The late 19th century was a period of explosive technological creativity, but more than any other invention, Thomas Edison's incandescent light bulb marked the arrival of modernity, transforming its inventor into a mythic figure and avatar of an era. Ernest Freeberg weaves a narrative that reaches from Coney Island and Broadway to the tiniest towns of rural America, tracing the progress of electric light through the reactions of everyone who saw it and capturing the wonder that Edison's invention inspired.
"One of the many pleasures of ... Ernest Freeberg's engaging history ... is that he captures the excitement and wonder of those early days, when 'a machine that could create enough cheap and powerful light to hold the night at bay' promised 'liberation from one of the primordial limits imposed by nature on the human will.'... Freeberg's thoughtful and thought-provoking book quietly suggests that, to properly distribute and control such a powerful force, commercial initiative and a sense of civic responsibility were equally essential."—LATimes