In this gripping account of the quest for the energy that our world needs, Daniel Yergin continues the riveting story begun in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Prize.
A master storyteller as well as a leading energy expert, Yergin shows us how energy is an engine of global political and economic change. It is a story that spans the energies on which our civilization has been built and the new energies that are competing to replace them. From the jammed streets of Beijing to the shores of the Caspian Sea, from the conflicts in the Mideast to Capitol Hill and Silicon Valley, Yergin takes us into the decisions that are shaping our future. The drama of oil - the struggle for access, the battle for control, the insecurity of supply, the consequences of use, its impact on the global economy, and the geopolitics that dominate it - continues to profoundly affect our world.
Yergin tells the inside stories of the oil market and the surge in oil prices, the race to control the resources of the former Soviet empire, and the massive mergers that transformed the landscape of world oil. He tackles the toughest questions: Will we run out of oil? Are China and the United States destined to come into conflict over oil? How will a turbulent Middle East affect the future of oil supply?
©2011 Daniel Yergin (P)2011 Penguin
mostly nonfiction listener
2011 was a great year for nonfiction, but no book comes close to The Quest for claiming top honors.
Everything we do depends on energy. Every industry, including higher education, ultimately is possible due to energy. Without energy, we could not teach or do research, heat our classrooms and offices, or cool our data centers. If you walked to campus today (or worked at home) that is terrific, but most of us relied on gasoline to power our cars for our commute. Higher ed may not be like the airlines, where fuel is the largest expense (ours is labor), but we are no less dependent on energy to run our business than Southwest airlines.
The past, present, and future of worldwide energy is a big topic, one that requires a big book. The Quest is 816 pages, none of which are wasted. This is an efficient book. Yergin manages to keep the narrative moving along without skimping on either the stories or the numbers.
The Quest systematically examines every major source of energy, including oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, solar and wind. The origins, technology, sustainability, and personalities attached to each of these major energy sources is given a complete and balanced treatment.
Readers looking either for an indictment or defense of our carbon or renewable fuel sources will be disappointed, as Yergin is scrupulously even-handed and non-polemical. Energy turns out to be too important, and too complicated, to be reduced to simple narratives and slogans. Rather, Yergin manages to consider the role of energy in the environment as well as the economy, while making strong (and actionable) policy recommendations for a sustainable energy future.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This book was pretty good, with very good narration, but it was a bit dry for my taste. The book is loaded with historical information and factoids about the energy industry, energy production technology and climate change, but it seems to me to lack the perspective, depth, and analysis of a good history and lacks the details of a good technical primer. The book takes a non-investigative journalistic tack and the author seems to go to extremes to not expose his own point of view (which is, of course, impossible). The author’s views come through, but only through subtle framing of ideas. I found this a little insidious. I prefer reading many books with many different, yet strong and clear, points of view. The author glosses over many important issues, then presents a bunch of cute anecdotes. The little science presented is weak at best. A bunch of facts may be somewhat interesting but more scrutiny and analysis would make this a much stronger book. Having a book on energy without even mentioning fusion seems odd to me. I learned quite a bit more from Global Warming: Global Threat.
Covers all aspects of our modern energy situation--scientific, technological, environmental, political, economic--in a global narrative history that presents every side of every issue in a fair and straightforward way. Full of compelling stories and fascinating facts.
This book is foundational for understanding the global economic and political challenges of the 21st century, because every aspect of our modern way of life depends on reliable and sustainable energy.
Had a difficult time following the first part of this book as I wasn't familiar with the characters / players / history of the patchwork of states that have emerged since the fall of communism. Perhaps I missed it or perhaps its just impossible to tell the outrageous stories contained in The Prize about powerful people still living. There is probably alot to fear from those people. I would bet my last gold deutsche mark the stories that will one day be told will make this period of time very interesting indeed. Unfortunately I didn't find the first half that interesting, though I really need to sit down with a map and some additional history books to gain a better appreciation. Certainly the role of Russia and its satellites in the world today is vastly underrated. The discussion of Putin and Europe alone is worthwhile enough to justify reading the first 40% of the book.
Really hit stride when discussing the US energy markets and the competing energy alternatives. The book is ambitious and perhaps has too much ground to cover. I know something about these markets so I looked forward to hearing what Daniel Yergin had to say. I have to say I am really impressed by the author. Did he persuade anyone with this book? Probably not as the book is really a quick synopsis of key items and drivers for the energy industry in the recent past and foreseeable future. All as seen and interpreted by Daniel Yergin. I really trust his judgement, but clearly readers who disagree with the fundamental view of the author may not enjoy this book as much. Personally I think if you disagree with Yergin you should benefit from his perspective as he may give you new facts and/or a different perspective. I'm sure certain groups of readers such as peak oilers will disagree however. Highly recommended. Not as easy a read as the Prize... so I used a little p in my headline... still worthy of 5 stars however.
Fascinating journey through the development of the modern energy industry and the story of what led to the "climate change" conversation. Nothing promised nor delivered on where it is all headed.
The author is clearly knowledgeable about the modern oil industry; there were plenty of facts in the book I did not know. However, the book fails in three regards. First, the author displays little understanding of the context of events outside of specific oil-related news. His analysis rarely goes beyond the headline level, and contains no discussion of different perspectives on and reasons for events. Second, the author cherry picks sources to make his point. For instance, his certainty that the Iraq War was based on WMDs rather than, say, oil, is back up by sources ranging from George W. Bush to... Laura Bush. Evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons is provided by "some Arabs say." Finally, the book has no actual story to it. Each chapter deals independently with a facet of or event in modern oil history, with no connection or even transition between them. As such, there is no story to follow.
Thus, the book is good on its oil facts, but poor on context, explanation and story.
The book is full of publicly available information compiled rather as a fact book than as a comprehensive story. The book might be interesting for those who are totally unfamiliar with the state of current world economic and polical events. I found there little inside information, analysis or fresh ideas.
I learned a lot of new information that put events into a plausible framework.
From fossil fuels to renewables
for anyone interested in politics, history, or any aspect of modern society.
This is a great author. I have read “the Prize” at least 3 times and this is as good. It is a great overview of energy. What he has a unique gift for is letting the reader understand the primacy the quest for and acquisition of energy has on everything in our modern life. The book is thorough but fast paced and covers every aspect of energy and provides the reader with a comprehensive understanding of both the recent history of the search for and development of energy sources but also a comprehensive understanding of where we are headed. Its also very level headed…I did not get any “political” agenda. Just the facts. There is no “coal is awful, we need to develop all renewable sources” or “oil is wonderful and will last forever”, rather there is continuous crituqes of previously expounded opinions and the reader can draw his/her own conclusions.
Finally the reading is perfect..well paced, not boring, just a great experience.
I could not recommend more highly..a great great book I am sure I will listen to again.
The book takes an overall look on the global economics of energy. And does it well. I now have a base level understanding of every relevant source of industrial, vehicle and electrical energy. Exactly what I was looking for.One thing, however. I strongly advice to google yourself an understanding of the scales of energy measurements. Things like global daily oil usage in barrels (~80 million), yearly electricity consumption of your home country (around 90 TWh in finland), electricity output of a mediocre nuclear power plant (700 MW where I'm from). That kind of info doesn't transmit very well in the book, and knowing it beforehand helps to understand what the writer is really communicating.
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