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Customer reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars

on 9 March 2011
I just finished reading this book. I did struggle a little to get into the book at first but then recently bed ridden with a cold I started to power through it (no pun intended). Found it a very enjoyable and interesting read. I think the book could benefit from some pictures or diagrams, particularly in the initial chapters so readers have an idea of how the different technologies being trialled in those years differed from one another. It would help those of us who aren't that familiar with the technology follow the story better. But all said, it is a very interesting introduction into the topic and provides a good starting point for identifying where one might want to read more closely into a particular era or topic.
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on 29 December 2013
"Children of Light" is highly misleading title for a book which is
essentially a popular history of the Electric Supply Industry in the
UK. Interesting though that topic may be.

The title implies that the book will primarily concern itself with
consumers of electricity - the public, their reaction to electricity
and consumer trends - which it touches on only in passing - the "children"
rather than the suppliers who are essentially the parents.
And it doesn't.

There is a very interesting social history waiting to be written
on electricity and its growing impact during the course of the 19th
and 20th century, but unfortunately this isn't it.

For instance mention is made of the fact that in 20's and 30's
many electrical appliances were hired out to those who couldn't afford
to buy them outright. As a way of encouraging customers to use more
electricity. However precise details of how exactly these schemes
operated is sadly lacking. Similarly the sale of vacuum cleaners
door to door in the 1930's is illustrated solely by the same anecdote,
by the self same former vacuum cleaner salesman, as has already appeared
in at least one TV documentary. Yes that one. Where he spreads the
soot on the potential customer's carpet prior to his demonstration,
only to be told the house isn't yet wired up for electricity.
Then there's the question of domestic wirelesses which were commonly
powered by batteries or accumulators. Who charged these accumulators,
how much did this cost, how long did each charge last ?

These topics can of course be researched on the Net for those who are
really that interested. But then, there would be be no point in buying
or reading the book in the first place.

There must surely be a wealth of original material still available
out there, which would bring this topic to life, all of which appears
to have been totally overlooked.

In its reliance on secondary sources this book also repeats some highly
questionable statistics on the spread of electrification - for instance
that by 1935 95% of French households were supplied with electricity
(page 174).

Finally, as already noted the complete lack of any illustrations -
uncaptioned vignettes at the start of chapters don't qualify as
illustrations in my book - is unforgivable in a book on this topic,
certainly at this price.

michael adams
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on 18 February 2011
A necessary and important historical survey, but with some major errors and badly edited. The errors include the claim that Calder Hall was the `first commercial power station' (it was the first civil nuclear station); that it was proposed to generate electricity from `the waste heat from a nuclear power station' (the author has only a hazy grasp of nuclear physics); that Kinlochleven is on the shore of Loch Ness and missing `of' out of the name of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. Annoying is the lack of page numbers for illustrations or numbers on the illustrations themselves. So I only recommend it with a warning.
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on 11 March 2014
Very good book. It provided a detailed look at the subject, which was difficult to find elsewhere. Would have preferred more photos to show early equipment
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