We are giving away one (1) copy of this book to a random commenter at the end of Friday, December 18, 2009.*

Recently, Harper Collins was kind enough to send a review copy of a new book called The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.  It's the story of William Kamkwamba, a youngster in Malawi who built a home-made wind turbine to light his home.  Before reading the book, I thought it was going to be about William's discovery of wind power and how that changed his family and life.  It was that.  But the discovery of wind power was really only a fraction of this touching story.  This is one of the top books of the year.

I guess you could say three things happened before William learned to harness the wind.  Spoiler …

First, and probably foremost, William had a curiosity for learning and technical information.  (Before learning the basics of power, William tinkered with radios and turned his hobby into a small business.)  Second, tragedy struck with a drought, which created serious and devastating famine and poverty.  Third, in poverty and hunger, Williams was forced to drop out of school due to lack of funds. 

Without giving away the entire story, William stumbled upon the idea of molding the wind to his desired use.  Having experienced poverty of the worst kind, he wrote:

"All I needed was a windmill, and then I could have lights.  No more kerosene lamps that burned our eyes and sent us gasping for breath.  With a windmill, I could stay awake at night reading instead of going to bed at seven with the rest of Malawi.  But most important, a windmill could also rotate a pump for water and irrigation.  Having just come out of the hunger — and with famine still affecting many parts of the country — the idea of a water pump now seemed incredibly necessary … No more skipping breakfast; no more dropping out of school.  With a windmill, we'd finally release ourselves from the troubles of darkness and hunger."

But, the story isn't as uncomplicated as merely gathering parts and putting a turbine together.  William countered local attitudes, poverty, and an utter lack of resources to create his first working turbine.  Eventually, his creation of "electric wind" led to other discoveries, but I'll leave that for your reading. 

This is a sad story (with the loss of friends, family, and even poor little Khamba), as well as a story of triumph (money from donors has been used for his family, friends, and village).  Through an amazing alignment of circumstance and blessing, news of the cobbled together wind mill trickled out to journalists.  Soon thereafter, William was accepted as a TED Global Fellow. 

So, if you like to read and you're on the hunt for something meaningful and inspiring — a story as much about culture, education, and innovation as about life, death, and opportunity — I recommend you buy a copy of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Also, make sure to read William's blog, follow his Twitter account, and stay tuned for a film called Moving Windmills.

*If you're interested in winning a copy of this book, drop a comment by midnight MST on Friday, December 18, 2009.  Say where you're from if you don't know what to say.  By leaving a comment, you agree to the terms and conditions relating to giveaways on Jetson Green.