The appeal of the events shines through despite a shaky start.

READ REVIEW

THE ELECTRIC WAR

EDISON, TESLA, WESTINGHOUSE, AND THE RACE TO LIGHT THE WORLD

The war of the currents and its larger-than-life personalities are illuminated by a flickering light.

In the 1870s and 1880s, two competing systems of electrical current were backed by three very different men. Thomas Alva Edison, the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” advocated for direct current, while inventor Nikola Tesla, a Serbian immigrant, and George Westinghouse were leading proponents of alternating current. The potential for acclaim and riches was high, but it all came down to which system—direct or alternating current—would prevail. Edison had the name recognition but a flawed system, while Tesla and Westinghouse were confident in alternating current’s superiority, even when it was branded too dangerous in the press. It took a world’s fair, court battles, and worldwide financial panic to yield a winner in the war of the currents. Although the men and the historical events provide plenty of drama, Winchell (Been There, Done That: School Daze, 2016, etc.) blunts the impact by spending too much time at the beginning of the book on the development of the electric chair and its first victim. Black-and-white photographs and technical drawings supplement the text, which is based on extensive primary and high-quality secondary sources. There is unfortunately no mention of influential African-American inventor and Edison employee Lewis Latimer, who patented the carbon filament.

The appeal of the events shines through despite a shaky start. (timeline, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-12016-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A thorough recounting of Nansen’s unfairly half-forgotten achievements—colorful, exhausting, compelling reading.

LOCKED IN ICE

NANSEN'S DARING QUEST FOR THE NORTH POLE

A vivid (sometimes all too much so) account of Norwegian scientist, explorer, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Fridtjof Nansen’s 1893-1896 try for the North Pole.

Though the Nansen expedition was possibly even more meticulously planned than Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic venture, both had similar results—neither reached their goals, but both endured weary months of such wild mischances that it seems miraculous that neither lost a man. Lourie (Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush, 2017, etc.) draws generously from Nansen’s detailed records to describe the special gear and provisions he, in many cases, invented or improvised (“meat-chocolate,” yum, giving way in later, more desperate, times to “cold boiled bear and a few ounces of bread”), to introduce his human and canine crews (the latter eventually becoming their own food supply), and to retrace the trek’s route. The highly informative appendix includes a wealth of information, including conversations with modern polar explorers that present a picture of what being out on the arctic ice is like…highlighted by guidelines for pooping outdoors in subzero temperatures. Though the many sepia-toned maps and photographs are too often dim and foggy, the images add both flavor and immediacy to the narrative. Only glancing mention is made of all Nansen learned from the Inuit residents who aided him.

A thorough recounting of Nansen’s unfairly half-forgotten achievements—colorful, exhausting, compelling reading. (author’s note, aftermatter, appendix, sources, bibliography and resources, websites, image credits, index) (Nonfiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-13764-7

Page Count: 337

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

BLIZZARD!

THE STORM THAT CHANGED AMERICA

In the same format as his Newbery Honor title The Great Fire (1995), Murphy brings the blizzard of 1888 to life. He shows how military weather-monitoring practices, housing and employment conditions, and politics regarding waste management, transportation monopolies, and utilities regulation, all contributed to—and were subsequently affected by—the disaster. He does so through an appealing narrative, making use of first-hand accounts whose sources he describes in his notes at the end (though, disappointingly he cites nothing directly in the text). The wealth of quotable material made available through the letters of members of “the Society of Blizzard Men and Blizzard Ladies” and other sources help to make the story vivid. Many drawings and photographs (some of the blizzard, but most of related scenes) illustrate the text. These large reproductions are all in a sepia-tone that matches the color of the typeface—an effect that feels over-the-top, but doesn’t detract significantly from the power of the story. Murphy’s ability to pull in details that lend context allows him to tell this story of a place in time through the lens of a single, dramatic episode that will engage readers. This is skillfully done: humorous, jaw-dropping, thought-provoking, and chilling. (index) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-590-67309-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more