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Publisher's Summary

A global tour of energy - the builder of human civilization and also its greatest threat.

Energy is humanity's single most important resource. In fact, as energy expert Michael E. Webber argues in Power Trip, the story of how societies rise can be told largely as the story of how they manage energy sources through time. In 2019, as we face down growing demand for and accumulating environmental impacts from energy, we are at a crossroads and the stakes are high. But history shows us that energy's great value is that it allows societies to reinvent themselves.

Power Trip explores how energy has transformed societies of the past and offers wisdom for today's looming energy crisis. There is no magic bullet; energy advances always come with costs. Scientific innovation needs public support. Energy initiatives need to be tailored to individual societies. We must look for long-term solutions. Our current energy crisis is real, but it is solvable. We have the power.

©2019 Michael E. Webber (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title

"Energy is central to everything we care about in society. But it's also hard to understand. With this book, Webber has done a service by explaining energy in a way that is easy to understand and fun to read." (Ernie Moniz, former US secretary of energy) 

"From creating wealth to starting wars, energy permeates our lives. Webber gives us a sense of just how inseparable energy has been to our past, and will be in our future." (Martin Doyle, professor in the environmental sciences at Duke University) 

"To all of us concerned about new energy shocks and still hopeful of creating a better energy future - this book explains why the stakes of energy transition are higher than ever. It's a really good read and highlights how access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy is essential in everything we do as citizens, consumers, communities and whole societies." (Angela Wilkinson, senior director of Scenarios and Business Insights for the World Energy Council) 

What listeners say about Power Trip

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Academic, but in a very good way

The author is a Prof of Mech E at UT Austin, and a relatively highly-cited researcher.

The book is a fairly comprehensive history of the interplay between water, oil, and renewables, with plenty of technical, economic, sociological, etc. aspects discussed.

Not a dull moment for me to listen to this audible; very well written and read.

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A History of Energy for Everybody

Michael Webber has done an excellent job of explaining the evolution of energy throughout human history. He is able to describe complex topics with overlapping threads without getting bogged down in technospeak. I especially enjoyed his chapters on water and food. They opened my eyes to connections I'd never put together before. In many ways his method of tying things together reminded me of Freakonomics.

I was disappointed in the style of the narration by L. J. Ganser. I know Michael Webber and know his speaking style. He has a great sense of humor and doesn't get preachy. Ganser's narration missed the humor and often sounded like a sermon. I hope that Michael will do his own narrations in the future.

The main message of this book is that there are moral, ethical, and social considerations with all forms of energy. They evolve along with our civilization. No form of energy is all good or all bad. There are always trade-offs. Policy decisions need to be informed by an understanding of the potential consequences. Power Trip does a very good job of explaining what the trade-offs are and what we should be considering. Put another way, knowledge is power.

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Entertaining Trip Through The History of Energy

Dr. Webber weaves the surprising connections between energy, water and major advancements in our civilization. From surprising insights like how the Tennessee Valley River Authority was founded on the back of the women’s suffrage movement to how critical technology shocks that fuel today’s economy were in fact powered by energy innovation, this book is full of great stories of how energy is woven into every facet of our daily lives.

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Eye opening journey

Excellent detailed account of all facets of energy that all humans need for survival. Should be required reading / course for all inhabitants.

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  • Christopher W.
  • 05-11-20

Gave me a whole new perspective!

I hadn’t fully appreciated the role of energy in all its forms in human history before I read this book. Anyone interested in history will love this! It also offers some insightful observation to the ongoing role of energy in our human story and the challenges we face and the solutions on offer in our current times. Well narrated and very well set out, would highly recommend!

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  • Bernadette Hyland
  • 11-15-19

Energy as the foundation of modern society

Meticulously researched treatise on the history, societal impact and future of energy. Key resource for anyone researching the energy industry, past, present or future. Must read for anyone researching or reporting on development, agriculture, education, finance and technology.