Brilliant Beacons by Eric Jay Dolin

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Brilliant Beacons:

I have nothing snarky for this one. Lighthouses are awesome.

Quick synopsis:

A comprehensive history of the American lighthouse.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

A Fresnel lens can be seen 20 miles out to sea. It may not seem like very far to you, but if you are in a ship out in a storm, every mile counts.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

American lighthouses were way behind the times for a long while. While Europe improved their lights and lenses, American lighthouses were decades behind their competitors. 

My Take on Brilliant Beacons:

I should start off by saying that I love everything about lighthouses so maybe I am biased. I am not ashamed to say so. Was I predisposed to love this book before cracking the cover? Yes, but it’s still that good. Trust me.

Dolin does a great job of giving you everything a lighthouse fanatic would need. He gets into the science, the history, the famous stories, and ones you’ve never heard of. He doesn’t get too bogged down in any specific details and by the end you feel like you got all the information you needed.

I found the science part to be more interesting than I expected. And as everyone knows, the elimination of the lighthouse keeper position is a sad development at the end. Dolin handles this well and really gets the emotion out of you. Or maybe I am a big baby. I dunno.

Read it and have fun!


If you care about lighthouses even a little bit then this book is the one for you. Buy it here!

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