“A Short, Bright Flash” Illuminates the History of the Modern Lighthouse

Among the improvements we often take for granted is the brilliant flash of safety lights…the row of lights along a runway, beacon lights to warn planes away from radio towers, and, of course, lighthouses. Even though there were lighthouses dating back to ancient Greece, the modern “flash” we think of was the brainchild of Augustin Fresnel. Augustin’s life was forged in the aftermath of the French Revolution and his position as a civil engineer provided him with an opportunity to pursue his passion…light.
Just at a time when Science and Industry raced to keep pace with one another, this delicate, young man threw himself into proving his theory of light and his design for a lens that would change the face of shipping forever. Theresa Levitt details the long history of the Fresnal lens in “A Short, Bright Flash.” Well researched and meticulously fleshed out, this book provides not just the history of the lens design but the political, social and scientific climates that both permitted and nearly prevented it becoming reality. Levitt has reassembled and brought to light the history of a man and an invention that changed the world as we know it. “A Short, Bright Flash” will be of great interest to history buffs but also to anyone who takes joy in a well told story.
This book was provided to me by W.W. Norton & Company for this review but the opinions are entirely my own!

One response to ““A Short, Bright Flash” Illuminates the History of the Modern Lighthouse

  1. If you’re intrigued by lighthouses, I recommend “The Lighthouse Stevensons,” by Bella Bathurst. Novelist Robert Louis Stevenson came from a distinguished family of engineers who built the major lighthouses in the British Isles — each of them was a tremendous feat considering the treacherous waters (and the technology of the 19th century).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s