Scrappymags 3-word review: Edison the jerk?
Genre: Historical Fiction
Shortest summary ever: Thomas Edison v, George Westinghouse over the patent for the lightbulb, all told by Westinghouse’s lawyer, a green just-out-of-college idealist named Paul Cravath. The story surrounds this battle and the lengths people will go to for money, fame, name recognition, truth, science, love and more.
What’s good under the hood: I must admit – I was straight-up ignorant about this battle until I brought up the subject to my mom and she schooled me. Me. A Teacher. I’m ASHAMED, but hey my genius is in literature, not science (see my bio/chem teaching brother for that one) and I don’t think I’ve learned anything about Edison beyond that 5th grade field trip to the Edison Institute at Greenfield Village in Detroit where I likely yawned the entire time and engaged in eye-rolling for 3 hours. As far as Tesla? Isn’t he the guy who made that car that drives-itself-but-can’t-drive-itself? And are you telling me Edison was known to be kind of a jerk? FOR REAL? But I learned that he invented the lightbulb and he was this awesome inventor!! Not so fast grasshopper – this is REAL history (like the time I learned white folks gave the Native Americans small pox blankets) and it’s all a complicated mess and the people I thought were heroes weren’t as altruistic as they’ve been painted on the American canvas called “history.”
As with most historical fiction the good under the hood is in the imagination melded into reality and this book accomplishes this splendidly. The tale being told from the perspective of Paul, having no lawyerly experience, being a green wunderkind of the law thrown into one of the greatest patent battles of the ages, was genius as it gave a same-as-me wide-eyed look at Edison, though obviously Westinghouse-biased.
The test to me of a great book? The author made me Google Cravath, Edison and Tesla (whom I am completely wanting to read more about), thus triggering my quest for knowledge in a “is this TRUE???” expedition. Made me think and made me learn which is thumbs up for me.
What’s bad or made me mad: Not a darn thing.
- A must-read for historical fiction fans, though if you’re familiar with the story (unlike silly me), you might not be as wowed.
- Best-seller readers. Perfect blend of story and fact that moves at a captivating pace.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing and the author Graham Moore for a gifted copy from my “wish for it” list and endless Google searches to find out all I could about these dynamic characters.