Barbara (The Bibliophage)'s Reviews > The Last Days of Night

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore
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it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction, 2016

Last Days of Night is solidly in the realm of historical fiction. And yet, the fiction is rendered with such grace and plausibility that I wondered many times if events truly happened that way. To tell you what was fiction and what wasn't, or how Graham Moore massaged the details would be a massive spoiler. Ultimately what matters is that Moore weaves reality and fiction together in a masterful cloth that's eminently absorbing and readable.

We follow events primarily through the eyes of 26 year old true historical figure and lawyer Paul Cravath. He is hired by George Westinghouse to represent him in the over 300 patent law suits filed by Thomas Edison. Patent law for scientific inventions sounds like a giant snooze, but Moore takes it from potentially impenetrable to fascinating.

The presence of the eccentric Nikola Tesla only serves to further enhance the story. Tesla is an absolute wild card, and the way Moore describes him had me wondering if he was on the autism spectrum. In truth, he was most likely mentally ill but undiagnosed. That question is only part of a story which instead emphasizes his unique scientific genius.

The book's main questions are these:

What is invention?
What is manufacturing?
What is brand marketing?

Moore says, "While Westinghouse was using Tesla’s discoveries to develop a superior product, Edison had skipped straight to developing a superior story." Each man approaches scientific problems differently, based on their character strengths. So in a sense, the book is a character study although the character we are mostly deeply connected to is Cravath.

On the other hand, Moore takes the broad brush of historical events and adds details that pull us along wondering what happens next. In that sense, the book is practically a suspense novel.

Moore throws in one main female character, opera singer Miss Agnes Huntington, who plays a significant role in Cravath's life and in the story's events. The part she plays is true to the times, and yet she's a strong woman who makes her own way in the world.

To sum it all up, I loved this book. It taught me about historical events and people that affect my life every day. Our world wouldn't be the same without Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla. And Graham Moore helped me enjoy every minute of the learning!

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Reading Progress

July 15, 2016 – Shelved
July 15, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
August 7, 2016 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
August 15, 2016 – Started Reading
August 18, 2016 –
8.0% "Finally getting into this and I love it so far!"
August 18, 2016 –
14.0% "That moment when Nicola Tesla shows up in the book ... squee!"
August 18, 2016 –
25.0%
August 19, 2016 –
44.0%
August 20, 2016 –
60.0%
August 20, 2016 –
78.0%
August 21, 2016 – Shelved as: 2016
August 21, 2016 – Finished Reading

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