Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Last Days Of Night by Graham Moore

The year is 1888.  Gas lamps illuminate the night but change is coming.  Thomas Edison has invented the electric light bulb, or has he?  George Westinghouse has a competing light bulb and the two are locked in a epic patent lawsuit; the winner assured of a massive fortune.  Edison's invention uses direct current while Westinghouse's uses alternating current.  Which will win out in the marketplace and more importantly, in the courts?

Westinghouse is up against one of the most famous men in the country.  Edison is not only widely known and revered but has the backing of some of the most powerful men in the country such as the financier J. P. Morgan.  Westinghouse finds it difficult to find an attorney willing to take on such behemoths of industry and influence.  Most law firms turn him down until he meets a young man, just out of law school but considered a prodigy.

Paul Cravath is only twenty-six years old.  He takes the case but is soon consumed by it and Westinghouse is his only client.  Edison has sued Westinghouse across the country in multiple courts.  As the two fight the epic legal battle, Cravath is exposed to locales and individuals he never expected to see as the son of educators from Tennessee.  Outside of the two businessmen, he meets and befriends others.  Nikola Tesla is a brilliant inventor from Europe who cares nothing about the financial stakes as his only interest is in inventing things never seen before.  Agnes Huntington is a renowned singer who has entry into the parties and meetings of what is considered top society.  Paul Cravath is a novice in this environment, but his ingenuity and legal brilliance insures that his name will survive.

Graham Moore is a successful young novelist, similar in early success to Paul Cravath.  He won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay for his work on The Imitation Game.  His first novel, The Sherlockian, was an Amazon Best Book of December 2010 and The Last Days Of Night was an Amazon Best Book of August 2016.  His forte is taking events and personalities from the past and writing an engaging tale that interests and educates the reader.  What could be a dull recounting of facts is instead an intriguing tale of shifting alliances, legal maneuvers, a retelling of famous lives and a fascinating adventure.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction.

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