$20 Per Gallon

  • by Christopher Steiner
  • Narrated by John Wolfe
  • 9 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Imagine an everyday world in which the price of gasoline (and oil) continues to go up, and up, and up. Think about the immediate impact that would have on our lives.Of course, everybody already knows how about gasoline has affected our driving habits. People can't wait to junk their gas-guzzling SUVs for a new Prius. But there are more, not-so-obvious changes on the horizon that Chris Steiner tracks brilliantly in this provocative work.Consider the following societal changes: people who own homes in far-off suburbs will soon realize that there's no longer any market for their houses (reason: nobody wants to live too far away because it's too expensive to commute to work). Telecommuting will begin to expand rapidly. Trains will become the mode of national transportation (as it used to be) as the price of flying becomes prohibitive. Families will begin to migrate southward as the price of heating northern homes in the winter is too pricey. Cheap everyday items that are made of plastic will go away because of the rising price to produce them (plastic is derived from oil). And this is just the beginning of a huge and overwhelming domino effect that our way of life will undergo in the years to come.Steiner, an engineer by training before turning to journalism, sees how this simple but constant rise in oil and gas prices will totally re-structure our lifestyle. But what may be surprising to readers is that all of these changes may not be negative - but actually will usher in some new and very promising aspects of our society.Steiner will probe how the liberation of technology and innovation, triggered by climbing gas prices, will change our lives. The book may start as an alarmist's exercise.... but don't be misled. The future will be exhilarating.


What the Critics Say

"[T]he surprising snapshots of the future (where rising gas prices might revitalize Detroit) make for vivid and compelling reading." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


I have been following this topic and am very glad to have an audio book on the subject. And there is some good stuff here. The concept for organizing the book is clever. And some of the overall thoughts on our future are interesting as well.

BUT the book is not a great read. The writing is very inefficient. The author takes a long time to make his points, going into many exhaustive and unnecessary stories, perhaps under the mistaken notion that non-fiction must be colored up to be interesting. The whole book could have been 1/3 as long or less.

I also think that Steiner paints a somewhat preposterously smiley face on a ominous future. I wholly agree that, ultimately, a low energy future will be better than what we have now. But getting there from here is another matter. It may well be that mankind will lose billions of people in the change. That won't be happy.

Steiner also fails to discuss the gravity of the link between fossil fuel and the economy. It seems evident to me, or at least obvious enough to discuss, that the boom of modern society since the industrial revolution (and the resultant boom in population) has been the result of our ability to find and use fossil fuel. Once this one time "gift" starts to wane, won't the economy and population and the very complexity of society wane as well? We might be on the verge of an very long contraction of industry. The economy may never "recover." Many of us may have no job prospects except to grow food. Not all of this is bad, but certainly warrants examination and discussion, I would think. And none of it will likely be easy.

I'm not sure why Steiner wrote this book in this way. Is he trying to reassure us so we are not afraid to take action? Is it all a masked attempt to promote nuclear power? Is he just a very optimistic guy? Beats me.

Still, there's little else on audio and this is worth the read.
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- dm


My first review & I regret that it is a negative one. $20 a Gallon starts off like a a college research paper - a plethora of quotes with duly noted sources. It then morphs into a heavy social commentry lightly sprinkled with nuggets of something you can hang your hat on. The author makes grand ecological assumptions (we'll enjoy our national parks more without too-expensive-to-use atv's buzzing around)but employs very little critical analysis (how will we afford to visit the aforesaid parks to enjoy them if even atvs are too expensive to run?) I titled this review relentless because I really do want to finish the book (I still haven't) for the few nuggets of good information but it just seems to go on and on and on........ I would like just the footnotes, please.
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- Sheri F.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-15-2009
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio