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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: A Memoir

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4.11  ·  Rating details ·  19,891 ratings  ·  3,259 reviews
When William Kamkwamba was just 14 years old his parents told him that he must leave school and come and work on the family farm as they could no longer afford the $80 a year tuition fees. This is the story of his refusal to give up on learning and reading.
Paperback, 273 pages
Published February 1st 2010 by HarperCollins (UK) (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)
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…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)

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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
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
...more
Diane S ☔
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Kenny
Jan 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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


1

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.

1
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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
Chrissie
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
...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
...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
...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
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 ...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 only
...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
Ross Blocher
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Its an
...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 ...more
Missy J
"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
...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
...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
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
Vya
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 familythe 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
...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
...more
Silvana
A wonderful story of innovation, persistence, curiousity, and heart.
Janice
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 ...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
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
...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 ...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
...more
Marina (Sonnenbarke)
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
...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 Malawis 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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