The Last Days of Night opens, quite literally, with a spark. An event of horrific magnitude occurs within the first turn of the page, but since it is witnessed by our protagonist, a valiant and fervent pursuit for justice commences. It’s 1888 and while gas lamps still throng the streets of an up-and-coming New York City, a new maker of light is on the verge of replacing fire with electricity: the lightbulb. Critical questions arise as more than one inventor feels they’re on the verge of innovational history – who receives the glorious credit and irrefutable patent for inventing the lightbulb and who gets to lead the charge and power the nation? Enter Paul Cravath, a young, fresh out of law school lawyer who lands the case of a lifetime. George Westinghouse is being sued by none other than Thomas Edison for infringing on his invention and Paul has the impossible task of proving that claim false. This high profile case jettisons him into a world of high society, where adversaries and allies are tricky to determine. Spies, risk and danger all align against the young lawyer as he zealously pursues victory and along the way crosses paths with the renowned Nikola Tesla and J.P. Morgan as well as a young, beautiful opera singer.
The plot zips and zaps like electricity itself, wheeling through themes of obsession, murder, deceit, intrigue, unrequited love, unrelenting determination, genius innovation, surprising betrayal, and passion. Graham Moore proves he can write beyond the big screen (he won an Oscar not but a few years ago for his brilliant adapted screenplay of The Imitation Game) and admits to bending and condensing history slightly to create a captivating novel. Despite the minor straying, he sticks impressively true to the basic facts and readers may learn a thing or two about the long forgotten struggle to light the country.
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Written by: Elise Cantini