The Last Days of Night

  • by Graham Moore
  • Narrated by Johnathan McClain
  • 13 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From Graham Moore, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game and New York Times best-selling author of The Sherlockian, comes a thrilling novel - based on actual events - about the nature of genius, the cost of ambition, and the battle to electrify America.
New York, 1888. Gas lamps still flicker in the city streets, but the miracle of electric light is in its infancy. The person who controls the means to turn night into day will make history - and a vast fortune.
A young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul's client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the lightbulb and holds the right to power the country?
The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society - the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing him is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal - private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown lawyer shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it?
In obsessive pursuit of victory, Paul crosses paths with Nikola Tesla, an eccentric, brilliant inventor who may hold the key to defeating Edison, and with Agnes Huntington, a beautiful opera singer who proves to be a flawless performer onstage and off. As Paul takes greater and greater risks, he'll find that all in his path are playing their own games, and none are quite who they seem.


What the Critics Say

"Mesmerizing, clever, and absolutely crackling, The Last Days of Night is a triumph of imagination. Graham Moore has chosen Gilded Age New York as his playground, with outsized characters - Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse - as his players. The result is a beautifully researched, endlessly entertaining novel that will leave you buzzing." (Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl)
"In The Last Days of Night, Graham Moore takes us back to the dawn of light - electric light - into a world of invention and skulduggery, populated by the likes of Edison, Westinghouse, Tesla, and the novel's hero, a young lawyer named Paul Cravath. It's part legal thriller, part tour of a magical time - the age of wonder - and once you've finished it, you'll find it hard to return to the world of now." (Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City)
"The Last Days of Night is a wonder, a riveting historical novel that is part legal thriller, part techno-suspense. This fast-paced story about the personal and legal clash over the invention of the light bulb is a tale of larger-than-life characters and devious doings, and a significant meditation on the price we as a society pay for new technology.... Thoughtful and hugely entertaining." (Scott Turow)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Pretty terrific. Larger-than-life characters.

Where does The Last Days of Night rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It's in the top twenty percent. It has all the major requirements of a great book. Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse are men who dominate their industries by force, as with Tom Edison, and with stick-tuitiveness, exemplified by Mr. Westinghouse. And our hero, the young lawyer Paul Cravath, attempts to mediate between these two giants, while simultaneously shielding the brilliant electrical engineer Nicola Tesla, a truly eccentric man. All the forces of a drama that grabs you are there, and the story is very well told.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Last Days of Night?

I think that the fire which is clearly started by the fiery experiments of Mr. Tesla gone up in smoke is one of the best scenes in the book. No one understands how this happened, least of all Mr. Tesla. They believe that some workers on the roof accidentally started it. I am no fire investigator, but, I do know that fire travels up at the beginning of the fire, and then travels down when the fire runs out of material at the top of the building. Tesla is such a gentle, awkward genius, that one just does not want him to have accidents that kill people. The opening scene of a wire worker putting both hands on two wires, and thus completing the circuit which will promptly fry him: this surely gets your attention.

Have you listened to any of Johnathan McClain’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No I haven't, so I can't compare him to any other narrators. He certainly does a fine job here. The kid-glove gentility in which the Paul-and-Agnes relationship is told, reveals some of the depth of Mr. McClain's skills. One keeps rooting for them. They both lead lonely lives, despite the fact that Agnes has been forcefully pushed to New York stardom and celebrity status, while Paul comes to New York with a Tennessee background, and a cool, distant father. Mr. McClain is quite able to communicate the many unsaid words that pass between the couple. You care enough about these (fictional) people to actually want them to be happy, and together. Very sweet, and a nice contrast to the vicious fighting that Edison and Westinghouse engage in every day.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No. I liked it enough to recommend it to most Audible readers. I don't say that too often, as many of the books that I review are thrillers, and I know that many readers, particularly women (sorry, sorry for my un-PC remark) just don't like them. My wife doesn't even like to see thrillers in the movie theaters at night: she says that the movies give her the creeps.

Any additional comments?

Nope. I can't imagine that Mr. Moore has another book that is anything similar to this one, but I promise him and you that I will keep me eyes out for it. This man can write. Count on it.

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- Richard Delman "I am a 65-year-old psychologist, married for 25 years, with two sons who are 25 and 22. I love reviewing the books and the feedback I get."

Moore's Genius Work Illuminates History

What makes a book great? Is it its characters, dialogue, plot, humor, drama? In most cases I would say the characters because relationships best suit my personality. But here is an historical novel about the war over the light bulb featuring 3 great inventors, Edison, Westinghouse and Tesler, told through the eyes of a young attorney. To be sure the characters are as fascinating here as they were in real life. But what makes this novel so intriguing to me is its appeal to my curiosity.

I have been scouring historical journals and reading all I can to learn more about these men and others in their age of invention. Alexander Bell plays a small, but key role in the story as well. Graham Moore's account of Bell was so charasmatic that I am drawn to read of him soon.

The main character is Paul Kravath, a 27 year old attorney, just 17 months out of Columbia Law School. In real life, as in the novel, he is hired to represent George Westinghouse to defend his company from over 300 lawsuits filed by Thomas Edison for patent infringements over the light bulb. Much is at stake, not the least of which is who will bring electrical power to the entire United States. Within the suit, the quest for harnessing and distributing power, and the business acumen and ethics of those involved lie real mysteries and much intrigue. Certainly as much as any good mystery novel.

If its history doesn't interest you, the suspense and drama certainly will entertain. It is well read by Johnathan McClain.

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- Charles Atkinson "Dept Q, Harry Hole... where are you?"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-16-2016
  • Publisher: Random House Audio