Simply Electrifying: The Technology that Transformed the World, from Benjamin Franklin to Elon Musk
Selected for J.P. Morgan's 2018 Holiday Reading List
Imagine your life without the internet. Without phones. Without television. Without sprawling cities. Without the freedom to continue working and playing after the sun goes down.
Electricity is at the core of all modern life. It has transformed our society more than any other technology. Yet, no book offers a comprehensive history about this technological marvel.
Simply Electrifying: The Technology that Transformed the World, from Benjamin Franklin to Elon Musk brings to life the 250-year history of electricity through the stories of the men and women who used it to transform our world: Benjamin Franklin, James Watt, Michael Faraday, Samuel F.B. Morse, Thomas Edison, Samuel Insull, Albert Einstein, Rachel Carson, Elon Musk, and more. In the process, it reveals for the first time the complete, thrilling, and often-dangerous story of electricity's historic discovery, development, and worldwide application.
Electricity plays a fundamental role not only in our everyday lives but in history's most pivotal events, from global climate change and the push for wind- and solar-generated electricity to Japan's nuclear accident at Fukushima and Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Written by electricity expert and four-decade veteran of the industry Craig R. Roach, Simply Electrifying marshals, in fascinating narrative detail, the full range of factors that shaped the electricity business over time—science, technology, law, politics, government regulation, economics, business strategy, and culture—before looking forward toward the exhilarating prospects for electricity generation and use that will shape our future.
Praise for Simply Electrifying: The Technology that Transformed the World, from Benjamin Franklin to Elon Musk
"Well written and extremely accessible, Simply Electrifying provides a comprehensive history of this life-changing discovery and is a fascinating and deeply engaging look at how we live today and where we may be headed in the future."
"Ten years in the making, Simply Electrifying is an inspiring book about the pioneers and visionaries who brought the transformative technology of electricity to all of society. Thoroughly researched, with insightful commentary, the book provides a thought-provoking and comprehensive examination of the challenges and evolving opportunities surrounding the electrification of our economy."
—Tom Kuhn, president, Edison Electric Institute
"Simply Electrifying is as impressive as it is engaging and informative. Documenting the comprehensive history of one of humanity's greatest achievements is no small feat, but Craig R. Roach has given us an elegant book that provides an excellent review of electricity and the utility industry in this country."
—Joshua W. Martin III, director, Southwest Power Pool
"Craig Roach is a very accomplished economist, so as I sat down to read his Simply Electrifying, I expected another economic treatise replete with graphs and equations geared more toward the academic community than the general public. Just the opposite: As an economist myself, I was captivated as he filled in the blanks of history on a subject that has governed most of my career. . . . This book should fill a prominent place on anyone's bookshelf as a reference to one of man's greatest achievements."
—Alan R. Schriber, PhD, former chair, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio
"In this well-researched, well-written, and engaging book, Dr. Roach presents an accessible history of this simply electrifying topic: electricity itself. Starting with Benjamin Franklin and continuing through to Elon Musk and Bill Gates, Dr. Roach gives us the inside story, unpacking scientific breakthroughs and connecting physics and engineering to the economic, regulatory, legal, business, and environmental policies that shape this crucial industry. Both newbies to the field and experienced policy wonks will learn much from this important book."
—Julie Simon, energy industry expert, Washington, DC
"A history buff's delight! Step into the incredible story of the origins of electricity like never before. It's fascinating to see how far we've come and consider what the future may hold. Simply Electrifying is a gem and a must-read for anybody that has ever reached for a light switch."
—Kent Parsons, energy and electricity lawyer, Baton Rouge, LA
"If you have any interest in learning about the roles that science, governments, and private enterprise can play in determining the economics and choice of new technologies for social benefit or harm, read Craig's book on the US electricity market. It is a comprehensive, balanced, and very informative analysis of the history of this essential product. I am already recommending Simply Electrifying to my students."
—Ken Hendricks, Laurits R. Christensen Distinguished Chair, Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin–Madison
"Simply Electrifying brings into vivid focus both the inventors responsible for the turning points in the discovery, production, and commercialization of electricity, and the executives and investors who shaped the electricity business. This incisive work connects advances in electricity technology and uses to the broader sweep of scientific progress, while also framing the transformative consequences of the democratization of electricity in economic, regulatory, and environmental terms. Dr. Roach's outstanding book, by explaining how electricity became fundamental to modern life, allows us to better understand where the industry will go next."
—Kenneth M. Simon, partner (ret.), Latham & Watkins LLP