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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.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
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.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful