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Blowout in the Gulf: The BP Oil Spill Disaster and the Future of Energy in America [Kindle Edition]

William R. Freudenburg , Robert Gramling
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

On April 20, 2010, the gigantic drilling rig <I> Deepwater Horizon</I> blew up in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven crew members and causing a massive eruption of oil from BP's Macondo well. For months, oil gushed into the Gulf, spreading death and destruction. Americans watched real-time video of the huge column of oil and gas spewing from the obviously failed "blowout preventer." What was missing, though, was the larger story of this disaster. In <I>Blowout in the Gulf</I>, energy experts William Freudenburg and Robert Gramling explain both the disaster and the decisions that led up to it. <I>Blowout in the Gulf</I> weaves a fascinating narrative of failures, missteps, and bad decisions, explaining why this oil spill was a disaster waiting to happen--and how making better energy choices will help prevent others like it.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A gush of books about the BP oil disaster approaches as the investigation into its causes proceeds apace. Freudenburg and Gramling have a head start: they’ve been studying and writing about energy issues and offshore oil drilling for three decades. Drawing on their deep knowledge, they set the deadly BP blowout within a technologically precise history of oil in America, from the first primitivelyconstructed well on land to the development of offshore rigs, explaining that the Deepwater Horizon was actually a technical marvel—if only its operation hadn’t been compromised. Here is a full accounting of BP’s many previous accidents and violations—the company was the worst in the industry for its safety-sacrificing cost cutting. Freudenburg and Gramling also tell the story of the corporation’s first incarnation as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909 and how it became British Petroleum in 1954. Science, commerce, and the politics of oil are all newly illuminated here, accompanied by invaluable explanations of the risks of offshore drilling and a pragmatic look at the energy conundrums we now face. --Donna Seaman


"For a comprehensive and systematic walk-through of how the BP spill played out before, during, and after the Macondo blowout, this book's a good pick. Exploring the technical side of things without sacrificing readability, the authors explain the disaster in its social, political, and scientific contexts." Green Life (Sierra Club)

"For readers interested in knowing more about events leading up to the spill, Blowout in the Gulf provides a solid description of what is now known. The authors examine the technology, geology, management decisions, and regulatory actions involved, and they also provide enough background for general readers to digest these specifics." Times Higher Education

"Here is a full accounting of BP's many previous accidents and violations -- the company was the worst in the industry for its safety-sacrificing cost cutting. Freudenburg and Gramling also tell the story of the corporation's first incarnation as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909 and how it became British Petroleum in 1954. Science, commerce, and the politics of oil are all newly illuminated here, accompanied by invaluable explanations of the risks of offshore drilling and a pragmatic look at the energy conundrums we now face." Booklist

"In this intelligent and refreshingly readable--if inevitably depressing -- expose, Freudenburg and Gramling, professors of environmental studies and sociology respectively, and longtime collaborators and observers of the oil industry, analyze the origins of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and its aftermath.... Readers interested in energy crisis, peak oil, environmental and climate change issues will appreciate the straightforward analysis and will hope this important book finds its way into the hands of policy makers." Publishers Weekly

"The authors make solid points about the way the U.S. government has allowed big oil companies to march into public waters, about how the much-admired interstate highway system contributed to a fateful boom in U.S. oil consumption and about the way Americans ravenously consume oil and gas today." The Washington Post

"An excellent book for seminar courses on energy. Highly recommended." -- J. Tavakoli, Choice

"A smashing book. Freudenburg and Gramling put the spill into the perspective of energy dependence, take us gracefully through technical details blurred by the popular press, grasp the local and national politics (offering some political detergents of their own along the way), and give the spill what will likely be its most masterful handling. The authors' years of work on oil drilling and the carbon economy get a dramatic payoff in this very timely book." Charles Perrow , author of The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters

" Blowout in the Gulf is a fast-paced, vivid account of the century-long rush to exploit that led to the BP disaster. As finite and remote oil and gas supplies dwindle, the risks, human and environmental, will only increase. As the age of oil approaches an end, the authors point us in other, sustainable, directions." Bruce Babbitt , former governor of Arizona and secretary of the Interior, board of directors, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

"An extremely timely and important offering from two of the world's preeminent environmental scholars. Accessibly written for a wide audience, Blowout in the Gulf is both a brilliant analysis and an indictment of the energy-growth machine that gave us one of the signal environmental assaults of our time." Lee Clarke , author of Worst Cases: Terror and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination

Product Details

  • File Size: 641 KB
  • Print Length: 269 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0262015838
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (February 10, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004478728
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,089,206 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Get a printed copy November 20, 2010
By Ngo Bao
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Do not get a Kindle version of this book, at least until Amazon figures out how to convert figures and charts. Most of the "figures" in the book are just black boxes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Application of Risk Analysis Frameworks February 17, 2012
Bill Freudenburg was a mentor of mine in college, who, sadly, passed away two years ago. The tenacity and aggressiveness in his writing was complimented by his brilliant sarcastic wit, and passion for finding systematic problems in environmental issues. His research on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill contributed to many presentations by scientists to Congress in the BP hearings. This book captures much of his passion, and reveals a great deal of systematic challenges not just in off shore oil, but in American energy policy in general. Some of these are actively being dealt with, such as the dissolving of the Minerals Management Service due to poor institutional control.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By JimBob
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a great book (although I agree the Kindle version is pretty frustrating as the charts don't show up). Rather than just stating "Oil Bad!", the authors do a great job of explaining the history of oil drilling in general and deep water drilling in particular. I was also surprised to hear how many years it has been since the United States was even marginally "energy independent". This book presents an excellent wake-up call for the rest of us! Highly recommended, but get the print version
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Authors William R. Freudenburg and Robert Gramling are college teachers, and if you have a chance to take their classes, enroll right away. Professors of environmental studies and sociology, respectively, they are very informative, and they base their conclusions on well-reported facts. Their book links US energy policy to oil politics, corporate performance, risk management, and the technological and geological problems that led to the US's largest peacetime offshore oil spill. The professors cover the oil industry's history and the energy debate in a single, tightly packed volume, including significant accidents, their causes and the paltry penalties companies - especially British Petroleum - paid. The book contends that oil companies wield too much power over prices, policy and the environment. getAbstract considers this vivid story about these tremendously powerful, hugely profitable companies to be essential reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad info but not what I wanted February 2, 2011
By ls
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The first 2 chapters in this book are about the BP oil spill...the 3rd chapter is also somewhat helpful but most of this book is about the oil industry with the added context of the oil spill which is not what I was wanted. If you want a comprehensive report of exactly what happened in the gulf this is not what you want. You want the final report at Granted it's fairly long but it includes a lot of good information and is totally free.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From a fellow author, J.A. (John) Turley September 17, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Blowout in the Gulf is a good read. The academic authors address the impact of BP's blowout and link it to a number of chapters about the environmental tragedy, social impacts, politics, and energy independence. Their book became a good resource as I wrote my book about the cause of the disaster . . . The Simple Truth: BP's Macondo Blowout
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Here is a letter that I wrote to one of the co-authors: Prof. Robert Gramling

Dear Prof. Gramling
I was just starting this letter to you when it came to my notice that your co-author passed away last year. My condolences.
In regards to the book you co-authored with Prof. Freudenberg, `Blowout in the Gulf', there is no question in my mind that the universal policy towards the consumption of oil is the equivalent of `sticking our head in the sand'. And that applies to everyone: politicians, oil companies, and the general public.
In making that argument you are right on the money. And that argument has been made before in many other books. I question though the way in which you tried to tie the Macondo disaster to that argument, stating perhaps that failing to temper the oil-dearth-storm is directly tied in with the criminally negligent manner in which BP went about its business.
There is link, albeit tenuous, in that in being pushed further and deeper to dig up the oil by the public thirst for it, the companies are forced to engage in riskier explorations to find the oil in less than convenient locations. But you didn't make that argument. Or if you were trying to make it didn't come out clearly.
Perhaps the point ought to be made the other way around: that `we' the public ought to temper our use of this precious resource thereby not forcing the oil companies to engage in riskier explorations. Conversely speaking, of course, if we continue to guzzle up the oil, than the oil companies who do go on riskier explorations need to take ever greater precautions to avoid the disaster like the one on the Deepwater Horizon.
But the reality is that that is never going to happen.
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