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

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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  8,642 ratings  ·  1,930 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, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find. But William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy, and he dreamed of building one that would bring electricity and water to his village and change his...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published February 29th 2000)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
This review has been revised and can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.
Kinga
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
Miss GP
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 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Vy
"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
Sarah
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
Mal Warwick
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
Seth
Oct 20, 2011 Seth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Erika
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
Diane
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
Barbara
When his family slowly begins to starve due to the severe drought in Malawi in Africa, fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba decides to do something about it. Although despair over the family's situation could have overwhelmed him once he was forced to stop attending school, William used an English dictionary to help him comb through science books at the library that might help him solve the villagers' need for water and for electricity. The mechanically-inclined young man was inspired by the pict...more
Sheila
Aug 18, 2014 Sheila rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Karen
Dec 14, 2009 Karen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
edh
"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
Sri
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
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
Judy
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.
Diane
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.
Dave
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
Kat
Oct 24, 2009 Kat rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Recommended to Kat by: Jon Stewart.
Holy guacamole, this book is amazing. Not only was I, understandably, astounded by William Kamkwamba's ingenious techniques, capability for understanding what to me is complete science mumbo-jumbo, and his creativity, but I was constantly impressed by his humor and outlook. This is a man who's separate from me in age by maybe a few months--a year at most. While I was studying in high school and surfing the internet, he was starving in Malawi. Literally. Starving. His story is a triumph and I jus...more
Natalia
I don't often cry over books, but I was sniffling into my coffee over this one. It's kind-of the story of William building his windmills... but that's a very small part of it. It is, at it's heart, a simple window into life in rural southern Africa. And it feels like a completely different world than the one I live in (which it obviously is)

The first half of the book revolves around major famine in Malawi in 2000. While I know there have been catastrophic famines all over Africa (after all, who...more
Mormonhermitmom
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sue
This book was the June selection for the book club I have joined. It's selection highlights one of the things I most like about my book club: it encourages me to read books I otherwise would not choose. This is one of those books. I had seen it in the bookstore but would not have picked it up, assuming (quite rightly, as it turned out) that a discussion of the mechanics of producing electricity would cause my eyes to glaze over (much like they did in high school physics classes). This is not the...more
Sylvester
My mother once told me that everything you want to know can be found in a book somewhere (perhaps not the answer itself, but at least a discussion on the subject in question), and that public libraries are the greatest invention because their existence means that anyone can educate themselves (anyone who can read, that is)if they are willing to do the work. William Kamkwamba's story is proof of that. Here's a kid who, though burdened with unbelievable poverty, facing famine and a future of the s...more
Beverly
My thoughts:
• There is no doubt that this is a very inspirational story of what intelligence, determination, imagination, a positive attitude of hope and a little help from your friends can prove to be powerful motivators even under dire circumstances.
• This book is divided into three parts:
o The first part describes the rural culture, economy and history of Malawi as through the eyes of William (narrator) and how this affected him, his family and his friends
o This was the most interesting part...more
Nancy Kennedy
At every funeral in William Kamkwamba's family, mourners make their peace with death as they sing the old hymn, "This World Is Not My Home." Yet William Kamkwamba isn't ready to concede. As long as he is in this world, he has a burning desire to make it a better home for himself, his family and for his beloved country of Malawi.

William grew up in a place where "magic ruled the world." His world and his beliefs were shaped by a community that revered witch doctors and wizards and feared many thin...more
Jenny
I really like this book but had a little trouble getting into it at the beginning. If I could, I would probably give it a 4 1/2 star rating.

This is our book club book for this month. One of our member's granddaughters went to Africa recently with a Humanitarian group and she is going to give us a little presentation on it when we meet this month.

I have really enjoyed reading books lately about people who are alive today who are making such a difference in this world. It is so inspiring to me and...more
Jai Willkomm
The boy who harnessed the wind is the story of a young African man, William kamkwamba who is from the province of Malawi. Suffering and living with extreme poverty his whole life he has realized the power that no one has used to try and change it. William one day goes to his public library and discovers the power of books and unlocking knowledge. William and his friends can't seem to stay out if the library week after week. The books that catch their eyes are mostly science and engineering. Will...more
Kathleen
Africa, apparently, is not the easiest place to live. William Kamkwamba's story doesn't start out a unique one. There's poverty, good humor, cultural descriptions, and a dictator I have never heard of. Malawi could be any country in Africa, and he could be any boy telling the story of his family. I am well aware that this feeling makes me one of the mass of moronic Americans, but IR is not a particular interest of mine and the first half of this book is not something I would normally pick up.

Of...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
More about William Kamkwamba...
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition 10 Common Core Essentials: Nonfiction: Selections from New and Classic Books for the English Language Arts Standards for Middle and High School

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“I try, and I made it!” 16 likes
“I went to sleep dreaming of Malawi, and all the things made possible when your dreams are powered by your heart.” 11 likes
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