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

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4.09  ·  Rating details ·  16,657 Ratings  ·  2,766 Reviews
William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, Africa, a country plagued by AIDS and poverty. Like most people in his village, his family subsisted on the meager crops they could grow, living without the luxuries—consider necessities in the West—of electricity or running water. Already living on the edge, the situation became dire when, in 2002, Malawi experienced the worst famine ...more
Kindle Edition, 292 pages
Published by HarperCollins (first published September 29th 2009)
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Darci Quayle In the Malawi reigion they use Chewa and English for their languages. When you read this book I recomend wrigting down every word you dont know and…moreIn the Malawi reigion they use Chewa and English for their languages. When you read this book I recomend wrigting down every word you dont know and looking it up later, it really helps understand what the William Kamkwamba is teling us as the readers. (less)
Kim "[...] names often reflect the circumstances or the parents' greatest fears."

Malazani Finish Me Off

Maliro Funeral

Manda Tombstone

Musaiwale Don't Forget…more
"[...] names often reflect the circumstances or the parents' greatest fears."

Malazani Finish Me Off

Maliro Funeral

Manda Tombstone

Musaiwale Don't Forget

Phelantuni Kill Me Quick

Simkhalitsa I'm Dying Anyway

Tiyakume Thank God(less)

Community Reviews

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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
Feb 17, 2011 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
Oct 12, 2009 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
Oct 05, 2009 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
Mar 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  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
Sarah
Dec 24, 2009 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
Kenny
Jan 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: people
I love this book. But, I felt too much time was given over to the famine in Malawi and the superstitions of witchcraft, and not enough time to William. The last 1/3 of the book was rushed as we learned about the windmill, and his accomplishments.

I recommend this book.
Jay
Jun 13, 2014 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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 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
Calzean
There's a lot of books about the problems in Africa; this memoir does contain the usual list of corruption, poverty, subsistence farming, disease and the impact of droughts. But it is one staggering story of uneducated William, with little English, and with the help of a couple of text books he finds in the local primary school library makes a windmill to generate electricity using pieces of junk. He figures out solutions to numerous problems (including working out what AC and DC means, building ...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
Engaging story about a young African man who defying the odds and manages to build a wind power generating turbine to help his family and village. William grows up in the corrupted country of Malawi, in farming village and without education. His story of survival is no exaggeration: illnesses like malaria and aids are endemic in the region, famine is a common occurrence, poverty is the norm, with no help from the government William and his people are facing daily struggles just to survive.

It’s a
...more
Vy
Nov 22, 2009 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
Kristy K
Incredibly inspirational. William is a boy in Malawi who lives with no electricity, little schooling, and oftentimes hunger. Yet he inspires to do and be more than his situation normally allows. Teaching himself physics and other sciences through books all the while enduring ridicule, he creates a windmill to bring electricity to his home. I was awed and humbled many times throughout his story.
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
Val
Mar 16, 2016 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
Cindy
Oct 19, 2009 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
Diane
Sep 16, 2009 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 27, 2010 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
Marco Pavan
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is very well written. The flow of the story is excellent and the narration really works. William's story is a true inspiration. I was moved by his mental strength, the endurance through the hardships and the famine, and his ability to overcome difficulties and fight his way through giving himself an education, understanding the principles of physics and electromagnetism to build a windmill, and providing energy to power his house.

The reason i found this story truly inspiring was becaus
...more
Seth
Oct 21, 2009 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
Karen
Dec 14, 2009 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
Paul
Nov 01, 2009 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
Steve Comstock
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
If I only had one word to describe this incredibly inspiring memoir, it would be "indomitable". It follows the story of a young man in Africa elevating his stature, and that of his community, through an outside the box approach to the world around him. I cannot help but think about all we could accomplish if we looked at the challenges in our life through eyes like William Kamkwamba's. I was also struck by how powerful a thirst for knowledge can be, and how much that thirst can accomplish with c ...more
Diane
Feb 13, 2010 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.
Tiffany
What an inspiring story! I loved hearing William's story and how he persevered even when the entire village thought he was crazy and how he never stopped learning and trying to improve. It is truly a gift to find individuals with that kind of attitude. I was also impressed that his parents supported him even when they didn't understand what he was doing. I hope he continues to inspire people to make the most of their circumstances.
Marianne Wonnacott
Fascinating. This is a book that will stick with me forever. He has an amazing story to tell and he is an amazing storyteller. I actually listened to the audiobook which I highly recommend because the reader has an African accent which makes it so fun to listen to and more authentic than reading in my own voice in my head. It took me by surprise every time he mentioned the year, because of the village life he was living, I kept assuming he was telling a story from a long time ago. It's a real ey ...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
edh
Aug 05, 2009 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
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
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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!” 26 likes
“I went to sleep dreaming of Malawi, and all the things made possible when your dreams are powered by your heart.” 17 likes
More quotes…