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The Last Days of Night

The Last Days of Night

4.5 10
by Graham Moore

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From Graham Moore, the Academy Award–winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game and New York Times bestselling author of The Sherlockian comes a riveting historical thriller about the “War of the Currents,” the famous race for glory and riches between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. Featuring a cast of characters


From Graham Moore, the Academy Award–winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game and New York Times bestselling author of The Sherlockian comes a riveting historical thriller about the “War of the Currents,” the famous race for glory and riches between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. Featuring a cast of characters ranging from Nikola Tesla to Alexander Graham Bell to Stanford White, this is a wonder-filled work of historical fiction that is both legal caper and fact-based account of one of the most transformative moments in American history.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Noah Hawley
The novel's action takes place against a backdrop rich with period detail. The late 1800s was a time when magical thinking was being replaced by wonder at the technological possibilities of the future, and Moore's satisfying romp draws on this shift as it builds to an unexpected (if you don't know the history) conclusion.
Publishers Weekly
Moore (The Sherlockian), again turning to historical events for the basis of a thrilling plot, tackles the “war of the currents,” which pitted Thomas Edison against George Westinghouse in a turn-of-the-century New York legal battle. Fresh out of Columbia Law School, Paul Cravath is trained in research and dealing with concrete facts; he is not used to being at the center of a billion-dollar lawsuit, but that is exactly where he finds himself after agreeing to work with George Westinghouse. The two inventors become locked in a back-and-forth legal dispute after Thomas Edison claims he invented the light bulb and sues Westinghouse, who then issues a countersuit against Edison for violating Westinghouse’s own patent. At the heart of the matter is determining who invented the light bulb and whether or not the patent covers all forms of the bulb. Paul hopes to win the case by enlisting the help of Nikola Tesla, but that proves to be a much more unruly prospect than he initially expected, as the eccentric man agrees to help but brings with him new challenges. Amid the bickering of the iconic characters, Paul ends up emerging as the emotional center, trying to hold strands of the case together and stay true to his own moral standards. While the plot starts off slowly, the tempo picks up as events within the court begin to unfold. Moore’s extensive research is apparent, and readers are likely to walk away from the book feeling as informed as they are entertained. (Aug.)
Library Journal
An Academy Award-winning screenwriter (The Imitation Game) and New York Times best-selling author (The Sherlockian), Moore fictionalizes Thomas Edison's efforts to eliminate rival George Westinghouse through an enormous lawsuit.
Kirkus Reviews
The great tech innovators of the '90s—that’s the 1890s—posture, plot, and even plan murder in this business book–turned–costume drama.In the late 19th century, as Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse began wiring America for electricity, the titans locked horns over which electrical standard would prevail—AC or DC—in a struggle that came to be known as the “War of the Currents.” Novelist (The Sherlockian, 2010) and screenwriter (The Imitation Game, 2014) Moore chops up and rearranges a decade’s worth of events, squeezes them into two years, adds a few crimes, and serves the result up in a lively if unsurprising legal thriller. He tells the story from the point of view of Paul Cravath, the young attorney charged with defending Westinghouse against a potentially devastating patent suit brought by Edison. The key to winning, Cravath decides, is to get Nikola Tesla—the mad scientist to end all mad scientists—to invent a better lightbulb. Subtle this isn’t. A devastating lab fire! An inexplicable disappearance! A beautiful diva with a mysterious past! An attempted murder! An electrocuted dog! The characters mug and posture like actors in a silent film with dramatic captions: “She turned her glare to Westinghouse. 'You’re a co-conspirator in this villainy?' " Tesla, a Serbian, talks funny: “My accent is wide. Perhaps you have been noticing.” Eventually, inspired by the innovative business practices of Westinghouse and Edison, Cravath invents the 20th-century law firm and wins the hand of the lady. The real-life events of the War of the Currents are exciting enough without embroidery. Still, readers who care more about atmosphere than accuracy will enjoy this breezy melodrama.
From the Publisher
“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 Hawley, The New York Times Book Review

“This captivating historical novel illuminates a fascinating American moment.”People

“A fascinating portrait of American inventors . . . Moore crafts a compelling narrative out of [Paul] Cravath’s cunning legal maneuvers and [Nikola] Tesla’s world-changing tinkering, while a story line on opera singer Agnes Huntington has the mysterious glamour of The Great Gatsby. . . . Moore weaves a complex web. . . .  He conjures Gilded Age New York City so vividly, it feels like only yesterday.”Entertainment Weekly

“A model of superior historical fiction . . . Graham Moore digs deep into long-forgotten facts to give us an exciting, sometimes astonishing story of two geniuses locked in a brutal battle to change the world. . . . [A] brilliant journey into the past.”The Washington Post

Devil in the White City fans, you'll adore this one. . . . Secret societies, private spites, vast fortunes—this book has it all. But the way all its stories fit together at the end will make you realize that everyone was playing their own game all along. But of course, only one will win.”Refinery 29

“A marvelous legal thriller set in a magical time when inventions were truly wonders, [Moore] knows how to grab your attention and not let go. . . . This is historical fiction at its very best. . . . The Last Days of Night is just as crackling as the electricity at its very core.”Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

“Moore’s writing is sharp and as energized as his topic. . . . This is a riveting book that will hold your attention and will illuminate many on the birth of light in America. Part legal thriller, part romance, injected with a history lesson. Worth the read.”Historical Novel Society

“Mesmerizing, clever, and absolutely crackling, The Last Days of Night is a triumph of imagination. Graham Moore has chosen Gilded Age New York as his playground, with outsized characters—Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse—as his players. The result is a beautifully researched, endlessly entertaining novel that will leave you buzzing.”—Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl

“In The Last Days of Night, Graham Moore takes us back to the dawn of light—electric light—into a world of invention and skulduggery, populated by the likes of Edison, Westinghouse, Tesla, and the novel’s hero, a young lawyer named Paul Cravath (a name that will resonate with ambitious law students everywhere). It’s part legal thriller, part tour of a magical time—the age of wonder—and once you’ve finished it, you’ll find it hard to return to the world of now.”—Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City

The Last Days of Night is a wonder, a riveting historical novel that is part legal thriller, part techno-suspense. This fast-paced story about the personal and legal clash over the invention of the light bulb is a tale of larger-than-life characters and devious doings, and a significant meditation on the price we as a society pay for new technology. . . . Thoughtful and hugely entertaining.”—Scott Turow

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Graham Moore is the New York Times bestselling author of The Sherlockian and the Academy Award–winning screenwriter for The Imitation Game, which also won a Writers Guild of America Award for best adapted screenplay. Moore was born in Chicago, received a B.A. in religious history from Columbia University in 2003, and now lives in Los Angeles.

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The Last Days of Night 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing writer and story. I am not able to put this book down! Edison,Tesla,Westinghouse, what an exciting time of invention one that changed the course of our lives to this day! Great men, written by a great man Graham Moore!
Piney10 9 months ago
Very interesting book on the the times of Edison, Westinghouse and Tesla and the drive to bring electricity to the US in the late 1880s. A very captivating, and in some cases, uncomplimentary look at the inventors, and the challenges they faced. What I also found as a fascinating facet is that of young lawyer, Paul Cravath, who was retained by Westinghouse to defend him against the hundreds of lawsuits filed by Edison. What I did not realize is that Cravath, the founder of the NYC law firm, Cravath Swaine and Moore, is credited with creating the law firm as we now know it, whether good or bad. A fun and interesting read.
BettyTaylor 11 months ago
This is a part of history I was totally unaware of – the battle between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse – over the light bulb. In the late 1800’s there was a major legal battle between these two powerhouses. Edison filed over 300 lawsuits against Westinghouse for the unheard of amount of $1B, yes, one billion dollars – in the late 1800’s. Add to the mix Tesla, the mad scientist who came up with the idea of alternating current. And we mustn’t forget JP Morgan, the sly one with the money. Each with his own agenda. Electricity was something new and mysterious in the United States at that time. These men knew that whoever won the lawsuits stood to control the direction of electricity in the US. The book is written from the perspective of the young attorney, Paul Cravath, who represented Westinghouse. The book is well written and held my attention. The past was brought to life. I really liked Tesla who cared nothing for the money. He just liked to take his ideas and turn them into reality. Politics, intrigue, ambition, a touch of romance…all are found in this remarkable story.
onemused 8 months ago
"The Last Days of Night" tells the story of George Westinghouse's young lawyer, Paul Cravath, as he seeks to defend him from Thomas Edison's 312 lawsuits. Paul is somewhat of a prodigy, having accelerated his career to partner mere years after graduation from Colombia. Westinghouse is a huge client, and potentially career ending, as Edison is suing him for a lot seemingly with cause. They both are putting electricity around the country and installing their own lightbulbs- lightbulbs for which Edison has a patent (maybe). Paul's job is to determine how much of this can be argued and to establish a full case for Westinghouse, which he does masterfully. Paul recruits Nikola Tesla (a name which we will all recognize) fairly early in the book. Tesla is an intriguing character herein, and he brings some humor and much more interest into the story as a multi-faceted character and complex man. Thus begins the war between currents (alternating or direct). This book and others have linked these battles to the PC vs Mac computer rivalry which currently exists. The book sparked an interest in me to google more about these men and their pasts. I found this article helpful/interesting from a different point of view (From the Smithsonian): http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/edison-vs-westinghouse-a-shocking-rivalry-102146036/ Anyway, the book reads like a legal procedural with some flare for drama. It does not get bogged down in historical facts but it does contain quite a lot of them (some are summarized at the end to tell what was true/embellished for the novel). The characters are given full-bodied personalities and it does read like fiction at times, while at others, it reads very flat/unidirectional. It's difficult to write fiction about history and maintain accuracy. I think it works fairly well here, but it does have the presence of a History channel documentary at times. Overall, it is entertaining and the plot moves along steadily. My favorite part of the book was the quotes at the beginning of each chapter- they were quite entertaining (some from Edison, but also from Jobs, Gates, Watson, etc.). They were very cleverly selected. Paul is an easy character to like and empathize with and makes a good center for this story. Altogether, it's an engaging retelling of a historical rivalry. Please note that I received an ARC through a goodreads giveaway. All opinions are my own.
BeesKneesBookishKorner More than 1 year ago
Moore’s prose is lyrical and inventive. He not only brings these historical characters to life, makes you takes sides, and helps you to better understand them past their notoriety, but he also brings the reader into the setting and era through his descriptive writing. In this novel, we get to know Mr. Westinghouse, Mr. Edison, Mr. Tesla, and Mr. Cravath, all inventors, of a type, in their own right. Before this novel, I had never even heard of Cravath, but upon doing some research, I learned that he’s responsible for the ways in which law offices work today and they even still call it the “Cravath System”. What’s more surprising, is that through Moore’s writing, I realized that I had no idea who George Westinghouse, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla are beyond their contributions to science (and some of those I didn’t know either) and their inventions. Moore weaves a story and presents a dramatic stage for these men and I was enthralled from page one. Honestly. I think, beyond the story, my favorite part of this book was the author’s notes. Moore gives a chapter by chapter breakdown of where the story diverged from history and where it remained true. As a history buff, I was deeply appreciative of this. Knowing these changes, additions, and embellishments adds to my personal enjoyment of a historical fiction novel. Moore also included his sources with each note so that the reader can find out more for themselves, which I plan on doing. I had no idea that Edison, Westinghouse, Tesla, and J.P. Morgan were such fascinating men beyond what I know of them from the very basic. They are no more simple than the debate of who really invented the light bulb is.
KarenfromDothan More than 1 year ago
Graham Moore’s latest work, The Last Days of Night, is all about America’s current war. It’s the story of Thomas Edison vs. George Westinghouse and their very public battle to determine if Americans would use direct current or alternating current. When Edison files three hundred twelve lawsuits against his rival Westinghouse claiming infringement of his incandescent light bulb patent, a young, untested and very ambitious attorney is hired to handle the case. It took me a little while to get into the story, but when I did, I very much liked it. What could have been a pretty dull story is made interesting, even exciting by Graham Moore. There is plenty of intrigue and skulduggery in this read. His characterizations are excellent and, for me, truly make the story. America’s favorite inventor, Edison, is portrayed in an unflattering light. He comes across as conceited, ruthless and determined to win at all costs. I really, really disliked him and wanted him to lose. Westinghouse is depicted in a more flattering light. Nikola Tesla has a part in the story, too, and is represented as quirky, if not odd, whose interest is only science and inventing, a true genius. This is historical fiction and the author explains how he compressed time lines and how his story differs from actual events in his note at the end of the book.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
I received a fee electronic copy of this book from Graham Moore, Netgalley and Random House Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for sharing your work with me. This book, set in New York City in 1888 - 1890, brings to life the personalities of Edison, Westinghouse, Bell and Tesla, and the rapid growth of the electric industry in the northeast. I found it an interesting and compelling tale, one I could not put down. Of the many things we take for granted in the 21st century electric power has to be at the top of the list. Thank you, Graham Moore, for the obviously extensive research behind this enjoyable tale. I enjoyed the lives of Paul and Agnes as portrayed, and hope their relationship was as interesting as you imagined it to be. And thanks again, for the excellent afterward, and recommended reading list.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
When I first started reading this book, it felt like it was being narrated by the voice of the guy on Dragnet and I was like "oh no". What have I got myself into. Very shortly after that, the words started to flow and I really got into the book. Every once in a while a name would come up and I would recognize it. Then my live and dead brain cells would think - I know that name - Nikola Tesla was the biggest one. I had heard that name and I just couldn't remember what he had done. Well, I learned a lot after that. This was just such an interesting book. I know a lot of the conversations were made up, but the overall story was real. I had never heard of a feud between Edison and Westinghouse. When I told my roommate about it, he knew all about it. Apparently, I was taking the definition of high school seriously that day. Anyways, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was both informational, educational and entertaining all at the same time. The author made it fun to read about this epic historical event and am very thankful to Random House for approving me and Net Galley for providing me a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Myndia More than 1 year ago
The Last Days of Night is everything I love about historical fiction. It is engaging and dramatic, whilst sharing mostly accurate details about historical events, so the reader is both entertained, and to some degree, educated. Of course, it is fiction, so the responsibility is on the reader to root out the truth…unless, of course, the writer is Graham Moore, who spells out the facts he altered and why at the end of the book. Brilliant! The book revolves around the “current” wars – the battle over the best ways to harness electricity. While there were many, many players in the electricity game, the biggest and most famous were Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla. And it was a nasty battle indeed. Which current was safest (A/C or D/C)? What light bulb design is the best and who truly designed it? What else does the world not yet know it’s always needed? Who can beat who to the patent office? It is a time period wrought with drama, and Graham Moore has brought it to life! There are several reasons I was attracted to this book. The cover is just beautiful and I’m a sucker for a great cover. Also, my husband is an IT guy and the son of an electrical engineer. While he isn’t a history buff, we talk a lot about technology development (Elon Musk is a frequent topic in our household), and none of today’s discoveries would be possible without the early inventors. But, despite my interest in technology development, I find non-fiction to be rather dry. Again I say, this is why love well-written historical fiction! Perhaps you don’t get all the minute details, but you get a general understanding, and then if your appetite is sufficiently whetted, you can dive into the non-fiction resources with a greater sense of passion. In other words, historical fiction is a kind of gateway drug, in the best way possible. Even if historical fiction isn’t your thing, I’d recommend this book because it’s simply wonderful. The writing is superb and the story is compelling. There isn’t a single bad thing I can say about it. It’s a must read. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Loved this book not only for irs historical content and perspective but for the eloquent writing. The author transported me back in time and that is always a rewarding read.