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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope

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4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  12,485 Ratings  ·  2,248 Reviews
William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger. But William had read about windmills, and he dreamed of building one that would bring to his small village a set of luxuries that only 2 percent of Malawians could enjoy: electricity and running water. His neighbors called him ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 27th 2010 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published September 29th 2009)
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Popular Answered Questions

Kim adzukulu grave diggers

Charo the ruler of all the land

chikhwapu giant deadly whip

chikuse agricultural; heaps of dried maize stalks

chimanga maize, white…more
adzukulu grave diggers

Charo the ruler of all the land

chikhwapu giant deadly whip

chikuse agricultural; heaps of dried maize stalks

chimanga maize, white corn crop

dambo grassy marsh

gaga maize chaff

ganyu handouts

kape drooling idiot

magetsi a mphepo windmill, literally "electric wind"

manglomera magic of superhuman strength

misala crazy

mpango long, brightly coloured scarf

mphala home for unmarried boys

nkhuli great hunger for meat

"Odi, odi." "Hello, can I come in?"

phala maize porridge

ulimbo sticky sap used as glue, best coming from the nkhaze tree(less)
Kim There is this from p. 106: "It would be more than a year before we heard from my sister again." If nothing else, this seems to at least imply that the…moreThere is this from p. 106: "It would be more than a year before we heard from my sister again." If nothing else, this seems to at least imply that the communication channel is open again.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Margitte
I once listened to an interview with Sydney Poitier, in which he said that the people who ultimately sent a man to the moon played cricket on the open fields and beaches with sticks and stones. They did not even know what a computer was as young children but they had the imagination to find their toys in the right places. They made something from nothing.

It is for this reason that I wanted to read this book of the young Malawian boy who made life better by using his intellect, despite being thro
...more
Kinga
Dec 22, 2015 Kinga rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: random
Finally good news.

I can't begin to tell you what a joy to read this book was. Every adult and every kid should read it (except for those kids whose parents are not ok with them reading vivid descriptions of someone dying from gonorrhoea - but even those kids should probably rebel against their parents and read it anyway).

As any review will tell you 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind' is about a boy who did just that - he built a windmill from junk using some second-hand book about physics that was
...more
Will Byrnes
Feb 04, 2015 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
William Kambkwambwa was always a curious child. His curiosity about the workings of the world took a hit when his family was unable to afford to keep him in school. But he tried to keep up, going to the library and reading everything he could. He was particularly taken with books on science and on how things work. In this engaging and uplifting story, the young inventor tells of his experience in Malawi constructing a working windmill from bits and pieces retrieved from junkyards, using a design ...more
PDXReader
Aug 17, 2010 PDXReader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book sat on my shelf for over a year mostly due to its unfortunate title. It certainly sounded boring! I only read it because it filled a challenge need. I was delighted to find, though, that it was far from dull, and I can honestly say that it's become one of my new all-time favorites. It's one of those books I want to hand to all my friends and say, "Read this. You'll love it!"

Although the book is certainly about Kamkwamba creating a way to generate electricity, that part of his story co
...more
Cheryl
Dec 27, 2013 Cheryl rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Inspirational Nonfiction Lovers
No more skipping breakfast; no more dropping out of school. With a windmill, we'd finally release ourselves from the troubles of of darkness and hunger. In Malawi, the wind was one of the few consistent things given to us by God, blowing in the treetops day and night. A windmill meant more than just power, it was freedom.


This story about a boy who grows up in poverty in the farming villages of Malawi, survives famine and diseases, drops out of grade school because of poor grades, and ends up b
...more
Sarah
Jan 12, 2010 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, favorites, africa
This is one of the most inspiring books I've ever read. It's the true story of a Malawian teenager named William Kamkwamba. When forced to drop out of school by poverty, he used library books to teach himself enough about electricity and engineering to construct a windmill and bring electricity to his family's farm. His ingenuity, thirst for knowledge, perseverance and strength of character are truly inspiring. The co-author manages to write with transparent prose, allowing Kamkwamba's own voice ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is one of those reviews for which not having a half-star option bothers me. This is better than a 3-star book (which is okay), but it is not at the 4-star level (which for me means excellent).

So, this is a memoir by a young man from Malawi who, as a teenager, built a windmill – with only a book to guide him and using materials he was able to scrounge locally – to bring electricity to his home. William Kamkwamba is born one of several children in a farming family in rural Malawi, grows up wi
...more
Jay
Jun 23, 2014 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised that the boy who harnessed the wind didn't get around to that wind harnessing until well into the second half of the book. Prior to that, the book might have been titled "Growing Up in a Small Village in Africa" - the first half of the book really is there to set the stage on the location, the people, and the situation. What the reader will remember is the description of the famine that hit the author's country. When the author finally gets around to his windmill, I was pleased t ...more
Mal Warwick
Jan 02, 2011 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing
A debate has been raging for years within that rarefied global community that earns its keep from the business of what we Americans call “foreign aid.” (Others, less afflicted by an aversion to international engagement, call the field “overseas development assistance.”)

On one side are the advocates for large-scale bilateral and multilateral aid, insisting that huge grants from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and their ilk are the on
...more
Erika
Jan 13, 2010 Erika rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fascinating and true story of William Kamkwamba, a curious and ingenious 14 year old boy who is forced to drop out of school as his family teeters on the edge of starvation during a serious drought in his home country of Malawi (Africa). William, who unsuccessfully tries to sneak back into school, makes use of the public library in an attempt to teach himself and stay caught up with his class. In the library he discovers a book about generating electricity through windmills. He can hardly re ...more
Val
Mar 29, 2016 Val rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose to read this book as part as my world-lit challenge that I think I have already mentioned in other posts. My original book was a novel that I thought I would love, but that I could never find, haha. I then chose this one and I must say it was an amazing idea to do so.

William Kamkwamba is a Malawian boy who, at age 14, builds his first "big windmill", having read some physics in borrowed books and grabbed metal pieces from an abandoned scrapyard. He then wrote and published this book whic
...more
Vy
Jan 23, 2010 Vy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I try, and I made it!"

That quote from William Kamkwamba pretty much sums up this book. It is an amazing, inspirational, and deeply humbling story of a teenage boy from an impoverished farming family in Malawi. The first part of the book gives you insight into Kamkwamba's life and struggles. His challenges are the type that you can already imagine in broad strokes, but Kamkwamba and co-author Mealer help you experience them in a visceral way. The description of the famine was nearly too much to
...more
Karen
Dec 14, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
I LOVED this book. I would give it 10 stars if I could. What an awesome story of perseverance. William Kamkwamba was a young boy when he had to leave school because his family could not afford the tuition. To stay out of trouble he visited the small library where he discovered books on science. He used what he learned in those books to build a windmill and bring electricity to his village. The story of the famine his country faced is heartbreaking. Although, Mr Kamkwamba became world famous for ...more
Diane
Sep 16, 2009 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, will be released on September 29th. This memoir was one of those rare stories you won't want to miss.

William Kamkwamba , was raised in Malawi - Africa. Malawi was a place where most people believed in magic and curses. It was a rural area where poverty was wide-spread, government corrupt, and the people lived without electricity or water. His family lived a very simple life; they had a small farm which they relied on for
...more
Sri
Jan 31, 2010 Sri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
Ini dia, contoh orang yang berhasil keluar dari rooster coop dengan cara jujur dan bertanggung jawab. Kenapa rooster coop? Karena aku baru saja ngobrolin buku White Tiger :D. Sampai sekarang aku masih sebel dengan cara si White Tiger keluar dari 'kandang ayam' dengan cara membunuh majikannya. Huuuu kesal!
Nah kalau si William ini, walaupun miskin dan tidak mampu bersekolah tapi dia tetap belajar. Belajar dari buku-buku perpustakaan dan dari sifat dasarnya yang memang suka utak-atik. Rasa ingin ta
...more
K
Here's one extreme: William Kamkwamba, a young boy suffering famine in Malawi and forced to drop out of school because of poverty, reads a bunch of physics books and creates a windmill from scrap metal. Initially mocked by his community for his strange project, his success earns him renown and enough money to help his family and friends. He returns to school and begins working to help his country and continent.

Here's the other extreme: this book.

In between these two extremes, you have a touching
...more
Paul
Nov 01, 2009 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is an absolutely inspiring story. I was fascinated and amazed by the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the young Malawian boy who taught, equipped, and motivated himself to effect change amid his often brutal and demanding surroundings to better his life and the lives of those around him.

More importantly, it was so refreshing to have a current-day perspective of a very real way of life outside the usual comforts of the United States. The true story, told from the pe
...more
Marina
This is the most beautiful book I've read this year, so far.
It's the story of how a poor boy in a poor country came to be famous all over the world creating a windmill to bring electricity to his village in Malawi. Kamkwamba writes the story of his entire life, he doesn't limit himself with telling the story of his windmill. So we follow him through his childhood, through the famine of 2001-2002, through his encounter with books and consequently the construction of his windmill and his worldwid
...more
Maria Espadinha
Sep 11, 2015 Maria Espadinha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crises: os melhores Despertadores


Se há livros que põem o meu entusiasmo lá no alto, são aqueles que retratam personagens que por força da determinação, coragem e persistência fazem acontecer impossíveis!

Esta história aconteceu no principio do século , no Malawi, durante um ano de seca:
Em 2002 a fome instala-se e propaga-se como a peste negra, enfraquecendo e dizimando as populações.

William Kamkwamba, um jovem que logo em pequeno se deixou fascinar pela electricidade, sonha estudar Ciência nas me
...more
megan
Jun 24, 2016 megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, ebook, nonfiction
Like the best reviews of this book, I could write an entire spiel about global poverty rates, foreign aid, third world industrialization, etc. But, I don't want to have to do the research to get my facts right. What I do know is engineering. And the engineer in me cringed every time William wrapped wires around any power source.
Diane
Feb 14, 2010 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this was an amazing book! So humbling, the way William kept at his project, trying one ingenious method after another. I did fade out a little during some of his enthusiastic descriptions about how things work - he's way smarter than I am. But I feel enriched by this literary encounter with him.
Cindy
A delightful entertaining read, this is the true story of a teenage boy with a little education and a lot of heart who becomes a self-taught engineer. His family is on the verge of starvation during a famine in Malawi when William gets a book from the local library that inspires him to experiment on creating energy from the wind. There is no word for 'windmill' in the Malawian language and so he calls it "electric wind". His friends and people in the village and even his family think he's a litt ...more
Sheila
Aug 18, 2014 Sheila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: family and friends
Recommended to Sheila by: Bhruti my son
“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” really is about William Kamkwamba's childhood and not about the windmill till much later. This book is based in Malawi (Africa) William's homeland and describing a very difficult life as a child, the culture of his homeland and how his family survived a severe famine practically on the brink of starvation and finally possible death. William wasn't able to attend school due to financial constraints, however the family survived to tell their story of windmill (Will ...more
edh
Aug 06, 2009 edh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I went to sleep dreaming of Malawi, and all the things made possible when your dreams are powered by your heart."

William Kamkwamba lived in an Africa of contradictions, where witchcraft bumped against faith in God and Allah-- where famine followed drought and officials denied the people's mortal hardships. The worst contradiction of all was that his family could work hard all year to plant a good crop just to see nature sweep it away from them; a people who barely subsisted hand to mouth. And w
...more
Seth
Oct 20, 2011 Seth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Seth by: Amazon Vine
It's easy to say a book "isn't just about (insert subject)" but The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind really is not just about William Kamkwamba's windmill. The windmill doesn't even come to fruition until about two hundred pages in. The majority of the book is about William's life as a child and the culture of his homeland in Malawi (Africa), which at times is depressing - his family lives with the bare minimum, they survive a famine, and William wasn't able to attend school due to financial constrain ...more
Cindy
Feb 27, 2016 Cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Cindy by: Tina
In the LDS Church, we are encouraged to fast for two consecutive meals on the first Sunday of every month. It's not just 'going hungry' - we are to ask for spiritual help with something, or to bless someone else, and to pray for an increased measure of the Spirit as we fast. Then we take the money we would have spent on those meals and donate it to the Church for the support of the poor in our area. I must admit that I am not great about following this practice. We have always been faithful in t ...more
Judy
Jan 11, 2010 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-memoir, malawi
This book warms the heart as the author relates humbly how he brought hope to his African village. His perserverance in learning to read English in order to read American textbooks and learn to build a windmill that would bring electricity to his family and eventually village. I felt like I survived famine, death in the village and illness alongside William since he relates his story like he is talking to the reader person to person. I loved this book.
Kristel
The nonfiction book by Malawi author William Kamkwamba about his youth in the small African country where his family farmed maize at the mercy of drought and poverty. William wanted to go to school and learn science but because of the drought and loss of the crop he could not pay the fees. William did not give up but would study from science books from a small library. He used junk to build his first windmill and wired his parents home with electricity that could run small amount of lights. It i ...more
Nic Ayson
Jun 01, 2016 Nic Ayson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Bookclub read which to be honest, I was not that fussed on reading, it sounded a trifle dull. To my great surprise it was a read I enjoyed (I'd really like to give 3.5 stars).
The first half being centered around the the great drought and famine of Williams early life in Malawi is rough reading, the existince of living day to day to find food for your stomach is unimaginable. I think this background is what makes William's story so powerful and I particularly loved this line " I went to sleep dr
...more
Dave
Dec 25, 2009 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My mother in law received this book as a gift this morning, and I was so interested in it that I took the afternoon to read it. The first part of the book invokes a little of "To Kill a Mockingbird", describing William's childhood experiences in Malawi. You really get a sense of what family life is like there, and how difficult the conditions are. Those things are commonly invoked whenever your hear anything about Africa, but it was really neat for me to see through his eyes what it was like to ...more
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William Kamkwamba was born August 5, 1987 in Malawi, and grew up on his family farm in Wimbe, two and half hours northeast of Malawi’s capital city. William was educated at Wimbe Primary School, completing 8th grade and was then accepted to secondary school. Due to severe famine in 2001-2002, his family lacked funds to pay $80 in school fees and William was forced to drop out in his freshman year. ...more
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“I try, and I made it!” 22 likes
“I went to sleep dreaming of Malawi, and all the things made possible when your dreams are powered by your heart.” 15 likes
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