Customer Reviews for

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope

Average Rating 4.5
( 173 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Beautifully written, powerful story, and amazing young boy! Loved this book!

Even if you don't usually read nonfiction or memoirs, I still think that you'll love this book for the writing, the story, and because of William Kamkwamba.

William tells the story of his childhood in the small agricultural village in Malawi. From the the general bia...
Even if you don't usually read nonfiction or memoirs, I still think that you'll love this book for the writing, the story, and because of William Kamkwamba.

William tells the story of his childhood in the small agricultural village in Malawi. From the the general bias towards magic and superstition over science, the crippling impact of the drought, and the isolation and difficulties that William, his village, and Malawi, the obstacles that they face are huge and clear. Reading the book, I first thought that my experiences in the "Third World" helped me understand the William's life from the superstition to the the impact of the drought and the opportunistic price gouging during the famine. But that interpretation fails to give enough credit to William and his book. The power of his story and the clarity of the writing surely guarantee that The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind will speak to people regardless of their experience and their home country. I cannot recommend this book more! I look forward to more news from William Kamkwamba and to meeting him during his book tour stop in NYC.

Publisher: William Morrow (September 29, 2009), 288 pages.
Courtesy of the Harper Collins and the author.

posted by gl on August 31, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

An inspiration

William Kamkwamba¿s memoir tells the story of his life growing up in a poor African farming village in Malawi. Without running water or electricity, William and his family live a life of subsistence dependent upon the success of their annual maize crop. Raised in a cult...
William Kamkwamba¿s memoir tells the story of his life growing up in a poor African farming village in Malawi. Without running water or electricity, William and his family live a life of subsistence dependent upon the success of their annual maize crop. Raised in a culture entrenched in mysticism and superstition, William¿who must repeatedly drop out of school because his family is too poor to pay for his tuition and fees¿becomes curious about science. A chance encounter with a bicycle dynamo sparks his interest in electricity, and soon he is scavenging his village for any available resource that will help him build his inventions. While exiled from school, William spends a great deal of time in a village library, where he devours books on physics and mechanics, and¿with the help of his friends¿he builds a working windmill that supplies him and his family with electricity. This book, however, tells more than just the story of how William ¿harnessed the wind¿; it also tells of the abject poverty that is rampant throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa, the sickness its people endure (malaria chief among them), and the corrupt politics that dominate many African governments. Through all these hardships, William endures, persists, never abandons his goals. His story is, quite simply, an inspiration.

posted by JimRGill2012 on December 22, 2011

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  • Posted August 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Beautifully written, powerful story, and amazing young boy! Loved this book!

    Even if you don't usually read nonfiction or memoirs, I still think that you'll love this book for the writing, the story, and because of William Kamkwamba.

    William tells the story of his childhood in the small agricultural village in Malawi. From the the general bias towards magic and superstition over science, the crippling impact of the drought, and the isolation and difficulties that William, his village, and Malawi, the obstacles that they face are huge and clear. Reading the book, I first thought that my experiences in the "Third World" helped me understand the William's life from the superstition to the the impact of the drought and the opportunistic price gouging during the famine. But that interpretation fails to give enough credit to William and his book. The power of his story and the clarity of the writing surely guarantee that The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind will speak to people regardless of their experience and their home country. I cannot recommend this book more! I look forward to more news from William Kamkwamba and to meeting him during his book tour stop in NYC.

    Publisher: William Morrow (September 29, 2009), 288 pages.
    Courtesy of the Harper Collins and the author.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2009

    Awesome

    I found this book very enlightening, inspiring, and eye opening. I suggest everyone who has a heart to read ths story. I ended the book with the feeling of pride for William. It is always a good thing when anyone will do whatever it takes to achieve their desires and goals. Its easy for us as Amerians to take advantage of all that we have available to us and not appreciate them. We are spoiled, and we don't take the time to realize how needy others are around the world. This book has made me more appreciative what I have and has inspired me to help others in need.

    I enjoyed the book so much that I bought a second copy for my 15 year-old son.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 20, 2011

    Truly Incredible, Best Read in a While

    As a reader who is more interested in fiction than non-fiction, I was not certain what I would get when I began reading this book. But by the end, I realized I got not only satisfaction, but also a new look on dealing with adversity. The autobiogrpahy tells of how William Kamkwamba, an impoverished boy living in Malawi, Africa, is able to rise out of total poverty to create a windmill that brings electricity to his home town and inspiration to people around the world. The story is an absolute delight to read. It is full of anecdotes about Malawi that are both funny (the stories of witchcraft) and horrifying (the stories of eating sawdust to survive). In addition, the book illustrates Malawi as a whole by weaving the history and condition of the nation into the life of young William. The vivid realities of hunger and HIV are described without the stereotypical portrayal of Africa as the victim continent. However, some readers may be disturbed by the details, so be careful who you give this book too. Readers also may dislike the fact that the book is lacking in descriptions of landscape and setting. I found myself conjuring up the landscapes that I had seen in children's books about lions and elephants. Despite this, the relatively simple language of the book provides clarity to the reader, and results in the autobiography reading more like a novel. As a whole, the book was nearly impossible to put down, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes such novels as Three Cups of Tea, or who wants to both learn and be inspired.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A great and breezy read

    Part a snapshot of Malawian rural life & struggles, part an autobiography tracking the evolution of Mr. Kamkwamba's experiments and self-instruction through his teens, the book is a concise and well fleshed out story of overcoming adversity. The emotional and physical environment is very well conveyed from start to finish, making it easy to imagine being right there with him, every step of the way.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An inspiring true-life tale of a young man's quest to help his family against the life and death struggle against Malawi's worst famine in 50 years

    You can't help but be moved by the tale of William Kamkwamba, a poor young Malawian boy who was forced to drop out of high school for lack of school fees. Rather than waste his life, he decided to educate himself via a small library at his former primary school. He sees the cover of a 5th grade textbook from the United States which depicts a windmill, and decides to build one to power his family's home, despite no knowledge of exactly how to do so and no money for parts. Set against the backdrop of the country's worst famine in 50 years where people were literally starving to death, this story is also the journey of a boy who believes in magic to a young man of science. Co-written with journalist Bryan Mealer, the book reads like a novel. You'll find it lyrical, poignant and heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting. Perfect for anyone who enjoys thrilling and inspiring true-life tales. Recommended for bookclubs, gifts, do-it-yourself enthusiast (Makers!) and for middle school, high school and college readers.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    Fantastic!

    This is a powerful story. It is inspiring, enlightening. One boy gave the power of a windmill to his family. But by sharing his story he has sent hope and courage into the world.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 22, 2011

    An inspiration

    William Kamkwamba¿s memoir tells the story of his life growing up in a poor African farming village in Malawi. Without running water or electricity, William and his family live a life of subsistence dependent upon the success of their annual maize crop. Raised in a culture entrenched in mysticism and superstition, William¿who must repeatedly drop out of school because his family is too poor to pay for his tuition and fees¿becomes curious about science. A chance encounter with a bicycle dynamo sparks his interest in electricity, and soon he is scavenging his village for any available resource that will help him build his inventions. While exiled from school, William spends a great deal of time in a village library, where he devours books on physics and mechanics, and¿with the help of his friends¿he builds a working windmill that supplies him and his family with electricity. This book, however, tells more than just the story of how William ¿harnessed the wind¿; it also tells of the abject poverty that is rampant throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa, the sickness its people endure (malaria chief among them), and the corrupt politics that dominate many African governments. Through all these hardships, William endures, persists, never abandons his goals. His story is, quite simply, an inspiration.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Fascinating on many levels. Definately a must read

    This book was totally absorbing. A tale from Africa without War! The description of life before & during the drought was compelling. I finished this & then set about making teachers at my kids school aware of it. Both the science teacher & world geo were enthralled, would b a g8 bk 4 middle schoolers to read & an excellent one for the whole family to read & discuss. Can't rave about it enough. Look him & the book up on utube - both the Jon Stewart interview & the mini documentary about him are equally inspiring/entertaining.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2013

    I had to read this book once William¿s story was blogged on ever

    I had to read this book once William’s story was blogged on every site on the Web. I was fascinated that he brought such improvement to his family with just a single electric bulb. This book really highlights so much of what I take for granted in my comfortable suburban life. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2013

    William Kamkwamba is a clever man that was not swayed by what th

    William Kamkwamba is a clever man that was not swayed by what the neighbors thought. He created a windmill from virtual garbage and changed the opinions of his neighbors. He was no longer crazy but had harnessed magic. This is a wonderful memoir of innovation. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2013

    AMAZING STORY

    This is one of the most inspirational stories I have ever read. You will not be disappointed!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2013

    Review

    This remarkable journey of William Kamkwamba will leave readers very inspired and enlightened. I personally loved this book, from when he told us about his family, his dog Khamba, and the hardships he faced, to his great triumphs such as his windmill and the TED confrence. This book is well-written and I'd gladly recommend it to anyone

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    highly recommended

    I enjoyed reading this book and gave a copy to two of my grandchildren. It shows how one young man did amazing things because of his drive for an education and the drive to help his family and village.

    It, also, shows how lucky we are to live in a free country with so many opportunities, and how others suffer with not even enough food to eat.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2013

    Wonderful book

    It astounds me to have lived such an easy life while this amazing young man was helping his family stay alive. An easy read that will probably be of even greater interest to men. I reommend it to all my friends.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2010

    Rivetting

    Puts you there. What an incredible journey. Very inspiring story that will keep you reading all night. Passing it onto the kids.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 4, 2010

    Read this compelling memoir!

    THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND is definitely one of the most incredibly inspiring memoirs I have ever read. It tells the fascinating story of William Kamkwamba, a poor farmer's son in Malawi, Africa, a country struggling with widespread poverty. During a deadly 2002 drought and subsequent famine, life became a daily struggle to simply survive starvation. After discovering a diagram of a windmill in an old library textbook, 14-year-old William armed with a vision and admirable determination, builds his own windmill using discarded scraps. William's ingenious invention generates electricity for his home, which makes a profound difference in the lives of his family and the entire village. Repeatedly, I was impressed by his ability to persevere in spite of overwhelming obstacles. Eventually, his remarkable achievement receives worldwide acclamation.

    William (with co-writer Bryan Mealer) provides a compelling glimpse of the difficulties of his life that gave me a true sense of the harsh reality of poverty. He enlightened me with his knowledge of Malawi's culture and politics. As a science lover, I was enthralled by the steps William took in constructing his windmill! I thoroughly enjoyed this awe-inspiring book. It demonstrates how a dream, hope and dedication can change lives forever. I strongly recommend it for everyone!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An inspiring true-life tale of a young man's quest to help his family against the life and death struggle against Malawi's worst famine in 50 years

    You can't help but be moved by the tale of William Kamkwamba, a poor young Malawian boy who was forced to drop out of high school for lack of school fees. Rather than waste his life, he decided to educate himself via a small library at his former primary school. He sees the cover of a 5th grade textbook from the United States which depicts a windmill, and decides to build one to power his family's home, despite no knowledge of exactly how to do so and no money for parts. Set against the backdrop of the country's worst famine in 50 years where people were literally starving to death, this story is also the journey of a boy who believes in magic to a young man of science. Co-written with journalist Bryan Mealer, the book reads like a novel. You'll find it lyrical, poignant and heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting. Perfect for anyone who enjoys thrilling and inspiring true-life tales. Recommended for bookclubs, gifts, do-it-yourself enthusiast (Makers!) and for middle school, high school and college readers.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2014

    Highly Recommended

    I consider this to be one of the best books I've ever read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 18, 2014

    This was a very interesting read.  I didn't know what to think a

    This was a very interesting read.  I didn't know what to think about it at the beginning.  I know I have said this before, but I don't usually read book like this.  I read to escape reality, not read about it.  This was so interesting though.  




    While reading this book, I thought to myself over and over "how spoiled am I?".  This young man was poor, and wanted to go to school so bad, but had to give it up because his family couldn't pay for it.  Again, I thought, "man how lucky!  I HATED school".  Well, after reading this book, I am ever so grateful for the opportunity that I had to attend school.  




    William was an amazing young man.  He worked hard, and did things he had to to make things better for himself and his family.  He studied books in the library that he was interested in, and learned things on his own.  Sometimes by trial and error, but isn't that how we all learn things?  




    This reference may offend some, but this young man made me think a lot about some people in the scriptures.  He built something, and all the while people made fun of him.  It wasn't until they saw the result of his windmill, that people started to respect the work William was doing.  It made me think of Noah, and Nephi.  Why is it so hard for people to accept that others may have more inspiration than others?  Anyway, just a thought.




    I love the story in this book about how his parents met.  It is so sweet and so innocent.  Then when William meets his wife it's kind of the same thing.  It's sweet, and super cute. 




    This young man was such a great example of not giving up.  He wanted to learn, he wanted to build, and he wanted to make things better for his people.




    To me it doesn't seem like all that long ago that this book took place.  So, I was just a little blown away, at how different Williams life was compared to mine.  While his country was in a famine I was comfortably sitting in my house with plenty of food to eat, and water to drink.  It really made me reflect on all the blessing I have.  




    While William, was building his windmill and having so many problems with it, all I could think is "man, this young man should see Palm Springs, CA".  Well, in the book he gets invited to Palm Springs, to see the windmill farms.  While he was struggling to build ONE, we in America had thousands.  It was so eye opening to me on so many levels.




    This young man went through a lot of hardships in his life, yet he always worked hard, and never gave up.  I love William.  I think he is the kind of man, that I would like my son to become.  He is intelligent, kind, inventive, loving, and a hard worker.  All great qualities.  




    I really enjoy reading, and learning from this book.  It was enlightening, and so what I needed to read right now.  I will have to remember this book, and many others I have read, when I start to feel "down" about what I have and what I don't have.  After reading this book, I have absolutely no room to complain.  I am blessed beyond measure.  I am so thankful for all the good things that happen to William because of his hard work.  I am sure even today he is an amazing man.  He is the perfect example of "you can do anything, if you put your mind to it"!




    Source:  I purchased this book from Amazon for myself.  I am not affiliated with Amazon, and was not compensated for this review.  These are my own PERSONAL thoughts on the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2014

    Hi

    Bye

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