Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World

Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World In The Final Decades Of The Nineteenth Century, Three Brilliant And Visionary Titans Of America S Gilded Age Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, And George Westinghouse Battled Bitterly As Each Vied To Create A Vast And Powerful Electrical Empire In Empires Of Light, Historian Jill Jonnes Portrays This Extraordinary Trio And Their Riveting And Ruthless World Of Cutting Edge Science, Invention, Intrigue, Money, Death, And Hard Eyed Wall Street Millionaires At The Heart Of The Story Are Thomas Alva Edison, The Nation S Most Famous And Folksy Inventor, Creator Of The Incandescent Light Bulb And Mastermind Of The World S First Direct Current Electrical Light Networks The Serbian Wizard Of Invention Nikola Tesla, Elegant, Highly Eccentric, A Dreamer Who Revolutionized The Generation And Delivery Of Electricity And The Charismatic George Westinghouse, Pittsburgh Inventor And Tough Corporate Entrepreneur, An Industrial Idealist Who In The Era Of Gaslight Imagined A World Powered By Cheap And Plentiful Electricity And Worked Heart And Soul To Create It Edison Struggled To Introduce His Radical New Direct Current DC Technology Into The Hurly Burly Of New York City As Tesla And Westinghouse Challenged His Dominance With Their Alternating Current AC , Thus Setting The Stage For One Of The Eeriest Feuds In American Corporate History, The War Of The Electric Currents The Battlegrounds Wall Street, The Chicago World S Fair, Niagara Falls, And, Finally, The Death Chamber Jonnes Takes Us On The Tense Walk Down A Prison Hallway And Into The Sunlit Room Where William Kemmler, Convicted Ax Murderer, Became The First Man To Die In The Electric Chair Empires Of Light Is The Gripping History Of Electricity, The Mysterious Fluid, And How The Fateful Collision Of Edison, Tesla, And Westinghouse Left The World Utterly Transformed From The Hardcover Edition

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[Read] ➭ Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World By Jill Jonnes – Webcambestmilf.info
  • Paperback
  • 464 pages
  • Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World
  • Jill Jonnes
  • English
  • 14 March 2018
  • 9780375758843

10 thoughts on “Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World

  1. says:

    I seem to have a bad track record in picking technology I was one of those who plumped for HD DVD instead of the now ubiquitous Blu Ray I was obsessed with my MiniDisc player long after music companies had stopped bothering to release anything on the format and back home, in a cupboard somewhere, my family still has the old Betamax player that I remember trying to get excited about while all my friends had gone with VHS It was better, I m telling you So I sympathise with those on the wrong side of the original standards war the nineteenth century showdown between DC and AC electricity At stake was limitless commercial opportunity, as American cities gradually became convinced of the benefits of adopting electric power and each side of the debate had its own big name champions.In the red corner, for DC, the Wizard of Menlo Park himself Thomas Edison He pumped millions of dollars and several years of his life into the quest to find a practical commercial lightbulb, and DC power was the lynchpin of his schemes for expansion.Against him, in the blue corner, was a dream combination of genius industrialist George Westinghouse, and crazed ahead of his time dreamer Nikola Tesla, who both saw the possibilities of AC.The battle was astonishingly acrimonious, and full of bizarre turns When the state of New York began to consider whether electricity might make a humane alternative to hanging as a form of capital punishment, Edison and his DC supporters immediately wrote to the authorities to recommend AC power, hoping to rebrand their opponents standard as the executioner s current The first victim of the electric chair was indeed executed messily and not quickly by alternating current in Buffalo in 1890 It has become fashionable in this narrative to revere Tesla as a maligned visionary, and consequently to cast Edison as an uncreative drudge who just happened to be superbly well funded There is a grain of truth somewhere in this, but it s also clear that Tesla could be difficult and he was not good at communicating let alone monetising his ideas His catalogue of OCDish, quasi autistic foibles didn t help He silently counted each step he took as he made his early morning walk down to the Ivry factory Every activity ideally had to be divisible by three hence the twenty seven laps each morning in the Seine Before eating or drinking anything, he felt obliged to calculate its cubic contents He deeply disliked shaking hands with anyone He had a violent aversion against the earrings of women, pearls above all I would not touch the hair of other people except, perhaps, at the point of a revolver The mere sight of a peach brought on a fever Moreover, Tesla could and happily did recite long swathes of Serbian poetry from heart.He sounds amazing fun, but a bit of a nightmare as a business partner.In the end, Tesla was right but na ve, while Edison was wrong but stubborn George Westinghouse the unexpected hero of the book found the best balance The fact is that DC power is simply very inefficient and expensive over long distances, and a new generator was needed in every square mile to be powered one every few blocks, in town AC, by contract, can be transmitted vast distances, so that a remote hydroelectric station can light up cities that are many miles away.I would have liked scientific detail on the physics behind all this, and as it was I had to supplement this book with various enlightening excursions to Wikipedia and YouTube Jonnes also allows herself to get a bit carried away on occasion one of those delicious fall Saturdays where the very air shimmers sweetly, full of life s promise and yet tempered by autumnal tristesse tristesse, really.Nevertheless, this story of America s Gilded Age and the personalities behind the electric revolution is very well told It was a time of remarkable, almost unbelievable scientific progress, and progress over that was immediately pumped visibly into commercial circulation It wasn t like the Higgs Boson a breakthrough in the lab on Monday would be crowbarred onto the High Street by the weekend The effect must have been like living in a science fiction novel But then what do I know I said the same thing about my Betamax Feb 2014

  2. says:

    This was the story of Thomas Alva Edison, George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla , who collectively and individually did so much to change the economic and physical conditions of everyone in the world About a year ago I read a novel about these three individuals It incorporated factual events but also turned their lives into a melodramatic soap opera, so of course it was sold to Hollywood I wanted to know the real story behind the spread of electricity and these brilliant, ambitious and driven men Empires of Light is what I was looking for.Edison was a partially deaf inventor who got his start with the telegraph Westinghouse was a Pittsburgh industrialist who made his name with inventions for railroads Tesla was a Serbian genius and dandy with OCD Most of the book was devoted to the AC DC battle Edison was the advocate of direct current although it involved setting up numerous central stations because it couldn t travel than half a mile He thought alternating current was too dangerous and recommended its use in capital punishment It was, in fact, used in the first electric chair Westinghouse and Tesla believed in the future of alternating current, and AC ultimately prevailed once a way was found to lessen the danger The war continued to be fought at The White City fair in Chicago I liked the author s description of the dazzle, spectacle and magic of electricity at the fair Inventions of all three men were featured there In edition to the spread of electricity, these men were also instrumental in the development of light bulbs, phonographs, movies, iron ore extraction, wireless transmission, radios and much and were the holders of thousands of patents They faced setbacks in their commercial operations, however, and both Edison and Westinghouse wound up being ousted from their companies by financiers Tesla never was particularly adept at exploiting the commercial possibilities of his inventions.This book was comprehensive, sometimes to a fault I know that there is tendency, when you have done a lot of research, to want to include everything you found out, but some descriptions and details could have been omitted I also wanted to skip over the dog electrocution experiments and the details of the first execution, but it s hard to do in an audiobook However, it was fascinating to read about how these men converged.

  3. says:

    Instead of writing about one of these great titans Edison, Tesla or Westinghouse, Jill Jonnes chose to write about all three in one book Jonnes focused on the race to control electricity delivery to the country The battle between Edison and Tesla was whether electricity should be delivered and put to use as direct or alternating current Edison backed direct and Tesla alternating current Westinghouse jumped into the fray to control the delivery to business and homes throughout the country Westinghouse and Tesla teamed up to harness the Niagara Falls in 1895 to deliver electricity According to Jonnes electricity unleashed a Second Industrial Revolution.The book is well written and meticulously researched The book covers a broad spectrum picture of the race to electrify the nation The book is well organized The book covers everything from the biographies of the three men to the science of electricity, to business and finance Of the three men, it is Tesla that has fascinated me since I studied him in college.Jill Jonnes has her degree in history from John Hopkins University In this book, she demonstrates the ability to portray the broad picture of history in the style of the late Stephen Ambrose She is definitely an author to watch.I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible The book is almost seventeen hours long Chris Sorensen does a great job narrating the book Sorensen is a screenwriter, playwright and award winning audiobook narrator.

  4. says:

    The book describes the battles and struggles that had led to the electrifying of America Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, had discovered direct current electricity However, a genius working for Edison Nikola Tesla had discovered alternating current Edison viewed alternating current as dangerous As a result, a man with a great business acumen, George Westinghouse lured Tesla to his company in Pittsburgh Tesla also developed the induction motor which needed alternating current to work and created a useful use for electricity Thomas Edison who held tremendous prestige as a world famous inventor did everything he could to discredit alternating current as too dangerous The problem with direct current is that the power source had to be close to where the electricity was being distributed On the other hand, alternating current power stations can be miles away from their intended release Edison had outfitted the New York elite with direct current to provide light at night At the same time he had delegates apply alternating current to dogs to prove how deadly alternating current is This act did not help Edison s case because the alternating current made the dogs suffer and the torturing of an animals alienated a lot of people Westinghouse and Tesla s alternating current won the debate And it s usefulness came into fashion when a mammoth 6 million dollar undertaking took place by diverting water from Niagara Falls which culminated into producing alternating current electricity to businesses in Buffalo The most interesting part of the book is Chapter 13 Afterward The author, Jill Jones, described what happened to the 3 men most responsible for electrifying America Thomas Edison, who relied on wealthy men s money to fund his adventures, was forced into a merger with a competitor, by JP Morgan who named the new business General Electric ultimately forcing Edison to quit his own company Afterwards, Edison struggled for funds but did manage to develop a motion picture machine George Westinghouse, story is not as happy He comes out of this book as a real good guy His tremendous company had thousands of employees He spared no expense on research and paid his employees well This led his company into debt Then when the Panic of 1907 hit his creditors came to recoup their money Westinghouse tried to borrow but the Banks were broke As a result, he filed for bankruptcy He considered it just a set back and promised workers that they would get their jobs back To get the business back he makes the company public to gain the money he needs However, a hostile takeover of his business came shortly afterwards and he lost his company Near his death he said, if some day they say of me that with my work I have contributed something to the welfare and happiness of my fellow men, I shall be satisfied He can rest being very satisfied Nikola Tesla is another story His genius in electricity had made him a celebrity However, when he needed money to fund his scientific adventures he came under JP Morgan s money spell Morgan lent him money but forced him to hand over Tesla s patents for his discoveries in return Without regard to the necessary time it takes for such an undertaking as Tesla s goal of producing one electric generator to produce electrify for the whole country, Morgan pulled the plug on him Tesla, without any income asked Morgan for money Morgan flatly refused The Waldorf Astoria in NYC was kind enough to let Tesla live there for free Then when JP Morgan died his son generously provided Tesla with a stipend.Tesla retired as an eccentric living with his beloved pigeon The characteristic which was most evident in both Edison and Westinghouse was their optimism Nothing dissuaded their pursuit of producing electricity And all three had a tremendous vision of what was then thought of as impossible There is nothing important than this discovery which made life easier and pleasant.

  5. says:

    INTERESTING AND INFORMATIVE No will men be slaves to hard tasks My motor will set them free, it will do the work of the world Nikola Teslar Kindle Locations 1578 1579 Although reading Empires of Light Edison, Teslar, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World, by Jill Jonnes was a bit of a slog at times, its wealth of interesting anecdotes and solid information makes it a four star read From Thomas Edison s promotion of his competitor s, George Westinghouse s, high voltage AC current for the electric chair for its negative publicity value , to the building of the huge turbines for the first hydro electric installation at Niagara Falls, to the amazing electric dreams of Nikola Tesla there s plenty here to spark the imagination.Recommendation For keen insights into the dawn of the age, and of the business of electricity, this is an excellent place to start Great indeed are the powers of electricity Kindle Location 5681 Random House Publishing Group Kindle Edition 7,512 Kindle Locations, 464 pages.

  6. says:

    This book was fantastic, an entertaining look into the early advent of electricity Part of the strength of the book was in little non sequiturs like this one They would share the nighttime streets with the city s denizens of the dark, including the great army of rag pickers and their dog pulled wooden carts, each licensed to root through the daily refuse for salvageable cloth.which generally made me want information about some unrelated but fascinating topic.Here s a favorite quote from the book although credit goes largely to Tesla, rather than the author Tesla understood that many branded him a visionary for his deep belief that in time energy would be easily extracted from the universe around us But he pointed out, We are whirling through endless space with an inconceivable speed, all around us everything is spinning, everything is moving, everywhere is energy There must be some way of availing ourselves of this energy directly Then, with the light obtained from the medium, with the power derived from it, with every form of energy obtained without effort, from the store ever inexhaustible, humanity will advance with giant strides The mere contemplation of those magnificent possibilities expands our minds, strengthens our hopes and fills our hearts with supreme delight.

  7. says:

    This was a wonderful little volume that filled in details for me on the War of the Currents, while also providing great background, and good information on George Westinghouse, Nikola Tesla, and Thomas Edison I was fairly aware of Edison and Tesla, even if I didn t remember all of the details, and Jonnes does a great job explaining their origins, their triumphs, and their weaknesses as people The rise of Edison and Tesla were told such that it was fun and I did not want to stop reading For me what really sets this off is the coverage of George Westinghouse I only know the name of the company, and didn t realize he had such vision and seemed to be such a good employer or director of a company for the good of society in a day of robber barons His treatment of employees and his idea that profits are not the prime directive for his companies, but that progress and helping society really makes him shine The explanations of electricity are non technical and so the reader should not worry about this being difficult to understand The advantages and disadvantage of AC and DC as time went on are well explained along with Tesla s crucial role in the AC motor and Westinghouse in commercializing it The dream of electricity for everyone to reduce hard labor is a goal that has come to fruition unlike even they imagined.Just a nice, interesting story being told about an exciting time in the US s past, and about the rise of electricity and lighting It s heavily US centric, but that is where the War of the Currents mostly seemed to play out If you d like to learn about Tesla, Edison, and Westinghouse, this is a great place to start.One person that is missed in the analysis of the book are the accomplishments of Charles Steinmetz who was very important in the spreading of AC power, especially of 3 phase systems.I should also add that the book has some repetitive phrases in descriptions of people, esp JP Morgan, but that these didn t overly bother me edited 02 20 2019 to add caveat about no mention of Charles Steinmitz and being clearer about robber barons 02 21 2019 went with 4 stars under further consideration

  8. says:

    I had a longer review, which got eaten by a refresh page, so tl dr, this is an okay but light popular history, with Westinghouse and AC as the protagonist It s best talking about the sensational safety maneuverings around the battle of the currents, including the first execution via electric chair, and gruesome public demos where dogs and horses were electrocuted, but it has a rather surface level take on technology and corporate politics Still interested to compare electricity in 1890 to dotcoms in 1990, and contemporary Silicon Valley excess, and this book is probably readable than David Nye s Electrifying America.

  9. says:

    I am disappointed and would not recommend this book It was a real chore to complete.Disappointed because author Jill Jonnes picked a topic that should have been a sure thing She obviously immersed herself in the lives of Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse and knows the science at least well enough to write about it.The problem with this book boils down to the author The writing, book organization, and length are dreadful First, the organization It helps with a non fiction book like this one to organize either chronologically my preference or thematically This one is all over the place and it makes it very hard to follow Next, the writing Its tortuous Jonnes seems to believe is always better than less This applies specifically to adjectives, but also to word count in general We also endure repeated character descriptions i.e J.P Morgan s large nose We take turns down bunny trails A few tie into the story, but a number have nothing to do with the story for example, a scandal about Rev Charles Parkhurst no relation to the story I eventually came to the conclusion that we get heavy doses of book filler Which makes the final point The book is too long I don t mean to be harsh, this story had has high promise A good editor maybe could have helped turn this into a very good interesting book It just didn t happen.

  10. says:

    I ve been sitting on writing this review for the last couple weeks because my thoughts were all over the place with it, but that hasn t seemed to have changed with time I think it s a sign.Empires of Light covered every base that you can likely think of within the realm of electricity and how it evolved into an everyday convenience While the scope is narrowed, in theory, to the contributions and legacies of Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse, the fact that these were the big three in their field was casting the net a bit wide Among other things, attention was paid to the legal battles that arose from this new technology and the battle for supremacy over it by these three men the science behind creating, storing, transporting, and using electricity its application in crime and punishment and societal issues And that just barely touches the surface here There was an extensive amount of information here and much of it was physics and very technical, which went WAY over my head seeing as I never took physics in school I think my husband would have a greater appreciation for this aspect of the book than I would as he is very into that area of science This felt especially true in the section about Tesla and his extensive work on alternating current He was a man ahead of his time for sure and in some ways still is in my opinion.While the technical aspects of the science went beyond what I could really appreciate to be honest, my eyes sort of glazed over during that segment I found the societal implications of electricity to be fascinating My area of expertise being crime and sociology there was plenty to pique my interest The use of electricity as a means of punishment was new at that time and the author took a painstaking interest in describing for the reader just how those early attempts at the death penalty went I will strongly recommend you not be eating during this section and possibly skipping it if you have a weak stomach or don t want to be exposed to basically the torture of people and animals in the name of science It grossed me out and I have a pretty high tolerance for reading about that kind of stuff in a historical context I was able to make ties between this book and Devil in the White City by Erik Larson because Edison makes a large contribution to the electrical demonstration in the Columbian Exposition which was also a focal point of that book too While I struggled with some of the science, there was a lot that I could get behind here too.Audiobook DiscussionI think I would have been better off reading this book in print over listening to it on audio for a couple reasons I think with the subject matter being something almost beyond my ability to comprehend it, if reading in print I would have been apt to put it down, look some things up, and then come back to it Having it in my ear, I just let it keep running past things I didn t know It also felt very heavy and dense being read to me, it just couldn t keep my attention for long periods of time I would have to listen to it in 15 or 20 minute intervals which made for a long reading period in order to finish this book I also had a little struggle with settling in with the narrator His manner of speech and intonation always made it sound like he was asking a question at the end of every sentence It took me a LONG TIME to get past this being an issue that was driving me to distraction also probably a contributing factor in my need to only listen to short bursts at a time A different choice of narrator might have made it palatable, but I still stand by the concept that the material here is just a little dense for the casual reader to be comfortable with, however if you are an engineer or has a solid grasp of physics where the technical aspects of electricity are commonplace, you might not have as difficult a listen as I did.This review was previously posted on The Maiden s Court blog, and a copy was received for review.

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