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

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

by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer
4.3 159


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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer

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. But William had read about windmills, and he dreamed of building one that would bring to his small village a set of luxuries that only 2 percent of Malawians could enjoy: electricity and running water. His neighbors called him misala—crazy—but William refused to let go of his dreams. With a small pile of once-forgotten science textbooks; some scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle halves; and an armory of curiosity and determination, he embarked on a daring plan to forge an unlikely contraption and small miracle that would change the lives around him.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a remarkable true story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. It will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual's ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061730337
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/27/2010
Series: P.S. Series
Pages: 290
Sales rank: 33,128
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 5.36(h) x 0.77(d)
Age Range: 11 - 17 Years

About the Author

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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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 159 reviews.
gl More than 1 year ago
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.
NSALegal More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
C-Step More than 1 year ago
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.
British-jo More than 1 year ago
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.
roselyndeere More than 1 year ago
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. 
quibecca More than 1 year ago
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.
arthurauthorart More than 1 year ago
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. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most inspirational stories I have ever read. You will not be disappointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Bischoff More than 1 year ago
Puts you there. What an incredible journey. Very inspiring story that will keep you reading all night. Passing it onto the kids.
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Jason-W More than 1 year ago
Living in the United States of America provides each and every one of us the opportunity for a quality, free education. While this is something that we may often take for granted, people in countries all around the world to have this opportunity that many of us squander.  William Kamkwamba, the son of a farmer, lives in the dirt-poor African country of Malawi. Despite seeming destined for a fate working in the fields, he has an intense and burning passion to learn. When a drought strikes and food and wealth runs low, he is forced to drop out of school, unable to pay the necessary fees. However, with the rest of Malawi deep in hunger and famine, Kamkwamba is able to harness his passion for learning through the local library, poring over books of physics and science. He dreams of a day where he can generate the energy to pump water from the well to the crops. After months of scavenging and learning, he compiles his knowledge into a single quest: the building of a windmill that will save his village from drought. William's motto of "I try, and I made it," is a resonating idea throughout the book and a concept we should all adopt(254). Written with the Kamkwamba's unique tone, THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND: CREATING CURRENTS OF ELECTRICITY AND HOPE is a fascinating and truthful story of a young adult's curiosity and ingenuity. Readers will be inspired by Kamkwamba's triumph in the face of incredible adversity. Kamkwamba's story made me realize how truly incredible it is to have a chance at a quality education, and how following your dreams can get you to amazing places.
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I consider this to be one of the best books I've ever read.
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