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Power Trip: From Oil Wells to Solar Cells---Our Ride to the Renewable Future 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0061353253
ISBN-10: 0061353256
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The inscription on a granite obelisk in Beaumont, Tex., claims: On this spot on the tenth day of the twentieth century, a new era in civilization began. On that scrubby mound of dirt gushed a fountain of oil that sprayed for days, tripled U.S. oil production overnight and set off a frenzy that revolutionized the industrial age. Previously, crude oil and its derivative, kerosene, held little more value than cheap ways to heat and light homes, but as wildcatters, engineers and investors began to conjure how the new fuel could power—and liberate—people, oil grew integral to modern life. Environmental journalist Little picks up during the summer blackout of 2003, when a massive line of electrical cable shorted, leaving six major metropolitan areas without power for days. Reflecting on the impact of the power outage, Little examines the role fossil fuels plays in her own life, and out of her self-examination emerges a thoughtful—if occasionally self-conscious—book that gives energy neophytes an accessible way to learn about fossil fuels and their fallacies. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Ambitious and highly readable. . . . [Little] expertly ties together disparate strains of history to make her case. . . . Jargon-free and written with a fine eye for detail-one of the best books on America’s energy crisis to emerge in recent years.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

Power Trip offers a panoramic view of our energy crisis, exploring past, present, and future with hope, passion and humor. Whether you are liberal or conservative, expert or novice, young or old, you’ll find adventure and insight in this book.” (Robert F. Kennedy Jr., co-author of Not a Drop to Drink: America's Water Crisis)

“Energy is the most important story in the world bar none, and no one has ever told it with more verve than Amanda Little. If you want to know how the world works, and why it may not work much longer, this is the book you need.” (Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future)

Power Trip takes a most timely and complicated issue and weaves a fast, fun, and gripping story—one that’s both candid and unflinching in its approach. Amanda represents the best of a new young perspective, a new voice of green.” (Robert Redford)

“Lively, engaging and most thought-provoking. . . . Little answers the questions that perplex many-and, so importantly, identifies the key questions that only the future will answer.” (Daniel Yergin, Pulitizer Prize-winning author of The Prize: the Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power)

“A wonderfully illuminating voyage. Little charts a fresh path outside the usual doctrinaire accounts on energy. Her intelligence and enthusiasm will change the way you think about the future.” (Steven Johnson, bestselling author of The Ghost Map and The Invention of Air)

“It’s hard to imagine a book about energy that would appeal as much to a business executive as it would to an eco-activist-or, for that matter, to a soccer mom, a farmer, a politician or a student. Here it is . . . a must-read for everyone.” (Jim Rogers, Chairman and CEO of Duke Energy)

“Charming, fun, and deeply informed, Power Trip is a great way to get a handle on our energy and environmental future. Little talks to the key players across America, digs into the reasons we have so many problems, and finds hope for a better world ahead.” (Congressman Jim Cooper, Nashville, TN)

“Combine the historical intrigue of Jared Diamond, the journalistic flare of Tom Wolfe, and the passionate advocacy of Rachel Carson-and you get Power Trip. Amanda Little’s multifaceted approach makes this the one book about our energy past and future that everyone should read and all will enjoy.” (Andrew Shapiro, founder and president of GreenOrder)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061353256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061353253
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,245,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Terry Sunday TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Power Trip" is quite a rarity among books about the environment. It is, perhaps alone in the genre, a sober, balanced weighing of the positives and negatives of mankind's dependence on fossil fuels. It is well-researched, factual, comprehensive, non-hysterical and apolitical. Author Amanda Little has no apparent hidden agendas, no obvious axes to grind, and no perceivable motivations beyond presenting the facts behind today's acrimonious debates about petroleum and its byproducts. She does this very well. "Power Trip" is a significant, detailed, entertaining and highly readable book that everyone with an opinion about America's energy past, present or future should read.

I especially like the organization and structure of "Power Trip." The first part, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Oil," contains seven chapters covering how the world got to where it is today in its dependence on oil and petroleum products. Each chapter is roughly 30 pages long. For example, Chapter 1, "Over a Barrel," describes the history of American and international oil industries from the first well in Pennsylvania to the latest deep-water drilling techniques. Chapter 3, "Road Hogs," takes a nonjudgmental (despite its title) look at the cars we drive, the roads we drive them on, and even at NASCAR racing. Chapter 4, "Plastic Explosive," is a fascinating survey of the literally tens of thousands of plastic products, all derived from petroleum, that fill every aspect of our lives today. This chapter is especially eye-opening for those who think we can quickly and easily wean ourselves from dependence on oil. It's not that easy...

The second part, "Greener Pastures," contains four chapters that present visions of some possible energy futures.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
In the vast miasma of bi-partisan, post-Orwellian, 24-hour-newsadelic opinions about the state of our energy dependence, POWER TRIP is a solar-powered beacon of truth. Amanda Little hits the sweet spot between James Kunstler and Freeman Dyson with authority, brio and humor. What could have been another dire list of shortcomings and impossibilities turns out to be the feel-good read of the year. Grease your bike chains and put on your Wellies, kids; the future looks bright. Thanks, Mrs. Little.
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This book is an informative overview of our energy history. Overall, it is an ok survey of the energy industry, but the writing style is that of a reporter/columnist and not an academic or historian.

The book is about a mile wide and inch deep overview of the power industry. If you are looking for something like "The Prize" (the best book on oil out there) for the whole industry, look elsewhere.

There is a lot of first person dialog that's annoying to read -("I looked at my salad, and realized the pears were from country x, the arugula from country y, the romaine from country z... I had NO idea I was eating a salad from all over the world.") There is a lot of rhetorical "questioning" that I got tired of quickly. ("I needed to know how my salad got here.")

Power Trip covers all the bases, but I'm not a huge fan of how it gets there.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
through the current energy landscape in the US. This is a book for anyone interested in catching up on the potentially most important sector of the near future.

Ms. Little gives a comprehensive overview of how energy is produced and consumed with a focus on how the status quo is improved. Thus, a topic which in the past has often made for books focusing on the gloom and doom aspects is given a completly different connotation. It is still made clear that we should not stay on the current path and that we need to pay more attention on how we consume energy. Ms. Little however does not tell her readers that they will have to sacrifice everything but that they will have to improve everything. An approach that holds tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses.

In conclusion this book aims (and succeeds) at making it clear that environmentalists and big business should work together for the benefit of the planet instead of trying to fight each other until they drop. And any book that succeds at that is a book one can only recommend.
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I didn't think a book about such a potentially dry and depressing topic could be such a magical journey -- Ms. Little takes us down the rabbit-hole of energy sourcing, generation and consumption, pulling together engrossing and occasionally hilarious anecdotes with impressively assembled data and well-balanced analysis. This is not a partisan screed, but rather, an exceedingly well-informed and forward-thinking vision of how we can prioritize our use of petrochemicals and leverage new technologies to mitigate climate change. This book is required reading, and Ms. Little a national treasure -- the next generation of American ingenuity.
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Format: Hardcover
Power Trip is 21st century journalism at it's very best. What makes Power Trip a pleasure to read is what makes it important to read--Little seeks and finds the technologies, the people, and the companies who are day by day making it more possible for the good life and the green life to sustain each other. In a field where bias abounds,a field frequently defined by polar oppositions of environment and economics, Little has written a book that constructs a path beyond that divisiveness, a path, she effectively argues, will lead to economic and ecological success.

Little's willingness to examine how her own passions for consumption and impulses towards conservation tangle and resolve work together to create a tender and adventurous tone, that underscore an informed optimism that is never naive, an informed politics that is never shrill, and a narrative thread that is taunt, paragraph by paragraph, that place Power Trip at the top of the Energy Book list. Wonder what it is about Nashville that it has produced the two most significant environmental writers of the last decade-- Al Gore and now Amanda Little.
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