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Publisher's Summary

William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find.

Enchanted by the workings of electricity as a boy, William had a goal to study science in Malawi's top boarding schools. But in 2002, his country was stricken with a famine that left his family's farm devastated and his parents destitute. Unable to pay the 80-dollar-a-year tuition for his education, William was forced to drop out and help his family forage for food as thousands across the country starved and died.

Yet William refused to let go of his dreams. With nothing more than a fistful of cornmeal in his stomach, a small pile of once-forgotten science textbooks, and an armory of curiosity and determination, he embarked on a daring plan to bring his family a set of luxuries that only two percent of Malawians could afford and what the West considers a necessity--electricity and running water. Using scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle halves, William forged a crude yet operable windmill, an unlikely contraption and small miracle that eventually powered four lights, complete with homemade switches and a circuit breaker made from nails and wire. A second machine turned a water pump that could battle the drought and famine that loomed with every season.

Soon, news of William's magetsi a mphepo--his "electric wind"--spread beyond the borders of his home, and the boy who was once called crazy became an inspiration to those around the world.

Here is the remarkable story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual's ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him.

©2009 William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"William Kamkwamba's achievements with wind energy should serve as a model of what one person, with an inspired idea, can do to tackle the crisis we face. His book tells a moving and exciting story." (Al Gore, former Vice President and Nobel Laureate)
"This exquisite tale strips life down to its barest essentials, and once there finds reason for hopes and dreams, and is especially resonant for Americans given the economy and increasingly heated debates over health care and energy policy." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

Just Wonderful

Inspirational story of a boy who grows up with next to nothing in Africa and loses even that in a famine. Incredibly, secondary education is not accessible for this bright, curious boy and this is the cruelest blow of all. William triumphs over these obstacles by building a windmill largely from junkyard parts. I wish nothing but the best for William. The narration was unique but fit the story well. The toughest thing about listening to this book is coming back to reality and our materialistic, self centered lives.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • E Wagner
  • PORTLAND, OR, United States
  • 07-06-15

A story of INGENUITY, richly narrated

Narrator Chike Johnson's warm and accurately-accented reading of William Kamkwamba's story makes me glad that I listened to it on audio rather than just reading it off a page. The beautiful East African accent is easy to understand and helps draw the listener into the story. Moreover, the endurance, resilience, and determination Kamkwamba demonstrates had me practically cheering through the second part of the book as he painstakingly gathers the materials for his windmill.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Regis
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 12-08-10

Incredible!

One of the most inspiring book I have ever read... I mean, heard! William Kamkwamba is my new hero. His strength, clear mind and general goodness inspire awe and humility. The narrator's native accent makes it even more poignant! A must listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 09-14-10

A Coming of Age Story with a Twist

This is a curious story (for those who like fiction), introduction to technology for the unitiated, and a coming of age tale. It is satisfying, informative and inspirational all at one time. This is the story og one William Kamkwamba who speaks little English. Despite that, he masters the basics of electricity through reading books he has available to him. In the mean time, there is a famine, he doesn't have the money to go to school, and he is teaching himself. In the end he harnesses the wind through the building of a windmill and "lives happily ever after."

This wonderful book is written by Kamkwamba with Bryan Mealer. The reading of Chike Johnson is just grand. Don't let this book get past you.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Magical!

Inspiring! Just the shot in the arm that I needed during this Back to School season.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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My first Audio experiance.

I loved it. very discriptive of life in rural Malawi. I am planning to go there.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Truly Inspiring

In a world where we increasingly depend upon the government for help, a lone, young African boy shows us that there are no limits to humanity's ingenuity and innovation. Let us all rise up and take charge of our own destinies!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing

Made my trip to Malawi 100× better! The social and economic context was spot on.

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Malawi the warm heart of Africa

Malawi is very different from any other country in Africa and this book is an excellent story of how so. I read it just before I traveled there and clearly envisioned the author's story while there. My husband and I traveled to the far northern part, Altulpee, most travelers go south (south is where you see all the NGOs and tourist). The Drive from the capital northward is an experience traveling back in time and you truly see why it is called "the warm heart of Africa." Reading this book sets the stage so that you have a clear understanding of what Malawians have experienced - not a war amongst themselves, not tribalism but a struggle with nature.
This is an easy read and there are interesting TED talks by the author talking about his determination to overcome the odds for himself and his community. If the "African" experience is your interest, then this is a must read. Africa is not a country, and the life of Malawi is one not to miss.

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Inspiring

Amazing, could not stop listening. such an inspiring story about his struggles and hopes !!

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  • marina
  • 09-03-13

Positive Uplifting True Story

Really enjoyed this book. Its a true story and he even has a TED talk.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tara Scott
  • 09-03-17

Moving and Inspirational

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the narration of Kamkwamba's triumph over obstacles. The determination and perseverance of William shows others of what can be accomplished when they put their mind to it.