In the tradition of Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Thomas L. Friedmam’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded, prominent journalist Amanda Little maps out the history and future of America’s energy addiction in a wonk-free, big-picture, solutions-oriented adventure story.
After covering the environment and energy beat for more than a decade, Amanda Little decided that the only way to really understand America’s energy crisis was to travel into the heart of it. She embarks on a daring cross-country power trip, and describes in vivid, fast-paced prose the most extreme and exciting frontiers of our energy landscape.
At her side we visit an offshore oil rig, the cornfields of Kansas, the Pentagon’s fuel-logistics division, the Talladega Superspeedway, New York City’s electrical grid, and laboratories creating the innovations of a clean-energy future. As Little explains, energy is everything: It grows our crops, fights our wars, makes our plastics and medicines, warms our homes, moves our products and vehicles, and animates our cities.
How did we develop this insatiable appetite for fossil fuels? Little travels through history to track the evolution of America’s energy addiction: the 1897 installation of the world’s first power plant (a Thomas EdisonJ. P. Morgan venture); the 1901 Spindletop gusher that threw open the era of cheap American fuel; FDR’s encounter with a Saudi king that set the stage for our dependence on Middle Eastern oil; General Motors’ early decision to sell big guzzlers rather than small, efficient cars.
Little illustrates how abundant oil and coal built the American superpower—even as they posed political and environmental dangers to the nation and the world. More important, we learn how the same American ingenuity that got us into this mess can get us out of it. With next-generation candor and optimism, Little explores the most promising clean-energy solutions on the horizon, arguing that everything we know about our past teaches us that we can solve the problems of our future.
Hard-hitting yet forward-thinking, Power Trip is a lively and impassioned travel guide for all readers trying to navigate our shifting landscape and a clear-eyed manifesto for the younger generations who are inheriting the earth.