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

( 173 )

Overview

A windmill means more than just power, it means freedom."

William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find. But William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy, and he dreamed of building one that would bring electricity and water to his village and change his life and the ...

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

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Overview

A windmill means more than just power, it means freedom."

William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find. But William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy, and he dreamed of building one that would bring electricity and water to his village and change his life and the lives of those around him. His neighbors may have mocked him and called him misala-crazy-but William was determined to show them what a little grit and ingenuity could do.

Enchanted by the workings of electricity as a boy, William had a goal to study science in Malawi's top boarding schools. But in 2002, his country was stricken with a famine that left his family's farm devastated and his parents destitute. Unable to pay the eighty¬dollar¬a¬year tuition for his education, William was forced to drop out and help his family forage for food as thousands across the country starved and died.

Yet William refused to let go of his dreams. With nothing more than a fistful of cornmeal in his stomach, a small pile of once¬forgotten science textbooks, and an armory of curiosity and determination, he embarked on a daring plan to bring his family a set of luxuries that only two percent of Malawians could afford and what the West considers a necessity-electricity and running water. Using scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle halves, William forged a crude yet operable windmill, an unlikely contraption and small miracle that eventually powered four lights, complete with homemade switches and a circuit breaker made from nails and wire. Asecond machine turned a water pump that could battle the drought and famine that loomed with every season.

Soon, news of William's magetsi a mphepo-his "electric wind"-spread beyond the borders of his home, and the boy who was once called crazy became an inspiration to those around the world. Here is the remarkable story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual's ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him.

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  • William Kamkwamba
    William Kamkwamba  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
William Kamkwamba, the youthful author of this book, was born in Malawi, an African nation best known for its harrowing poverty, its AIDS epidemic, and its long-term food crisis. In 2001, William was just 14 years old when the country was struck by the greatest famine within memory. With his family now too poor to pay his $80-a-year tuition, this eager learner was forced to leave school. Against those staggering odds, he continued to read, learn, and experiment. Inspired by a few old school textbooks, he devised a primitive working windmill, cobbled together from bicycle parts, blue-gum trees, and other makeshift scraps. With his homemade invention, he gave his family and himself electricity and a new start. Inspiring and refreshing as the wind.
Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

American readers will have their imaginations challenged by 14-year-old Kamkwamba's description of life in Malawi, a famine-stricken, land-locked nation in southern Africa: math is taught in school with the aid of bottle tops ("three Coca-Cola plus ten Carlsberg equal thirteen"), people are slaughtered by enemy warriors "disguised... as green grass" and a ferocious black rhino; and everyday trading is "replaced by the business of survival" after famine hits the country. After starving for five months on his family's small farm, the corn harvest slowly brings Kamkwamba back to life. Witnessing his family's struggle, Kamkwamba's supercharged curiosity leads him to pursue the improbable dream of using "electric wind"(they have no word for windmills) to harness energy for the farm. Kamkwamba's efforts were of course derided; salvaging a motley collection of materials, from his father's broken bike to his mother's clothes line, he was often greeted to the tune of "Ah, look, the madman has come with his garbage." This exquisite tale strips life down to its barest essentials, and once there finds reason for hopes and dreams, and is especially resonant for Americans given the economy and increasingly heated debates over health care and energy policy.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

George Ayittey
"An inspiring tale of an African Cheetah—the new generation of young Africans who won’t sit and wait for corrupt and incompetent governments—or vampire states— to come and do things for them. Here is one who harnessed the wind to generate electricity for his village—on his own."
Al Gore
“William Kamkwamba’s achievements with wind energy should serve as a model of what one person, with an inspired idea, can do to tackle the crisis we face. His book tells a moving and exciting story.”
Walter Isaacson
“This is an amazing, inspiring and heartwarming story! It’s about harnessing the power not just of the wind, but of imagination and ingenuity. Those are the most important forces we have for saving our planet. William Kamkwamba is a hero for our age.”
Chris Anderson
“I first met William on stage at TED.... His story, told in just a couple of minutes, was both astonishing and exhilarating. This book proves what those few minutes hinted at: a remarkable individual capable of inspiring many to take their future into their own hands.”
Carter Roberts
“This book.... is a testament to the power of a dream and the freedom that comes from accomplishing a sustainable way of life. Read this book, act on its message and pass it on.”
Cameron Sinclair
“A powerful read. This book takes you on a journey to discover pure innovation and the unfolding story of a natural genius. A true vision of struggle and tenacity to make a bold idea become a reality. This should be required reading for anyone who dares to dream.”
Seth Godin
“A moving, touching, important story. One more reminder of how small the world is and how powerful the human spirit can be.”
Alex Steffen
“Wonderful! I challenge you to read this story of one young man changing his corner of the world with nothing but intelligence and perseverance and not come away more hopeful about the prospects for a brighter, greener future.”
Emeka Okafor
“Beyond opening the door to a nascent genre of African Innovation literature, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind makes excuses about why Africans can’t change their fates untenable. This potent, powerful, and uplifting message is the heart of William Kamkwamba’s courageous story.”
Amy Smith
“ In this book, the spirit, resilience and resourcefulness that are Africa’s greatest strengths shine through.... The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a remarkable story about a remarkable young man and his inquisitive and inventive mind.”
Mark Frauenfelder
“One of the best books I’ve ever read.”
Ethan Zuckerman
“I was moved first to laughter, and then to tears by William’s explanation of how he turned some PVC pipe, a broken bicycle and some long wooden poles into a machine capable of generating sufficient current to power lights and a radio in his parents’ house.
Erik Hersman
“A rare and inspiring story of hope in rural Africa....William represents a new generation of Africans, using ingenuity and invention to overcome life’s challenges. Where so many tilt at windmills, William builds them!”
Professor George Ayittey
“An inspiring tale of an African Cheetah—the new generation of young Africans who won’t sit and wait for corrupt and incompetent governments—or vampire states— to come and do things for them. Here is one who harnessed the wind to generate electricity for his village—on his own.”
Chris Abani
“William will challenge everything you have thought about Africa, about young people, and about the power of one person to transform a community. This beautifully written book will open your heart and mind. I was moved by William and his story and believe you all will. Essential, powerful and compelling.”
Nicholas Negroponte
“William Kamkwamba is an alchemist who turned misfortune into opportunity, opportunity beyond his own. The book is about learning by inventing. William’s genius was to be ingenious.”
Nathaniel Whittemore
“The book abounds with themes that resonate deeply: the idea that with hard work and persistence comes triumph; that optimism is not a mental state but a type of action, that from grief and loss can come success.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061730337
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/27/2010
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 290
  • Sales rank: 19,418
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 5.36 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

William Kamkwamba

William Kamkwamba was a 2007 TED Global Fellow and a finalist for the Tech Museum Award. He is a student at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Bryan Mealer is the author of All Things Must Fight to Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo. He is a former Associated Press staff correspondent and his work has appeared in several magazines, including Harper's and Esquire. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Read an Excerpt

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
By William Kamkamba, Bryan Mealer

William Morrow Paperbacks

Copyright © 2010 William Kamkamba, Bryan Mealer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061730337


Chapter One

Before I discovered the miracles of science, magic
ruled the world.
Magic and its many mysteries were a presence that
hovered about constantly, giving me my earliest memory as a
boy—the time my father saved me from certain death and
became the hero he is today.
I was six years old, playing in the road, when a group of herd
boys approached, singing and dancing. This was in Masitala village
near the city of Kasungu, where my family lived on a farm. The
herd boys worked for a nearby farmer who kept many cows. They
explained how they'd been tending their herd that morning and
discovered a giant sack in the road. When they opened it up, they found
it filled with bubble gum. Can you imagine such a treasure? I can't
tell you how much I loved bubble gum.
"Should we give some to this boy?" one asked.
I didn't move or breathe. There were dead leaves in my hair.
"Eh, why not?" said another. "Just look at him."
One of the boys reached into the bag and pulled out a handful
of gumballs, one for every color, and dropped them into my hands. I
stuffed them all in my mouth. As the boys left, I felt the sweet juice
roll down my chin and soak my shirt.
The following day, I was playing under the mango tree when a
trader on a bicycle stopped to chat with my father. He said that while
on his way to the market the previous morning, he'd dropped one of
his bags. By the time he'd realized what had happened and circled
back, someone had taken it. The bag was filled with bubble gum, he
said. Some fellow traders had told him about the herd boys passing
out gum in the villages, and this made him very angry. For two days
he'd been riding his bicycle throughout the district looking for the
boys. He then issued a chilling threat.
"I've gone to see the sing'anga, and whoever ate that gum will soon
be sorry."
The sing'anga was the witch doctor.
I'd swallowed the gum long before. Now the sweet, lingering
memory of it soured into poison on my tongue. I began to sweat; my heart
was beating fast. Without anyone seeing, I ran into the blue gum grove
behind my house, leaned against a tree, and tried to make myself clean.
I spit and hocked, shoved my finger into my throat, anything to rid my
body of the curse. I came up dry. A bit of saliva colored the leaves at my
feet, so I covered them with dirt.
But then, as if a dark cloud had passed over the sun, I felt the
great eye of the wizard watching me through the trees. I'd eaten his
juju and now his darkness owned me. That night, the witches would
come for me in my bed. They'd take me aboard their planes and force
me to fight, leaving me for dead along the magic battlefields. And as
my soul drifted alone and forsaken above the clouds, my body would
be cold by morning. A fear of death swept over me like a fever.
I began crying so hard I couldn't move my legs. The tears
ran hot down my face, and as they did, the smell of poison filled
my nose. It was everywhere inside me. I fl ed the forest as fast as
possible , trying to get away from the giant magic eye. I ran all the
way home to where my father sat against the house, plucking a pile
of maize. I wanted to throw my body under his, so he could protect
me from the devil.
"It was me," I said, the tears drowning my words. "I ate the
stolen gum. I don't want to die, Papa. Don't let them take me!"
My father looked at me for a second, then shook his head.
"It was you, eh?" he said, then kind of smiled.
Didn't he realize I was done for?
"Well," he said, and rose from the chair. His knees popped whenever
he stood. My father was a big man. "Don't worry. I'll find this
trader and explain. I'm sure we can work out something."
That afternoon, my
father walked eight kilometers
to a place called
Masaka where the trader
lived. He told the man
what had happened,
about the herd boys coming
by and giving me the
stolen gum. Then without
question, my father
paid the man for his
entire bag, which amounted
to a full week's pay.
That evening after
supper, my life having
been saved, I asked my
father about the curse,
and if he'd truly
believed I was finished. He
straightened his face and
became very serious.
"Oh yes, we were just in time," he said, then started laughing in
that way that made me so happy, his big chest heaving and causing
the wooden chair to squeal. "William, who knows what was in store
for you?"
Me as a young boy standing with my father in Masitala
village. To me, he was the biggest and strongest man in
the world.


My father was strong and feared no magic, but he knew all the
stories. On nights when there was no moon, we'd light a lamp and
gather in our living room. My sisters and I would sit at my father's
feet, and he'd explain the ways of the world, how magic had been
with us from the beginning. In a land of poor farmers, there were too
many troubles for God and man alone. To compensate for this
imbalance, he said, magic existed as a third and powerful force. Magic
wasn't something you could see, like a tree, or a woman carrying
water. Instead, it was a force invisible and strong like the wind, or a
spider's web spun across the trail. Magic existed in story, and one of
our favorites was of Chief Mwase and the Battle of Kasungu.
In the early nineteenth century, and even today, the Chewa
people were the rulers of the central plains. We'd fl ed there many
generations before from the highlands of southern Congo during a
time of great war and sickness, and settled where the soil was reddish
black and fertile as the days were long.
During this time, just northwest of our village, a ferocious black
rhino began wreaking terror across the land. He was bigger than a
three-ton lorry, with horns the length of my father's arms and points as
sharp as daggers. Back then, the villagers and animals shared the same
watering hole, and the rhino would submerge himself in the shallows
and wait. Those visiting the spring were mostly women and young girls
like my mother and sisters. As they dipped their pails into the water,
the rhino would attack, stabbing and stomping them with its mighty
hooves, until there was nothing left but bloody rags. Over a period of
months, the feared black rhino had killed over a hundred people.
One afternoon, a young girl from the royal Chewa family was
stomped to death at the spring. When the chief heard about this, he
became very angry and decided to act. He gathered his elders and
warriors to make a plan.
"This thing is a real menace," the chief said. "How can we get
rid of it?"
There were many ideas, but none seemed to impress the chief.
Finally one of his assistants stood up.
"I know this man in Lilongwe," he said. "He's not a chief, but he
owns one of the azungu's guns, and he's very good at magic. I'm certain
his magical calculations are strong enough to defeat this black rhino."
This man was Mwase Chiphaudzu, whose magic was so superior
he was renowned across the kingdom. Mwase was a magic hunter.
His very name meant "killer grass" because he was able to disguise himself as
a cluster of reeds in the fields, allowing him to ambush his prey. The chief's
people traveled a hundred kilometers to Lilongwe and
summoned Mwase, who agreed to assist his brothers in Kasungu .
One morning, Mwase arrived at the watering hole well before the
sun. He stood in the tall grass near the shores and sprinkled magic
water over his body and rifle. Both of them vanished, becoming only
music in the breeze. Minutes later, the black rhino thundered over
the hill and made his way toward the spring. As he plunged his heavy
body into the shallows, Mwase crept behind him and put a bullet
into his skull. The rhino crumpled dead.
The celebrations began immediately. For three days, villagers
from across the district feasted on the meat of the terrible beast that
had taken so many lives. During the height of the festivities, the chief
took Mwase to the top of the highest hill and looked down where the
Chewa ruled. This hill was Mwala wa Nyenje, meaning "The Rock
of the Edible Flies," named after the cliffs at its summit and the fat
delicious flies that lived in its trees.
Standing atop the Rock of the Edible Flies, the chief pointed
down to a giant swath of green earth and turned to Mwase.
"Because you killed that horrible and most feared beast, I have a
prize for you," he said. "I hereby grant you power over this side of the
mountain and all that's visible from its peak. Go get your people and
make this your home. This is now your rule."
So Mwase returned to Lilongwe and got his family, and before
long, he'd established a thriving empire. His farmland produced
abundant maize and vegetables that fed the entire region. His people
were strong, and his warriors were powerful and feared.
But around this time, a great chaos erupted in the Zulu kingdom
of South Africa. The army of the Zulu king, Shaka, began a
bloody campaign to conquer the land surrounding his kingdom, and
this path of terror and destruction caused millions to flee. One such
group was the Ngoni.
The Ngoni people marched north for many months and finally
stopped in Chewa territory, where the soil was moist and fertile.
But because they were constantly on the move, hunger visited them
often. When this happened, they would travel farther north and ask
for help from Chief Mwase, who always assisted them with maize
and goats. One day, after accepting another of Mwase's handouts,
the Ngoni chiefs sat down and said, "How can we always have this
kind of food?"
Someone replied, "Eliminate the Chewa."
The Ngoni were led by Chief Nawambe, whose plan was to
capture the Rock of the Edible Flies and all the land visible from
its peak. However, the Ngoni did not know how magical Chief
Mwase was.
One morning, the Ngoni came up the mountain dressed in
animal skins, holding massive shields in one hand and spears
in the other. But of course, Chief Mwase's warriors had spotted
them from miles away. By the time the Ngoni reached the hill,
the Chewa warriors had disguised themselves as green grass and
slayed the intruders with knives and spears. The last man to die
was Chief Nawambe. For this reason, the mountain was changed
from the Rock of the Edible Flies to Nguru ya Nawambe, which
means simply "The Deadly Defeat of Nawambe." This same hill
now casts a long shadow over the city of Kasungu, just near my
village.
These stories had been passed down from generation to
generation, with my father having learned them from my grandpa. My
father's father was so old he couldn't remember when he was born. His
skin was so dry and wrinkled, his feet looked like they were chiseled from
stone. His overcoat and trousers seemed older than he was, the way they
were patched and hung on his body like the bark of an ancient tree. He rolled
fat cigars from maize husks and field tobacco, and his eyes were red from
kachaso, a maize liquor so strong it left weaker men blind.
Grandpa visited us once or twice a month. Whenever he emerged
from the edge of the trees in his long coat and hat, a trail of smoke rising
from his lips, it was as if the forest itself had taken legs and walked.
The stories Grandpa told were from a different time and place.
When he was young—before the government maize and tobacco
estates arrived and cleared most of our trees—the forests were so
dense a traveler could lose his sense of time and direction in them.
Here the invisible world hovered closer to the ground, mixing with
the darkness in the groves. The forest was home to many wild beasts,
such as antelope, elephant, and wildebeest, as well as hyenas, lions,
and leopards, adding even more to the danger.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkamba, Bryan Mealer Copyright © 2010 by William Kamkamba, Bryan Mealer. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow Paperbacks. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 173 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(109)

4 Star

(33)

3 Star

(16)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(10)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 174 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

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

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

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  • 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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2014

    Highly Recommended

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

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  • 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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