Title: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Author: William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition
Publication Date: July 27, 2010
Paperback: 320 pages
From the Publisher:
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. A second 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.
Deeply moving and thought-provoking, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkawmba and Bryan Mealer is a look at William’s creative dreams made reality. This book is a beautiful retelling of William’s life, beginning with his childhood, which was filled with a mixture of witchcraft, God, folklore and ultimately, of science. I was completely drawn into the stories of the Malawians as well as the various beliefs and superstitions. The details of day-to-day life of the average Malawian astonished and humbled me. William and his friends learned creativity at an early age, their ability to use whatever was available as material to make wonderful creations astounded me. I was fascinated by the history of the Lao and Chewa and appreciated the details and the history. While the book is a memoir, the focus is to show the reader what lead William, with the assistance of his friends, to create a windmill so people of the village could enjoy running water and electricity. The memoir builds up to the actual construction of William’s windmill, which is definitely worth reading about and while I found his self-taught ingenuity nothing short of brilliant, it was the day-to-day activities that captured my heart. I would not hesitate to recommend The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind to any reader and I believe this book would make an excellent choice for any book discussion group.
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I received a complimentary copy of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.