful tone....Winchell perfectly combined these elements..."

About halfway through the book, the second main character is introduced: Nikola Tesla, who developed the Alternating Current (AC) in order to power light and other electrical devices more efficiently. Edison, a close ally to DC electricity, strongly opposed alternating current in order to maintain credibility with the public, and with others in the industry. He used vicious tactics to make people afraid and claimed that alternating current caused many deaths and fires, for one simple reason: if AC succeeded, he stood no chance of surviving in the industry. Winchell continues to describe how Tesla won over the general public and scientists with his many accomplishments, including powering the World’s Fair exclusively by AC.

That is when the story comes back to the poor immigrant who murdered his wife. Edison needed a big way to wow the public since AC had become more popular. Initially, he strongly opposed using electricity as a way of execution, but when he was approached by developers a second time, he agreed to work with them --- he needed the business. The story ends with the dramatic execution of the immigrant man, and the effect that it had on Edison and his company. At last, Winchell crowns AC as the king of the currents.

I really liked Mike Winchell’s THE ELECTRIC WAR --- a lot. I enjoyed learning about the development of AC and DC. At the same time, the book had an adventurous and suspenseful tone which made it even better! Winchell perfectly combined these elements --- just the right amount of facts, and just the right amount of “adventure.” I learned a lot about the current war while reading this book and still enjoyed reading it as I would any other fiction novel.

I would recommend this book to high school students --- or anyone looking for a good read who also wants to learn something interesting at the same time.

Reviewed by Ronnie B., Teen Board Member on February 14, 2019

The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Light the World
by Mike Winchell