The Last Days of Night, by Graham Moore (2016)

Historical Fiction
The Last Days of Night, by Graham MooreEdison, Tesla, Westinghouse – we all know the names of the men whose brilliant minds gave of the technological innovations we still use today, from electric light and its distribution system to lasers and x-rays. I was vaguely aware that there were lawsuits over patents, and that the three men were engaged in a business battle between alternating current and direct current, known as the “War of the Currents”. Author Moore draws on all the true events of the late 20th century (roughly 1888 to 1898) but compresses them into two years, reordering events and imagining conversations and meetings, resulting in a fascinating novel that nonetheless frustrated me since I simply didn’t know what was true and what was made up. The author does provide a very helpful afterword, in which he explains how much he revises the truth in each chapter. While nearly everyone is a real person, Moore plays freely with dates of important events, shifting them around to fit his fictional narrative, and create story threads that are purely imaginary. He does a masterful job of creating the setting – I could hear the tinkling of champagne glasses at the Met and see the pools of light, both gas and electric, dotting the busy evening streets of New York, and the characters are well developed. Perhaps it’s a good thing I didn’t know much about the battle between Edison and Westinghouse; were I an expert I’m sure the blend of fact and fiction would drive me nuts! My thanks to publisher Random House for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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