Electric Universe by David Bodanis

When I read Electric Universe by David Bodanis, I was surprised the whole way through at how new and good it was. I picked it up at one of my favorite bookstores in Chicago, Market Fresh Books in Little Italy, second-hand.

I’m a guy who’s read a lot of popular accounts on the developments of science, and know all the progress of quantum physics and relativity real well at this point. Those stories are more common. I’d never read a full popular account on the history and development of electricity, though, and how it changed the world in so many ways. But I’m sure glad I did.

electric universe book by david bodanis

My Review

I have to say, while I think all science-progress-history-etc stories are pretty interesting from a humanist standpoint, I didn’t expect electricity’s story to be this interesting. It was really… shocking, you might say, how huge of an effect it’s had through the years. Not something I’ve ever really consciously thought about before, for some reason. But it truly changed the world in every way.

This book wasn’t just great because of those histories, though. It was great because of the storytelling. I was amazed by how well David Bodanis could weave such an interesting and mesmerizing thread through these scientist’s adventures throughout the centuries, and to say that it kept my attention is an understatement. It was a real page-turner.

I almost wonder if the history was diluted a bit just for the sake of the stories, but there was so much fact backing up most of it that I’d doubt it. I believe that Mr. Bodanis’ great tone and voice as a writer just helped that much.

The Best Part

It’s hard to choose my favorite part, but I think the story I enjoyed most from Electric Universe was how the invention of radar turned the tide of battle one way and another in World War II. First for the Allies, then the Axis, then back to the Allies after secret raids I’d never heard about before. I enjoy some good WWII history, so WWII history + experimental science is just great.


I’d definitely recommend this book. Thrilling from front to back, and I even stayed up late to keep reading it. Learned a lot of great facts from it too, and even loaned it to my mother – she liked it too. Definitely check this book out if you get a chance.