Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Fall Reading 2018 Cyrus Field's Big Dream


As the author mentions in the epilogue, "Telegraph cables played an important role in world communication for more than a century. Eventually, radio, telephone cables, satellites, fiber-optic cables, and wireless networks made telegraph cables obsolete." (p.188) It may be very hard for readers today to understand Cyrus Field's determination to lay the first transatlantic telegraph cable, or how many others he was able to convince of the necessity - and to invest large sums of money to make it happen. But anyone reading this book will be convinced of his determination to accomplish his goal.

The book presents all the events in chronological order, beginning with the first meeting where Field heard about the possibility and covering the twelve years it took to successfully connect the United States with Europe with a telegraph cable. The various investors, politicians, and scientists and the roles they played are also discussed, but Cyrus is the main character in this drama. Details of his childhood, family, and other business ventures are woven into the background to complete the portrait of this determined man.

Illustrations show the ships and equipment used, reproductions of telegrams, photos from the time period, even diagrams of the ship's layout. There are numerous quotes from Cyrus and contemporaries, newspaper and magazine coverage, and even songs written about the attempts. Back matter includes an author's note, source notes, timeline, index, connections to make (books videos, and websites on the topic), and a selected bibliography. 

Written for grades 5-9, this is a detailed biography and a story of technology woven together to make a fascinating true story.

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