Author:Carter, Monica
Position:Book review

Anthony McCarten (author); BRILLIANCE; Hawthorne Books (Fiction: Historical) 16.95 ISBN: 9780986000751

Byline: Monica Carter

McCarten's stylish prose propels forward a narrative of one of the most enthralling stories of modern science.

"You don't make money from improving the world, you make it from its destruction," Edison says to a young inventor. Anthony McCarten's fifth novel, Brilliance, is a fast-moving account of Thomas Edison's career and an obsession that ultimately ended in moral failure. Non-linear chapters map out the triumphs and missteps of the famous inventor who dedicated his life to his work at the cost of all else. This fictionalized account of the War of Currents centers on the struggle between the luminous figures of Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and J. P. Morgan.

Thomas Edison was a Midwestern boy who grew up to become one of the world's greatest inventors. After such life-altering creations as the phonograph and the light bulb, Edison aims to light up Manhattan and the world. Backed by financier J. P. Morgan, Edison vows to prove that Nikola Tesla's idea of using AC/DC current to provide electric light to the masses is deadly. Edison is a staunch believer that DC current is the only way to make electric light safe and available to everyone. Throughout this battle, Tesla, backed by Morgan's rival George Westinghouse, becomes the hero while Edison unwittingly becomes the inventor of the electric chair.

The story opens on New Year's Eve 1899, with a near deaf fifty-three year old Edison holed away in his study while his second wife, Mina, entertains a houseful of guests feting the end of the century. The novel flits through time, detailing...

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