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Publisher's Summary

In the final decades of the 19th century, three brilliant and visionary titans of America's Gilded Age - Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse - battled as each vied to create a vast and powerful electrical empire. In Empires of Light, historian Jill Jonnes portrays this extraordinary trio and their riveting and ruthless world of cutting-edge science, invention, intrigue, money, death, and hard-eyed Wall Street millionaires. At the heart of the story are Thomas Alva Edison, the nation's most famous and folksy inventor, creator of the incandescent light bulb and mastermind of the world's first direct current electrical light networks; the Serbian wizard of invention Nikola Tesla, an eccentric dreamer who revolutionized the generation and delivery of electricity; and the charismatic George Westinghouse, Pittsburgh inventor and corporate entrepreneur, an industrial idealist who in the era of gaslight imagined a world powered by cheap and plentiful electricity and worked heart and soul to create it. Empires of Light is the gripping history of electricity, the "mysterious fluid", and how the fateful collision of Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse left the world utterly transformed.
©2003 Jill Jonnes (P)2017 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"A very accessible and informative historical account that will be fascinating reading for a general audience as well as those with a more specialized interest." ( Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jean on 08-03-17


Instead of writing about one of these great titans Edison, Tesla or Westinghouse, Jill Jonnes chose to write about all three in one book. Jonnes focused on the race to control electricity delivery to the country. The battle between Edison and Tesla was whether electricity should be delivered and put to use as direct or alternating current. Edison backed direct and Tesla alternating current. Westinghouse jumped into the fray to control the delivery to business and homes throughout the country. Westinghouse and Tesla teamed up to harness the Niagara Falls in 1895 to deliver electricity. According to Jonnes electricity unleashed a Second Industrial Revolution.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. The book covers a broad-spectrum picture of the race to electrify the nation. The book is well organized. The book covers everything from the biographies of the three men to the science of electricity, to business and finance. Of the three men, it is Tesla that has fascinated me since I studied him in college.

Jill Jonnes has her degree in history from John Hopkins University. In this book, she demonstrates the ability to portray the broad picture of history in the style of the late Stephen Ambrose. She is definitely an author to watch.

The book is almost seventeen hours long. Chris Sorensen does a great job narrating the book. Sorensen is a screenwriter, playwright and award-winning audiobook narrator.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By DuPont on 06-15-17

Get the book vs audio version

The book is nice history read as I am a fan of Tesla but the narrator of the audio has a tick that bothered me...when he gets to the end of a sentence he has certain drawl that wore thin on me and I could not finish listening to the book...I recommend getting the book vs audible version.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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