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The Last Days of Night (2016)

av Graham Moore

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,2718015,368 (4.06)39
Fiction. Thriller. Historical Fiction. HTML:NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ? ??A world of invention and skulduggery, populated by the likes of Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla.???Erik Larson
 
??A model of superior historical fiction . . . an exciting, sometimes astonishing story.???The Washington Post
  
From Graham Moore, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game and New York Times bestselling author of The Sherlockian, comes a thrilling novel??based on actual events??about the nature of genius, the cost of ambition, and the battle to electrify America.

New York, 1888. Gas lamps still flicker in the city streets, but the miracle of electric light is in its infancy. The person who controls the means to turn night into day will make history??and a vast fortune. A young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul??s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country?

The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society??the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions, and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing him is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal??private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown lawyer shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it?

In obsessive pursuit of victory, Paul crosses paths with Nikola Tesla, an eccentric, brilliant inventor who may hold the key to defeating Edison, and with Agnes Huntington, a beautiful opera singer who proves to be a flawless performer on stage and off. As Paul takes greater and greater risks, he??ll find that everyone in his path is playing their own game, and no one is quite who they seem.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

??A satisfying romp . . . Takes place against a backdrop rich with period detail . . . Works wonderfully as an entertainment . . . As it charges forward, the novel leaves no dot unconnected.???Noah
… (mer)
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A fascinating historical fiction look into the one vying and legal history of the lightbulb. I enjoyed how the author took technicalities of science and the workings of the lightbulb and put them into layman’s terms. Paul is a likeable character and I was rooting for him the entire time. There were many twists and turns I didn’t see coming, and like Paul, I was blind to the strategies and game-playing other characters did. The love story with Agnes added a nice interpersonal, human touch.

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.* ( )
  JaxlynLeigh | Apr 3, 2024 |
excellent historical fiction similar to E. L. Doctorow ( )
  GordonPrescottWiener | Aug 24, 2023 |
The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore turns back the clock to 1888 to when Westinghouse and Edison were locked in a patent fight. Yeah, this novel focuses on patent law. That should have been my first clue that this novel wouldn’t be for me. All of the descriptions for it made it sound so exciting. Goodreads calls it “thrilling novel based on actual events.” They mention gaslights and Tesla, and I was sold. But the main character, Paul, who is caught in the patent law struggle, is about as interesting as eggshell paint. The portrayal of historical figures—actual people—as villains, weirdos, and curmudgeons makes me incredibly uncomfortable. Add to that prose that is heavy with science jargon, and I just couldn’t finish it.

If you love patent law and electrical engineering, this is the book for you. If those subjects sound like they would put you to sleep, pass on this.
  beckyrenner | Aug 3, 2023 |
This is a fictionalized, though reasonably accurate, look at the "current war" of the 1880s and 90s. It helps if you at least know that there was an AC vs. DC current war, but you don't have to know much of the technical stuff to enjoy it, as it's pretty simply explained along the way.

The book centers on Paul Cravath, the real-life lawyer for George Westinghouse. Westinghouse is being sued by Thomas Edison over the question of who invented the light bulb. But, oh, there's so much more. For the country is on the brink of getting wired for electrical power, and which inventor is going to come out on top? A certain tall and awkward Serbian by the name of Nikola Tesla flutters around the edges of this world, tossing out ideas that can barely be comprehended by his contemporaries.

The book captures the exciting feeling of innovation and the urgency of the competition. It was intellectually pretty satisfying, and it was easy reading. From now on I think I'll be able to connect the names with a personality when it comes to those three great inventors. The author's notes at the end help separate fact from fiction.

If it sounds like your kind of thing, it probably is. ( )
  Alishadt | Feb 25, 2023 |
To Paul Cravath, a twenty-six-year-old attorney from whom great things are expected — demanded — Manhattan in 1888 feels like an oyster he knows contains a priceless pearl. He just doesn’t know how to open it.

On the surface, Paul has what many young men on the make would envy. Despite his age and inexperience, he’s George Westinghouse’s chosen lawyer to defend a lawsuit, which, unfortunately, looks unwinnable. Actually, there are 312 of them, for that’s how many cases Thomas Edison has brought against Westinghouse, his allies, and suppliers, contending that Westinghouse’s light bulbs infringe his patent. A master at manipulating public opinion and as unscrupulous as any robber baron, Edison holds all the cards. Yet when the great inventor summons Paul at a ridiculously late hour to intimidate him, Paul has to wonder: Why did Edison go to such trouble?

Indeed, in this crackerjack legal thriller based on real characters and a true story (though certain events are altered or compressed to fit a dramatic timeline), motives are parsed to a hair’s breadth, and pressures mount from all sides. It’s not just that the damages Edison’s seeking total $1 billion, a sum beyond imagining, especially back then. If it were only money, and very old money at that, nobody reading today would care.

But Edison insists that anything he invented — or says he invented, for the patent filing contains inconsistencies — must occupy a sacrosanct, untouchable position. No one else must improve on them; only he may say how they are to be used; and only he may profit. Moreover, if he has his way, the country will be wired only for direct current, a cumbersome, inefficient, and costly system, as opposed to the alternating current Westinghouse favors. To that end, Edison buys journalists and lawmakers to attack A/C any way he can, twisting the science and engineering involved to sway an ignorant, fearful public.

So we have intellectual and economic freedom, as well as the fate of the world, in a sense, the essence of a thriller, the so-called public stakes of a novel. But there’s more here, a lot more. Paul realizes that his only chance to win his case or make sense of its Byzantine details lies in creating a potent story to compete with Edison’s. Consequently, The Last Days of Night is about the stories people tell themselves and others to justify who they are. For a thriller, this is unusual ground and all the more appealing. At the root lies this observation: “All men get the things they love. The tragedy of some men is not that they are denied, but that they wish they’d loved something else.”

Since Paul is still trying to figure out who he is, that conundrum fits him snugly. Unlike the case in many thrillers, this one’s prime mover makes many mistakes and often feels out of his element. Jealous of his senior partners at his firm (one of whom is Charles Evans Hughes, future presidential candidate, Supreme Court Justice, and secretary of state), Paul tries to maneuver secretly, often to his cost.

But certain games must be played in the open, as with a corporate dinner at Delmonico’s with Nikola Tesla, the brilliant, psychologically unstable, Serbian-born engineer whom Edison used and threw away, and whom Paul believes is the key to victory. Does Tesla harbor vengeful feelings against Edison that Paul can harness? What does the engineer know about Edison’s light bulb? And could he invent another based on a different design?

For a while, I thought Moore had ignored the other half of the gambit necessary in any novel, the private stakes. But I sold him short, for Paul’s other client, Agnes Huntington, a beautiful opera singer with as many different façades as a city block, enters the game as a major player. (She’s a historical figure too.) Younger than Paul by a few years, she nevertheless outclasses him, yet another casting against type.

Credible and gripping as The Last Days of Night is, however, I do wonder about Agnes’s ability to perform various actions necessary to the plot. The growing attraction between Paul and Agnes, though de rigueur, doesn’t always ring true. And I could have done without the earnest effort to redeem Edison and Westinghouse after the narrative has shown them to be neither warm nor fuzzy.

Nevertheless, this is a terrific novel. ( )
  Novelhistorian | Jan 25, 2023 |
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The author of The Sherlockian (2010) presents another twisty historical novel set at the end of the gaslight era. This time the story takes place in a New York City perched on the very precipice of electricity. The book's central focus is on American ingenuity as the basis for commercial success and the so-called war of currents waged between ThomasEdison, George Westinghouse, and NikolaTesla over the creation of the lightbulb. Paul Cravath, the brilliant but inexperienced lawyer hired by Westinghouse to countersue the pugnacious Edison for copyright infringement, unscrupulous behavior, and even violence, provides a first-person perspective. Legal battles and the rancor between scientists drive the pace, while a curious romance unmasks yet another underhanded charade. Woven into this complex drama is a philosophical question about invention: Who is the inventor: the one with the idea, the one who makes a working model, or the one to obtain the patent? Who really did invent the lightbulb?
tillagd av kthomp25 | ändraBooklist (Apr 20, 2018)
 
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I have not failed. I've just found ten thousand ways that don't work. —Thomas Edison
People don't know what they want until you show it to them. —Steve Jobs
Don't you understand that Steve doesn't know anything about technology? He's just a super salesman.... He doesn't know anything about engineering, and 99 percent of what he says and thinks is wrong. —Bill Gates
No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude. —Karl Popper
Whoever lives for the sake of combating an enemy has an interest in the enemy's staying alive. —Friedrich Nietzsche
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FOR MY GRANDFATHER, DR. CHARLIE STEINER,
who first taught me to revere science on a trip to
Bell Laboratories when I was nine years old. He set an
example of intelligence, kindness, and decency to which I aspire every day.
Inledande ord
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On the day that he would first meet Thomas Edison, Paul watched a man burn alive in the sky above Broadway.
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The Western Union man was attempting to untangle the two sets of wires. He looked like a child flummoxed by enormous shoelaces.
Paul felt not only that the lights were new, but that he was. A spark of the filament, and he had been revealed as something he never thought he might be.
None of these early iterations were fit for the home—no wife in America would sanction the installation of a lamp that was confusing to use, expensive to repair, and more likely than not to set the drapes on fire.
That spring, the light-bulb lawsuits descended like locusts upon the land.
"It's one thing to design something, kid. Thomas Edison designs all manner of junk. It's another thing entirely to design something that can be practically built. A thing that will work. That is what a real inventor does. He designs manufacturable devices."
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Fiction. Thriller. Historical Fiction. HTML:NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ? ??A world of invention and skulduggery, populated by the likes of Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla.???Erik Larson
 
??A model of superior historical fiction . . . an exciting, sometimes astonishing story.???The Washington Post
  
From Graham Moore, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game and New York Times bestselling author of The Sherlockian, comes a thrilling novel??based on actual events??about the nature of genius, the cost of ambition, and the battle to electrify America.

New York, 1888. Gas lamps still flicker in the city streets, but the miracle of electric light is in its infancy. The person who controls the means to turn night into day will make history??and a vast fortune. A young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul??s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country?

The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society??the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions, and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing him is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal??private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown lawyer shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it?

In obsessive pursuit of victory, Paul crosses paths with Nikola Tesla, an eccentric, brilliant inventor who may hold the key to defeating Edison, and with Agnes Huntington, a beautiful opera singer who proves to be a flawless performer on stage and off. As Paul takes greater and greater risks, he??ll find that everyone in his path is playing their own game, and no one is quite who they seem.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

??A satisfying romp . . . Takes place against a backdrop rich with period detail . . . Works wonderfully as an entertainment . . . As it charges forward, the novel leaves no dot unconnected.???Noah

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