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

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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 196 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An inspiring read that reminds us how lucky we are to have electricity and running water.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful story of ingenuity! I admire his persistence and scientific methods.
JanesList on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am glad to have read this book, EXCEPT I really wish it had been made clear that a large portion of this book was about how the author's family and country were affected by a devastating famine. While I think it helped to understand the author's life and dreams, it could be hard for more "sensitive" readers (I have a hard time reading about horrors because they stick in my head). The portions of this book that were about engineering would make great reading for a junior inventors club. I wanted to try some of the things myself! I just wish they had been a bit clearer.
TerriBooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An inspiring story that opened up my awareness to something of what it is like to live in a society primarily dependent on subsistence farming in the 21st century. There is a fascinating juxtaposition of old and new: e.g., many people have cell phones, but not many have electricity, so there are charging stations where you can pay a small fee to recharge your phone. Although the title makes you think it's really all about the windmill, it takes half the book to get there. First we need to get a picture of life in this African family, the desire for education and stability, and the precarious situation that a family is placed in when dependent on weather and government policies. Very interesting, and a joy to get to know this young man.
LainaBourgeois on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
ursula on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this story of a boy who manages to bring electricity to his family's home in a Malawian village rather uneven. The subject matter was a bit of a mismatch for me, really, since I have no background nor much of an interest in science. When he began describing the details of his experiments with voltage and electricity, I could definitely appreciate and admire the ingenuity, but I still skimmed to get back to the more general topics. I enjoyed the book, though, and feel that it has a lot to offer in terms of the experience of life in Malawi and the horrible reality of famine, in addition to the ability of the human spirit to triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds. Sometimes not knowing any better is the only way to accomplish something.
riversong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great read about a boy who brought electricity to his African village.
yeremenko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An inspirational story of a determined young genius. William Kamkwamba tells his remarkable story with patience and honestly. It is not until half way through the book that he gets to his invention of the windmill that changed his life. Without the back story that helps us understand his setting and his family, the rest of the book would not have context. The story of the famine in Malawi is in itself worth the purchase price of this book. The painstaking description of his family gradually running out of food is as riveting as anything I've read. Often the book does not live up to the story, but this an exception. A truly remarkable book.
rapago on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was intrigued by this book. I liked the way William was honest about himself, his country and the things that happened to him. His writing was quite humble and I could not help but identify with him and sympathize with him.How can one read this book and not be thankful for all the things we take for granted? We flip a switch and a light comes on. We turn a tap and clean, drinking water comes out. We flush a toilet and our waste is taken away. Things we take for granted he sees as wonderful luxuries.I admire the way William sought out his own education when his father could not pay for his schooling. Would that children in this part of the world were as eager to learn. The question then becomes, how do we build this eagerness in the children here in Canada?Thank you, William for your positive message and example.
knittingmomof3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From My Blog....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.
LibrarysCat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
William Kamkwamba was just a young boy in a small village in Malawi. His family, like most of the villagers, were poor farmers and could not pay for William to continue his education beyond the elementary level. While William was discouraged by this, he ventured to the very small library in the elemntary school which had only three floor to ceiling shelves of books. He read science and physics books learning about windmills and decided to try to make one in hopes of creating enough electricity to power one light bulb so he could study after dark. He later hoped he could help his family through one of the many droughts and famine which affected his own family and the other villagers. Often having only mouthfuls of food each day, William went throughout the junk yards and nearby small town looking for parts to use in creating his windmill. His family and friends thought this was certainly strange behavior and while they loved him, they had little faith in his success. But using the most rudimentary equipment, William was successful and built first one windmill at his home and then a second windmill at the elementary school. Visiting the school, Malawian officials sought to meet the young man who was so dedicated to his own learning. Ultimately William was placed in an upper level school and also invited to attend a TED Global Conference. Finally meeting with other inventors and scientists at this conference, William was introduced to a multitude of knowledge - Google for one, but more importantly William stood with other Africans who were also inventors and he was pround of his heritage and continent. Unbelievable, belongs in every school library - from elementary to college; and should be read by all who think hope and dreams don't have great power!