Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope” as Want to Read:
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  22,942 ratings  ·  3,446 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
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by William Morrow
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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 lo…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)
Bruce McDonald Yes, there are differences. The youth version is shorter, uses simpler language, and avoids "adult" subject matter such as what might go on in bars an…moreYes, there are differences. The youth version is shorter, uses simpler language, and avoids "adult" subject matter such as what might go on in bars and brothels, and perhaps some of the detail in descriptions of the effects of famine, disease and poverty. You can see in your library catalog if the original version is available, and if it is, get that one instead. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  22,942 ratings  ·  3,446 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
Will Byrnes
Oct 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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
Diane S ☔
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019
2.5 This book presented me with quite a challenge. I started out listening on audio, but had trouble understanding the narrator. His accent is probably authentic yet his sing ding voice and rise in dramatically storytelling, sent me to the pages of print. Luckily, I had that option.

I found my enjoyment of the story varied I different sections. I enjoyed learning of their culture, their storytelling tradition, but there was some information that I wish had been left out. The famine was awful, it
Jan 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: people
“I went to sleep dreaming of Malawi, and all the things made possible when your dreams are powered by your heart.”
William Kamkwamba ~~ The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope


I loved 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.

Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: random, pub-2009
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
My rating is of the book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, not William Kamkwamba and what he has accomplished. I praise the man for his curiosity, his indefatigable spirit and what he has achieved with little help and against all odds.

The book is co-authored by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. I wish it had been clearly stated how the two split their work; exactly who did what should have been explained.

It is the prose style, the language, the writi
Jun 21, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I think about this book as encouraging subliminal racism, while making the western world feel better about themselves. I HATE IT.

"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" is the memoir of William Kamkwamba, a boy from a small village in Malawi. In 2002 Malawi suffered a severe drought, which caused all seasons crops to die. Consequently William and his family came close to starving and didn‘t have anything to sell either. William was forced to drop out of school, because his parents couldn‘t afford the f
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
Oct 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa, memoir, favorites
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
Jun 13, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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
Ross Blocher
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is an astounding, inspiring story told with natural humor and candidness. William Kamkwamba was born to poor farmers in Malawi, a southeastern African country at the bottom of the Great Rift Valley. If you're not one of the two million who have already seen his TED presentation, you can find it here, or see his later talk here. William starts by describing superstitions he was raised with, and what led him to question them. His natural inquisitiveness leads William ...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
Engaging story about a young African man who, defying the odds, 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 an
Jan 13, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Read for Earth Day/Month.

Famine, drought, and death propelled young Kamkwamba to find a way to provide his farming family with with electricity and irrigation. Pain, Struggle, and Success intertwine. For the good of Kamkwamba's family. For his town of Malawi. For other drought-prone areas. For inspiration. For relief.

Various videos on YouTube and two at are available to watch.
Missy J
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
"If you want to make it, all you have to do is try."

A very inspiring book.

William Kamkwamba is from Malawi and grew up in the countryside where his father worked as a farmer. Right before the start of his secondary education, a drought and then floods destroyed the family's and much of Malawi's crops, sending the country into a terrible famine. The family didn't have money to pay for William's school fees, so he had to drop out. After the terrible famine, William tried to catch up with his stud
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
Nov 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
"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
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I won't go into a summary of the book as many have but will simply say I was very much reminded of the difference one person can make in the world. Bryan Mealy the co-author was brilliant in writing in William Kamkwambe's voice. I found myself comparing this book to Three Cups of Tea which is also a book about one person setting out to do what he believed he could do without any goals of self aggrandizement. They both simply wanted to make life a little better for the group of ...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.
A wonderful story of innovation, persistence, curiousity, and heart.
An amazing, touching, and inspiring story about a boy who grew up in a village in Malawi, who, despite poverty and famine and other challenges, managed to self-taught himself to build a windmill and generate electricity for his house.

In this book we follow William from his childhood, being introduced slowly to the Malawi culture, then to his family—the farm and its challenges, including the heartbreaking famine that hit Malawi in 2002. After the famine, his family didn't have any money left to
Oct 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: malawi, nonfiction
William is a great person to draw inspiration from. Read the book to see how many opportunities you leave unused, and that your surroundings indeed foster your growth. This boy (now a grown man) had only two major drivers for his success - hunger and pitch black nights. I admire his sturdy character.
Education is the key!
Sep 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Marco Pavan
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • America's Daughter (Dancing Soul Trilogy, #2)
  • More Than Love, A Husband's Tale
  • Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace With Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Sarah the Bold
  • Born This Happy Morning
  • "Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?": A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity
  • My Corner of the Ring
  • Whisper to the Black Candle: Voodoo, Murder, and the Case of Anjette Lyles
  • Scooby-Doo Team-Up: It's Scooby Time!  (Scooby-Doo Team-Up (2013-))
  • Jay-Z: Made in America
  • How Many Moons Does the Earth Have?
  • A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story
  • When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir
  • Intimations
  • Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More
  • Why Me?
  • Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower
  • Thinking Inside the Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can't Live Without Them
See similar books…
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

News & Interviews

Did you set an extremely ambitious Reading Challenge goal back in January? And has this, uh, unprecedented year gotten completely in the way of...
39 likes · 15 comments
“I try, and I made it!” 31 likes
“I went to sleep dreaming of Malawi, and all the things made possible when your dreams are powered by your heart.” 22 likes
More quotes…