During the time of America’s Wild West, there was also a wildness in the civilized East. It wasn’t a range war; it was ruthless combat on the frontier of science. Telegraphs and trains compressed time and space, engines and motors gave man super strength, and electricity expanded day into night. These were parlor tricks that burst out of the laboratories to the wonder of a bustling nation. It was near magic, and hard-nosed men fought to control these supernatural enterprises.
Jill Jonnes in Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World does an excellent job of helping us understand the energy and competitiveness of the time. The "War of the Electric Currents" was an exciting part of our history that could have been made dull as mud. Jonnes avoids tedious explanations of technology to tell the story through three men: Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse. The supporting cast includes robber barons that provided money and intrigue. It was a Wild East fighting over a vast business frontier without rules, fences, or referees.