Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Review: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Book: The Boy who Harnessed the Wind

Author: William Kamkwamba with Bryan Mealer

Genre: Memoir

My Rating: 5 Stars

My Short Review: An amazing and very inspiring book about a boy who built his own wind mill! A must read for everyone – not just book lovers!

What severe drought conditions struck Malawi, 14 year old William Kamkwamba was forced to drop out of school because his father didn’t have enough money to pay his school fees. William helped his father in the Maize field. But farming is not a year round work and there were periods when there was nothing that he had to do. Instead of whiling away time like other school drop-outs, William went to the library to learn what he was missing out in school. William was always curious about science and was already taking radios and cycle dynamos apart to figure out their working by this time.

From the library books, he came across electricity concepts. He learnt how the mysterious dynamo in the cycles worked to light the bulb. Concepts that baffled engineers seemed simple to this high school drop out.

In Masitala, a small village in Malawi, there was no one that William could turn to help or advice. Better still, there was no one to tell him that 14 year old boys didn’t go around building windmills. So that is exactly what he did.

William was perturbed about the fact that there was no electricity in most houses in his village. It cost a lot to get a power line to supply electricity to your place and even then, the constant power cuts made the expense worthless. He saw pictures of windmills and read about how they were used to harness the wind energy and produce electricity. If there one thing that his village wasn’t lacking, it was wind. William scoured the local scrap yard for discarded stuff – motors, wires, nuts, bolts, etc and two months later, he had his very own working windmill! I am definitely not kidding! A 14 year old boy in the middle of nowhere in Africa built his own windmill just by reading about it in books and using scrap that he found around him! That is pure genius!!
Luckily, the genius was discovered and we now have a chance to get to know this super-brain! Thanks to all the aid he’s been getting, William went back to school to complete his education and is now working towards like life easier for his family and friends in Malawi.

“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is William’s story in his own words. The first half of the book describes the simple lifestyle of William and his family in rural Malawi – a land filled with poverty as much as it is filled with superstitions and blind beliefs. William describes the pitiful conditions caused by the famine and some of the descriptions brought tears to my eyes. Then he goes on to describe what he learnt and how he built the wind mill. William talks about AC/DC/Transformers/Voltage, etc like he was talking about chicken and maize plants! These complicated terms did not baffle him one bit! I remember all those sleepless nights I spent during my engineering days cursing my decision to learn stuff that didn’t seem relevant to me at all! All that I needed was electricity. Why did I have to care about how I got it? Reading this book has given me a new perspective. It has made me see my knowledge and education in a new light!

“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. The achievements of William Kamkwamba are not small. He deserves all the recognition he’s getting and even more!
Willaim’s bok “The Boy who Harnessed the Wind” co-written with Bryan Mealer is coming out on September 29. I think you should pre-order this book right now and read it definitely!

You can read more about William in his blog here.



Amanda said...

I got this book from ALA but didn't know anything about it. I don't think it even had a blurb on the back, so I'm so glad you reviewed it. It sounds like a wonderful book!

bermudaonion said...

I can't wait to read this - the video about William makes me cry every time I see it.

One Swede Read said...

That's just brilliant! What an uplifting story!!

S. Krishna said...

I've never heard of this book but it sounds amazing! Thanks for the review!

Veens said...

I need a little inspiration to pump me up to move forward!

I love the sound of this one.

Hazra said...

This book sounds so inspiring. I really must read it.

Divya said...

wow. sounds really inspiring! Thanks for the review

bethany (dreadlock girl) said...

This looks like an excellent read! I want to check it out now.

The cover is great, and it sounds like the insides are too, I love it when that happens!

Happy reading!