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The Plan: How to Rescue Society the Day the Oil Stops--or the Day Before Paperback – September 22, 2008
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About the Author
Edwin Black is the award-winning, New York Times and international investigative author of 80 bestselling editions in 14 languages in 61 countries, as well as scores of newspaper and magazine articles in the leading publications of the United States, Europe and Israel. With a million books in print, his work focuses on genocide and hate, corporate criminality and corruption, governmental misconduct, academic fraud, philanthropy abuse, oil addiction, alternative energy and historical investigation. Editors have submitted Black's work nine times for Pulitzer Prize nomination, and in recent years he has been the recipient of a series of top editorial awards. He has also contributed to a number of anthologies worldwide. For his work, Black has been interviewed on hundreds of network broadcasts from Oprah, the Today Show, CNN Wolf Blitzer Reports and NBC Dateline in the US to the leading networks of Europe and Latin American. His works have been the subject of numerous documentaries, here and abroad. All of his books have been optioned by Hollywood for film, with three in active production. His latest film is the screen adaptation War Against the Weak, based on his book of the same name. Black's speaking tours include hundreds of events in dozens of cities each year, appearing at prestigious venues from the Library of Congress in Washington to the Simon Wiesenthal Institute in Los Angeles in America, and in Europe from London's British War Museum and Amsterdam's Institute for War Documentation to Munich's Carl Orff Hall. He is the editor of The Cutting Edge News, which receives more than 1.5 million visits monthly. Black's ten award-winning bestselling books are IBM and the Holocaust (2001), British Petroleum and the Redline Agreement (2011), The Farhud (2010), Nazi Nexus (2009), The Plan (2008), Internal Combustion (2006), Banking on Baghdad (2004), War Against the Weak (2003), The Transfer Agreement (1984), and a 1999 novel, Format C:. His enterprise and investigative writings have appeared in scores of newspapers from the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune to the Sunday Times of London, Frankfurter Zeitung and the Jerusalem Post, as well as scores of magazines as diverse as Playboy, Sports Illustrated, Reform Judaism, Der Spiegel, L'Express, BusinessWeek and American Bar Association Journal. Black's articles are syndicated worldwide by Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post Syndicate, JTA and Feature Group News Service.
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In spite of all of this, I have a few reservations about the presentation. First of all, there is a lot of hyperbole in the book. Oil certainly has the potential to create a great crisis and the oil and auto industries have certainly engaged in some amazing activities that almost demand hyperbolic language to describe. However, sometimes an important idea gets watered down by using such drastic language about everything. Second, Black sometimes comes across as sounding like a conspiracy theorist. Whether it be pointing out how American companies colluded with Nazi Germany or each other in forcing oil on the American public or how current car companies try to keep technology off the road, he paints a picture of powerful forces aligned against progress that even include the government in some cases. Finally, in spite of the fact that the book claims to be a plan for saving us from an oil crisis, by reading between the lines, it seems more likely that we cannot possibly avoid a crisis without miraculous action that seems basically impossible given the current political and economic makeup of the country.
I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in the issue of energy, and specifically oil as it is related to transportation. My recommendation is based not on the fact that I think the author necessarily gets everything right or that there is even a remote chance his plan would be implemented, but rather because it has a lot of little gems of information many people may not have heard before and it genuinely makes you think about the way things work in our society. In many ways it's a frightening book, but there are hints of optimism, and in the end, the whole goal of the book is to suggest that it would actually be possible to deal with an oil crisis in a way that gets us off oil to a large degree in the end.
I especially like the FASA, (Foriegn Agents Security Act) being applied to energy lobbyists, but I think it runs short. I say apply it to ALL lobbyists! Buy the book.
Invest in America. Buy two of these books. Keep one for yourself, (to lend out after reading), and send the other to your congressperson. If they get enough copies maybe they'll get the message. Wouldn't it be great if they started receiving 5 copies a day? 10 copies a day? 100 copies a day?!???!!! Then start emailing them and calling, inquiring if they received your copy. Buy the book.
With the car-makers coming to congress hat-in-hand looking for a bailout, now is the time, (Nov 2008), to make them build more efficient vehicles. A plug-in hybrid that runs on CNG, (compressed natural gas), is EXISTING technology. If you add solar power to a house, the cost of driving a car goes to a penny a mile! (or close enough.)
Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more vital to the United States right now than energy independence, period. Our children's future rides on it. Buy the book.
He then proceeds to outline a plan that, though not perfect, as he admits upfront, functions as a good starting point.
I just finished the Kindle version of this book, and have rated this book four stars, but this has more to do with Amazon's sloppy packaging. There is no table of contents, typos abound (many "i"'s are missing, making me think it was OCR'ed), and footnote numbers in this heavily footnoted tome are not hyperlinked.
For shame, Amazon.
The book itself would've been five stars. Nonetheless, there are a few omissions and blind spots. To wit:
1) No mention of aircraft at all. Why is this? He covers all manner of vehicles, trucks, boats, etc....
2) Black does not seem to ever really consider a very different tack: very high taxes on gasoline, perhaps with temporary vouchers for those who need vehicles for work and can prove it, but cannot afford higher gas prices. Even if this approach is not optimal, he should've addressed it, and outlined its shortcomings. In many contexts, sending a strong price signal is the most efficient way to influence markets.
3) Most importantly of all...he considers this to be an oil crisis. Presumably, however, it can just as easily be viewed as an *energy* crisis.
He states, several times, that "oil is fungible". Well, to some extent, so is energy. Switching our vehicles to electricity, CNG, hydrogen, etc will only stave off the real problem temporarily.
Perhaps this is all he aims at--getting us past the initial crisis. It would be good to state this outright as well.
Despite these shortcomings, this book is very good, bordering on must-read. Only, you might want to opt for the print version, for reasons given above.