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Boom, Bust, Boom: A Story About Copper, the Metal That Runs the World Paperback – April 1, 2014

36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

As the subtitle says, copper really does run the world. No matter whether you’re reading this review online, on a mobile device, or in print, you wouldn’t be reading it without copper. Nor would you be using a staggering number of modern-day conveniences and essentials—no phones, no lights, no motorcars. It’s a good metal, but it has a downside, as Carter learned when he discovered that his small vegetable garden on his property in Bisbee, Arizona, was seriously toxic. Its lead content was 32-percent higher than normal levels, but that was nothing compared to its arsenic, which was 100-percent higher than what’s considered acceptable for residential soil. Why was his soil so toxic? Turns out it’s because, for almost a century, Bisbee was a copper-mining town (the last mine closed in 1975), and the mining process has some potentially catastrophic side effects. This frequently surprising book—Did you know that the Rio Tinto copper mine in Spain has been operating for nearly 4,000 years?—chronicles Carter’s own education in the history of copper mining, in Arizona (home to 11 mines accounting for about 60-percent of the country’s copper production) and around the world. You wouldn’t think a book about copper would be an exciting read, but it is, because the story of copper mining is also the story of industrial innovation, technological revolution, and social and ecological change on a grand scale. --David Pitt --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Copper is the curse of the southwest. Bill Carter’s blazing book takes us to the crime scene where our lust for things murders the earth. Time to kill the cellphone, leave twitter to the twits and listen up.”

—Charles Bowden, author of Murder City

"Bill Carter has extracted something that remains all but unnoticed by most people—copper—and told an incredible story about this amazing metal. Boom, Bust, Boom is the best sort of journalism: beautifully written, rich in detail and impossible to ignore. I particularly loved how Carter wove a personal story into a topic of global scope. I know, as a writer, how hard that is to pull off, and as a reader i am always amazed when someone does. It is a superb book." —Sebastian Junger

“Bill Carter’s new book is utterly engaging. I want to use the words fabulous and hearty. We often think we know the world but then we read a book that tells us we didn’t. Carter is a hard man and he humiliates the copper industry and the grave dangers they carelessly expose us to. A necessary read for thinking Americans.” —Jim Harrison --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Schaffner Press, Inc.; Reprint edition (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936182564
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936182565
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Carter, a native Californian, grew up on a worm farm near the banks of the Sacramento River. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz he traveled Asia for two years, where he studied Chinese and built a home in Indonesia. In the winter of 1993 he went to Sarajevo, Bosnia with a humanitarian aid group delivering food and supplies dressed as a clown. After several months in the besieged city he ended up making the award winning documentary film, MISS SARAJEVO (produced by Bono). He is also the author of FOOLS RUSH IN (Schaffner Press), a memoir that tells the story of his time in Sarajevo and the love story that propelled him to go there in the first place. His second book, RED SUMMER (Schaffner Press), chronicles Carter's four years commercial salmon fishing in a remote village on the shores of Bristol Bay, Alaska. "Boom, Bust, Boom" (Schaffner Press) was released in April 2014. For more information: www.boombustboombook.com

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By John Harris on May 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book from the author at this year's Tucson Book Festival. Bill Carter gave an engaging talk about the book and, in truth, he also writes well. But, if you are looking for a balanced, well-researched discussion of copper, mining in general, or the competing agendas around resource use, don't buy it. What he has presented is a first-person narrative of how copper mining invariably destroys the environment, usually taking local human cultures with it. He pretends to be balanced by acknowledging that miners and mining companies, "see the world differently than I do," but repeatedly paints them as rapacious, self-serving hypocrites. He does not care much for Phoenix either, describing it as a "sprawl of urban diarrhea." Fair enough, I live in Tucson so I can see some faults with Phoenix and I'm well acquainted with what mining has done (and plans to do) with southern Arizona. But demonizing one group of people does not really present a workable solution, at least for most of us. What's needed is a more thoughtful look at the vital role of copper, the technological problems around its extraction and refinement, and the range of alternative solutions to these problems. The first two items are, at best, outlined in this book. The third is completely MIA. If you have no idea that mining creates environmental and human issues, this is a decent place to start your education. If you already know this and wonder how one could fix things, don't bother.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Marianne Dissard on October 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Extremely well-crafted, informative, thought-provoking and explosive piece of work. Never boring despite so much information about an industry I don't know much about and never really cared to know much about. I can't recommend this book enough. Whether you've ever been to Bisbee or Arizona is irrelevant in appreciating this work. We all live in 'mining towns', don't we? Your town may be an 'university' town or a 'tourist' town or a 'retirement' community. Mine is an 'air force' town and I always seem to happily forget it, a human characteristic that is poignantly detailed in the book's central human story. Great read and yes, I was so compelled to give my copy away to a friend. A blueprint for the activists' journey, from self-knowledge to information-gathering and sharing to action.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Emily Fisher/Flying Mermaid on October 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bill Carter has a way of making us care deeply about things we never may have even thought about before, and he does it again, brilliantly, in "Boom, Bust, Boom".

Weaving his personal connections throughout tightly investigated scientific research, he brings readers down into the bottomless pit of land rape and corruption that coincides with copper mining. And somehow he does all this with the tenderness of the finest travel writing, so that running up against crooked corporate types in a frozen wilderness almost feels like vacation.

Thank you, Bill! Once again you've opened my mind to both desperation and beauty, which, 3 for 3, appears to be one of your many talents.

~Emily Fisher
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on November 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bill Carter writes so good I feel as if I'm there with him, feeling his pain and frustrations. This is the 3rd book of his I've read and find him a remarkable writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Harbour on March 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I picked up Bill's book at a reading in New York. Started reading it that night and finished it the next day. Boom, Bust, Boom is an extremely important book bringing to light the environmental impact of our need for copper and the damage that current mining processes cause, and why they are not likely to change. If you are serious about knowing what your impact is, especially if you think by going to "green" energy you are lessening the damage, read this book!
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Charig on March 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I took out "Boom, Bust, Boom" from the library because I thought it would be interesting to me (as a chemist) to read the history of our understanding of copper, what we know, how we learned it, how we use it, etc. That is what the sub-title suggested.

But this is just a very one-sided polemic against the mining industry. You can tell it is not a very authentic study because there is not a single one of the figures - pictures, tables, charts, graphs - that are essential to presenting real factual information. The first chapter describes in detail the poisoning he got from eating home-grown vegetables raised in soil high in heavy metals, which he blames on the local copper mine without once addressing whether those levels might be naturally-occurring. There's a reason why the mine is in that spot. Other reviewers have noted factual mistakes.

Two stars.
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Format: Hardcover
Is this a balanced treatise on copper? Answer is yes. It is a necessary book, a look on the history of civilized man. The possible impact of the Pebble Mine in Alaska is only one example of copper mining ramping up to plunder the largest salmon runs that ever existed on this planet. Critics charge that the author does not offer solutions to the problem. Consider the sweeping content of the book if it also solved the massive problem that exists for modern man too, it would be a miracle. There are those who do live a lifestyle that is not locked into electronic gear. There is plenty enough facts and information provided to be one of the most required reading books out there. It is not a rubber stamp of our current human state and industry. Should it be? I have a PhD in toxicology and many years in research and live a very spartan lifestyle. One reason I gravitated to such a life work is industrial exposure to much of the developing technologies and realization that threats were being overlooked. I went a long way in the US Military. My suggestion read the book. Look up some documentary and balanced videos like the movie "Red Gold". And start trying yourself to be involved. A good way to start is to read books like this.
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