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Edison to Enron: Energy Markets and Political Strategies Hardcover – September 27, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0470917367 ISBN-10: 0470917369 Edition: 1st

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Edison to Enron: Energy Markets and Political Strategies + Capitalism at Work: Business, Government and Energy (Political Capitalism)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Scrivener; 1 edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470917369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470917367
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,534,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Summing Up: Highly recommended.  General readers; all levels of undergraduate students.”  (Choice, 1 March 2012)

From the Inside Flap

Energy, the master resource, is the world's largest industry and the bedrock of modern life. Without carbon-based energy, in particular, production and consumption as we know it would not exist. For most people, oil, gas, and coal have made life possible, not only pleasant.

During the last 150 years, the United States has been at the forefront of energy development. Robert L. Bradley Jr.'s Edison to Enron chronicles important swaths of this history by focusing on the great entrepreneurs of electricity and natural gas: their lives and labors, their faults and failures, their mortal enemies, and their sometimes more deadly friends.

Samuel Insull transformed the inventions of Thomas Edison into the modern electricity industry—only to have an Enron/Ken Lay-like fall late in his career. John Henry Kirby helped Texas enter the big leagues with timber, oil, and gas between his two bankruptcies. And Clint Murchison, Ray Fish, Robert Herring, and Jack Bowen, among others chronicled in the book, went through ups and downs in their quest to displace manufactured (coal) gas with cheaper, cleaner natural gas across the United States and in Canada.

Bradley's book covers market entrepreneurship, especially resourceship in regard to energy minerals. Yet there are also significant instances in which the energy creators engaged in political entrepreneurship, or rent-seeking, by extracting special government favor for pecuniary advantage. The waste and perils of the latter provide a stark contrast to the benefits and prudence of free-market enterprise.

Edison to Enron also tracks the career of Kenneth L. Lay, from a minor government bureaucrat to the heir apparent at Transco Energy Company to the wunderkind CEO of Houston Natural Gas Corporation (HNG). A shooting star of the energy business, Lay would transform HNG into mighty Enron, before meeting his unhappy fate less than two decades later—a story told in this book's sequel.

As a rare broad-based history of the American energy industry, Edison to Enron fills a critical gap in historiography and takes its place as a classic account of the energy nation par excellence during its most dynamic century.

Edison to Enron is the second installment of Bradley's trilogy on political capitalism, inspired by the rise and fall of Enron. Book 1, Capitalism at Work: Business, Government, and Energy, provides a worldview of market-based versus political business, as well as an interpretation of energy sustainability. Book 3, Enron and Ken Lay: An American Tragedy, chronologically describes the rise and fall of Enron and the post-Enron world.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lehigh History Student VINE VOICE on February 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Edison to Enron provides a look at the history of the energy industry in the United States and Canada broken up into three parts. This was originally written as three smaller books and as such there is not really any continuity between the three sections to tie them together. The first section on Edison and Samuel Insull was the most interesting and detailed of the books. It covered the race for AC and DC and the plan to electrify the United States. It showcased Insull's plan of electrifying rural America and proving that it was possible. Government regulation and technical components of early electric are also covered in exacting detail.

Book 2 looks at the natural gas industry and early days of the oil industry also going very technical and looking at the idea of political capitalism. I found this part to be the driest and although full of good information just not my area of interest. Book 3 focused on Enron and Ken Lay. The author having been a confidant of Ken Lay had much to say about the management style and how Ken Lay built the company. The fall of the company was not really covered well and there are better books out there for those looking for that side of the story.

Overall if you are looking for a book on energy markets this is not a bad place to start but no you will need to go through a lot of technical reading. For those interested in how Enron got its start you can get a great deal of information here. Due to the disorganization of the three books I am going with three starts since the information is so good.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Edward Durney VINE VOICE on February 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book surprised me. From the title, I expected it to be a diatribe against the evils of Enron. It is not.

Rather, the book traces the major figures in the energy industry starting with Thomas Edison (starting in 1878) and ending with the pre-Enron Kenneth Lay (ending in 1984). The book is, therefore, a history. As the middle volume of a trilogy, it leaves (most of) the discussion of economic policy to the first volume ("Capitalism at Work") and of the evils of Enron to the last volume ("Enron and Ken Lay: An American Tragedy").

As history, the book reads well. The author, Robert Bradley, can tell a story. He gives interesting facts about the people he talks about, and seems to get the context right. For example, he spends a lot of time on Samuel Insull, an interesting character who built the electricity industry as an industry. Other authors mention that Insull died in a Paris subway station with only pennies in his pocket, implying that he died a friendless pauper. Here we learn, though, that no papers or identification were found on Insull's body. So he was no pauper, but had only pennies in his pocket because his wallet had been stolen. Although his riches had all evaporated, Insull still had an annual pension of $21,000, which was plenty to live on at the time.

I've read a lot about energy, and a lot about many (though not all) of the people the book covers. Still I found lots to interest me. The book is not straight history. Policy gets discussed too. But agree with the author or not, the policy adds to the book, rather than dilute the history.

The main fault I found was that the book was a little raw and rambling. Sometimes there was too much detail. Sometimes the strokes of the author's brush were too broad.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Igelfeld VINE VOICE on April 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I finish every book that I review unless it clearly is a reference book. With that said, this book is a very hard read with what I've seen is the most meandering style of writing I've seen in a non-fictional work. My suspicion is that the author wrote this book (vol 2 of a three part series) over an extended period of time and needed to "splice" all of it together. Worse yet, how do you polish an apple that's take a long time to grow? The author, a friend and business associate of Ken Lay, presents in this volume the history of the energy market through three historical characters with the idea that he'll lead to the third volume on the Enron debacle with all readers waiting intently to see what happens (just kidding). In reality, I think the intention of the author is to provide a historical reference that no other author has really attempted. And it definitely comes off as a sort of "War and Peace" type epic of the energy industry.

The extent of my reading is a selection of chapters from the book always hoping with a new chapter to find one that doesn't have me trying to follow the "action". In all honesty, if you're really interested in the energy field and want to know its history, this may be the perfect book, but at times, it's worse than watching paint dry trying to work through the book. I personalize give myself a D- for perseverance which is a category I'm usually an A student. So you decide for yourself whether you want to take a chance at this book, but in the end for most I believe it will be a cure for insomnia.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jewelry Lover on October 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you purchase this book and expect to read about a connection between Edison and Enron, there isn't one. The book is about the importance of energy in our economy and how it has played out for years....

There are ties between the energy industry and government, but that should be no surprise. Most international countries have established 'National Oil Companies'. Our capitalistic approach works well, but the inevitable ties between our economy and energy prices are a real struggle. The book does little to explain this situation well from one side or the other... rather it is a annoyingly neutral commentary on events and evolution of the energy business within the US.

It is a good 'for thought' book, but not one that I'd highly recommend. Stick with Daniel Yeager. He's much more entertaining.
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