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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heart-wrenching and heart-warming
The story should really be called 'The boy who survived the famine and then harnessed the wind.' The first two-thirds of the book is about Williams growing up in Kasungu in Malawi and understated simpleness of his life and the tragedy of the Famine of 2001 in Malawi.

Reading about the famine is heart-wrenching. I did at a point have tears in my eyes and an...
Published on 22 Mar 2010 by Peter Roxburgh

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Story behind William and the windmill
Enjoyed descriptions of land and life in Malawi but ending was disappointing. The American phrasing threw me a little. I was much more used to hearing a different turn of phrase from Malawians during my years there. Lovely to read about the everyday practicalities of life on the Warm Heart of Africa, although the eating of the goat skin is difficult to read.
Published 3 months ago by Loopy Lili


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heart-wrenching and heart-warming, 22 Mar 2010
By 
Peter Roxburgh (Dorset, UK) - See all my reviews
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The story should really be called 'The boy who survived the famine and then harnessed the wind.' The first two-thirds of the book is about Williams growing up in Kasungu in Malawi and understated simpleness of his life and the tragedy of the Famine of 2001 in Malawi.

Reading about the famine is heart-wrenching. I did at a point have tears in my eyes and an anger that things like this could be allowed to happen.

The purpose of the famine story serves as a contrast to the hope that is brought about by Williams windmill and the telling of his success through adversity is heart-warming.

The story is written in a very matter-of-fact way which actually is very refreshing and makes for an easy read.

I wouldn't say the book is 'enjoyable' because reading about horror of famine is never enjoyable. But if you like reading stories about people overcoming the odds or if you have even the slightest interest in physics or Africa then you will appreciate the candor and honesty of Williams story.

It is essentially a story of hope - hope for a boy, for a village, for a nation and for a continent. Simple and inspiring.

I hope that helps :)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I try, and I made it", 22 Mar 2010
By 
L Williams "les-williams" (Exeter) - See all my reviews
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I read this book and felt humbled, embarrassed by our lifestyle. William Kamkwamba tells his life-story in a matter of fact way, without any bitterness; he paints a vivid picture of life in Malawi where witch-doctors rule and poverty is the norm.
William's family struggle to survive during a famine, made worse by Government corruption and exploitation, that kills many of their countrymen. It is not comfortable reading, you feel the hunger and also angry that this can happen; you also get a real sense of the strength of William's family, his mother and father set an example of fairness and kindness.
The price for surviving the famine is that they are unable to afford the school fees to send William to school. However William has an aptitude for Science and discovers some science books in English at the local Trading Centre. Electricity is rare and unreliable in Malawi but William realises that he could use a bicycle dynamo as part of a windmill to generate electricity. In his words "I try, and I made it"
The windmill transforms their lives.
This is a book of hope and inspiration, I recommend it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars librarians must buy!, 10 Nov 2009
This is an inspiring story about a Malawian teenager who built a electricity-generating windmill, switches and other parts needed to provide electricity to his home... all from parts of machines salvaged from a scrapyard. intriguing enough for adults, written in English simple enough for everyone, this book deserves to be read. I can't recommend it enough. I wish it had included the actual diagram for the first windmill, though.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So Un-British!, 22 Jun 2011
By 
Simon Phipps "webmink" (Southampton, UK) - See all my reviews
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Plenty of the reviews here use the word "inspiring" and I'd have to agree. British society has fallen into a pattern of valuing qualifications, processes, regulations and oversight, and the work environment is rife with demands for plans and justifications and budgets. But sometimes it's good to be reminded that just believing in yourself and going for it can get so much done. If a blast of simple can-do self-belief would help you right now, there's no better book to grab and read. Readable, refreshing and altogether - well, un-British!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story, 27 Jan 2011
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This is a story that should be on the 'must read' of every school in the country. It's a beautiful, touching, moving story of a boy who, in a village with no running water and no electricity, a boy who had been forced to drop out of school because his family simply couldn't afford to pay any more, managed to build functional windmills using nothing more than the scrap he could find in rubbish tips. If ever there was a story to put into perspective the privilege in which modern youth exists, it is this story. It is a truly wonderful book, and I can't recommend it highly enough - it is inspiring, beautifully written, and genuinely important in placing our own disposable culture in perspective.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this!, 13 July 2011
By 
Paul Madge (Uk) - See all my reviews
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I was sitting on a plane and the person next to me was telling his friend about this fantastic book that he had just read; he described the story and the impact it had on him - to not take things around him for granted, but to also make an effort just to try and do things. As I started to read this book I was then delighted to suddenly remember the conversation and reaslise that this was the book the man had been describing... and it was everything he had said.

This is a story about William Kamkwamba who's parents couldn't afford to keep him at school. But at the age of 14 he kept on reading books from his library and learning ... he ends up doing some remarkable things as a result of his knowledge, passion and determination.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book full of hope, perseverance and determination, 27 Dec 2010
An excellent recommendation to anyone who has a dream but loses hope that they will ever achieve it. This not only tells the story of William Kamkwamba who builds several windmills from scrap and junk to give his family light and a water pump, but also tells of the background of his everyday life in Malawi, with a backdrop of governmental corruption, famine and hardship. This is an inspiration to anyone who endeavours to succeed and a timely reminder to those of us who have never had to suffer these hardships just how lucky and fortunate we are. In a time when libraries are also under valued and under threat it also reminds us how useful they can be!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, 20 Sep 2010
By 
K. Wright - See all my reviews
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"The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind," is the true story of a 14 year old Malawian William Kamkwamba. Forced to leave school due to famine, William continued to educate himself using the small selection of books at his local library. Armed with only 1 book about energy and a desire to help his family have light and water, Kamkwamba began to build a windmill. William's determination goes on to help others in his village and eventually he is able to go back to school.

I enjoy reading books about Africa and William's amazing story has taught me a lot about his country. From the belief in magic to the importance of agriculture, Kamkwamba and co-author Bryan Mealer paint a vivid picture of life in Malawi including the housing, schooling and food. Reading about William gives hope to other young people in Africa, that they too can gain an education and help themselves out of poverty. An inpirational read - recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration for us all, 4 April 2010
By 
Dodster (UK) - See all my reviews
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This should be a must read book for everyone. The story is truly inspirational.
Of a how a young Malawian, William Kamkwamba, using nothing but spare parts and his own ingenuity built a windmill to provide power for his village home.
The tale is of more than that. It is a story of life in an African village.
Of family, extreme poverty, famine and survival.
It is a story that will have cursing corrupt government and officials who profit at the expense of peoples suffering. It is a story that should make you thankful for all you have.
More than that, it is a story that encourages us all, not matter what our age or education to get creative and never give up.
Wonderful reading. Dreams do still come true!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring story of a young genius, 19 Mar 2010
By 
J. Dawson (Edinburgh, UK) - See all my reviews
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In the developed world, innovation is seen as something of a luxury. True, there is currently some serious concern about global warming and the need for greener living, but for most people this is a minor concern that we pay more lip service to than anything else. Generally we carry on, mostly doing what we have always done, safe in the knowledge that everything we need (or think we need) is readily available and widely affordable. Having travelled and made friends in North Africa over the last few years, I can vouch that principles like innovation and recycling, which we may embrace but don't fully understand, are raised to an art form there, out of sheer necessity.

And it is this necessity which drives William Kamkwamba, author, inventor, and inspiration. He spends most of the book laying the groundwork of the story, helping us to understand the culture of Malawi from politics to folklore to everyday life. His description of the drought and ensuing famine that threaten to destroy his village is particularly vivid, bringing home in a way that is both understandable and shocking to the core a disaster that most of us will be fortunate enough to never experience. Given the circumstances, it is easy to see why a picture of a windmill struck such a chord with young William - here was a way to ensure his family would never starve again! And yet his determination to complete and perfect his project despite a lack of schooling, funds and materials, and in the face of overwhelming prejudice from his community, is what makes this story such an inspiration. One young boy with so many odds against him managed to change the quality of life for his entire village.

The story is straightforward and well told, and ultimately a lesson just as moving as one might hope for on picking up this book. As for my copy, it is now in Morocco, appropriated by a teacher who is starting an English language library for children in his village. It may be time for me to buy a second copy!
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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
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