Electrifying America and Taming Her Waterways
Thomas Edison’s invention of the practical incandescent light bulb in 1879 fundamentally altered American life. For the next fifty years, electrification drove the nation’s economy. Where rivers, America’s lifeblood, could be tapped, they were the cheapest energy source. In the early 1900s, waterpower accounted for nearly half of the country’s electric supply.
As told in Bob Underwood’s crisp narratives and enhanced by his unique personal remembrances, Dam It! offers a riveting account of how dams restructured our landscape, powered our country, and became symbols of Americans’ resourcefulness and mastery over nature. His cast of characters includes Thomas Edison, J.P. Morgan, Nikola Tesla, George Westinghouse, Henry Ford, Samuel Insull, and his own legendary grandfather, who was “a dam engineer and proud of it.”
“Powered by his gift for storytelling, Underwood weaves a riveting narrative about America’s quest to harness the power of water through hydroelectricity. It is a tale of historic significance that reads like a novel—full of spellbinding characters, political intrigue, and inventive genius. I love this book.”
“Underwood personalizes the great projects and people who electrified America through managing water power. He captures the intense, raw, down-and-dirty competition between General Electric and Westinghouse, brings to life the significant movers of the industry, and gives a behind-the-curtain look at the powerful organizations and cutthroat politics that shaped the playing field. Well written and entertaining.”