high quality Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, high quality and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry high quality on Earth sale

high quality Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, high quality and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry high quality on Earth sale

high quality Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, high quality and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry high quality on Earth sale

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2021 GRAMMY® Winner for Best Spoken Word Album

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Big Oil and Gas Versus Democracy—Winner Take All


“A rollickingly well-written book, filled with fascinating, exciting, and alarming stories about the impact of the oil and gas industry on the world today.”—The New York Times Book Review

In 2010, the words “earthquake swarm” entered the lexicon in Oklahoma. That same year, a trove of Michael Jackson memorabilia—including his iconic crystal-encrusted white glove—was sold at auction for over $1 million to a guy who was, officially, just the lowly forestry minister of the tiny nation of Equatorial Guinea. And in 2014, Ukrainian revolutionaries raided the palace of their ousted president and found a zoo of peacocks, gilded toilets, and a floating restaurant modeled after a Spanish galleon. Unlikely as it might seem, there is a thread connecting these events, and Rachel Maddow follows it to its crooked source: the unimaginably lucrative and equally corrupting oil and gas industry.

With her trademark black humor, Maddow takes us on a switchback journey around the globe, revealing the greed and incompetence of Big Oil and Gas along the way, and drawing a surprising conclusion about why the Russian government hacked the 2016 U.S. election. She deftly shows how Russia’s rich reserves of crude have, paradoxically, stunted its growth, forcing Putin to maintain his power by spreading Russia’s rot into its rivals, its neighbors, the West’s most important alliances, and the United States. Chevron, BP, and a host of other industry players get their star turn, most notably ExxonMobil and the deceptively well-behaved Rex Tillerson. The oil and gas industry has weakened democracies in developed and developing countries, fouled oceans and rivers, and propped up authoritarian thieves and killers. But being outraged at it is, according to Maddow, “like being indignant when a lion takes down and eats a gazelle. You can’t really blame the lion. It’s in her nature.”

Blowout is a call to contain the lion: to stop subsidizing the wealthiest businesses on earth, to fight for transparency, and to check the influence of the world’s most destructive industry and its enablers. The stakes have never been higher. As Maddow writes, “Democracy either wins this one or disappears.”

Review

Blowout is a rollickingly well-written book, filled with fascinating, exciting and alarming stories about the impact of the oil and gas industry on the world today. . . . [It features] many colorful tales about villains, scoundrels and adventurers. . . . A brilliant description of many of the problems caused by our reliance on fossil fuels.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“An account of international intrigue, high finance, low characters, and outrageous legal and illegal acts that put the global economy and Western democracy at grave risk . . . [Maddow] tells this tale deliberately and methodically, building her case not as a cable commentator, but as a Rhodes Scholar. . . . She displays a deep understanding of what makes Russia work in the age of Putin.” Boston Globe

“I can’t stress enough what a great storyteller Rachel Maddow is. [She carries] the reader through some hair-raising journalism in such an engaging and propulsive fashion you simply cannot put the book down. . . . It has left a most lasting impression.” San Francisco Chronicle

“At its heart, this book is a tale of two countries, the United States and Russia, and how, as Maddow sees it—individually and together—they have been warped by a rapacious fossil fuel industry. . . . Fulminating comes easy to Rachel Maddow. What sets her apart from other serial fulminators is that she does it with facts—and sardonic wit.” The Washington Post
 
“All fans of Maddow, and even her detractors, will learn something new from this highly readable yet impressively detailed book. Anyone interested in the covert deals that change the nature of the global environmental and political landscape will devour. A must-have for all collections.” Library Journal (starred review)
 
“Radiates zing, intelligence, and black humor. Much like its author.” InStyle
 
“[Maddow] may be a popular, progressive news-and-commentary anchor on MSNBC, but it''s not to be forgotten that she holds a doctorate in politics from Oxford and seems to devour whole libraries of data before breakfast each day. . . . Expect a tweetstorm as Maddow’s indictment of a corrupt industry finds readers—and it deserves many.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Known for her intense inquiries into complex subjects, Maddow brings her laser-like intuitiveness and keen and wily perception to Big Oil, that stalwart of global economics, and the shadowy nexus of commerce and politics. Maddow likes murky, the murkier the better, and her examination of the intricacies of off-shore drilling, transnational pipelines, and hydraulic fracking is as deep as the coveted wells themselves. . . . Like trailblazing journalists before her, Maddow exposes both the slapdash and sinister practices underlying geopolitics and energy policies and revels in peeling back the layers of malfeasance to stoke righteous outrage.” Booklist (starred review)

About the Author

Rachel Maddow is host of the Emmy Award–winning  Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, as well as the #1  New York Times bestselling author of  Drift: The Unmooring of American Military PowerBlowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth; and  Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-Up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House. Maddow received a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Stanford University and earned her doctorate in political science at Oxford University. She lives in New York City and Massachusetts with her partner, artist Susan Mikula.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

One

Splendor and Fragrance

If you had to point to a beginning, to the exact location of the big bang from which American industrial and economic power began its astounding and sometimes reckless expansion, it would be at the end of a percussion-driven, blunt-force drill bit, lowered through a cast-iron pipe, powered by a six-horsepower steam engine, slamming down and down and down into the earth on a farm in northwest Pennsylvania. At a depth of sixty-nine and a half feet, the operators of the drill struck what they had been looking for, and on August 28, 1859, the crude yet sublime substance—“rock oil,” as it was called at the time—presented itself on the earth’s surface.

That discovery, like the big bang itself, is but a subatomic pinhole in space compared with all that has followed. Edwin Laurentine Drake and his hired man, “Uncle Billy” Smith, pulled the equivalent of maybe twenty forty-two-gallon barrels of crude oil from the ground on a good day. The inhabitants of our planet weren’t exactly starving for more in 1859, or at least didn’t yet know they were. The first commercially viable gas-powered engine, and the ensuing addiction, were still a few generations away.

Today’s drillers produce an average of more than ninety million barrels of oil worldwide every day, and a lot of natural gas, too, which fuels cars, jets, freight trains, ocean liners, power plants, factories, and farm machinery, as well as the economies of republics, monarchies, and dictatorships around the globe. Nearly a hundred countries, representing six continents, are in the oil and gas game, and many have been in it for a century or more. But the United States got there first (Russia was a very distant second), and only the United States can lay claim to having shaped the industry’s prevailing culture: the tools of its trade, its financing, its administration, its ethic, and its reach. “The organization of the great business of taking petroleum out of the earth, piping the oil over great distances, distilling and refining it, and distributing it in tank steamers, tank wagons, and cans all over the earth,” the president emeritus of Harvard noted in 1915, “was an American invention.”

In fact, it could be argued, the oil business as we know it today was the invention of one particular American, John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller was there almost from the beginning. He created and husbanded the exemplar of the industry, Standard Oil, and along the way he helped to popularize the idea of America as the testing ground where the extravagant possibilities and the outsized benefits of free-market capitalism have been proven. Rockefeller, a junior partner in a Cleveland merchant commission house trading in grain, hay, meat, and miscellany when Edwin Drake made his strike in 1859, watched the oil business unfold up close. When he entered the field in 1863, at age twenty-three, he understood his best bet was to concentrate on refining the crude oil and to leave to others the rather messy and costly process of actually getting it out of the ground.

Within ten years, Rockefeller had managed to get control of nearly all of the oil refineries in Cleveland, which had established itself as the nation’s main refining center. Rockefeller’s new corporation, Standard Oil, shipped a million barrels of refined oil in a single year. By 1875, thanks to the fire sale that followed the first frightening financial panic and depression in industrialized America, Rockefeller had taken control of every major refining center in the country. “We were all in a sinking ship,” he would later explain, “and we were trying to build a lifeboat to carry us all to shore. . . . The Standard was an angel of mercy, reaching down from the sky, and saying ‘Get in the ark. Put in your old junk. We’ll take the risks!’ ”

Standard Oil’s main product at the time was kerosene, which proved a welcome innovation in illumination. It was efficient, effective, plentiful, and reasonably priced. The most widely used lighting oil at the time, which was struck from soft coal, was dirty; whale oil was hard to get (see Moby-Dick) and dwindling in supply; kerosene from petroleum—or rock oil—was just the thing to illuminate the clean, bright new future. “Rock oil emits a dainty light,” promised the new industry. “The brightest and yet the cheapest in the world, a light fit for Kings and Royalists and not unsuitable for Republicans and Democrats.” Farmers and city dwellers could afford to read well into the night. Factory owners could afford to keep their works open around the clock. Rockefeller’s magic potion was a worldwide phenomenon; in 1875, before any European-based company was producing kerosene in bulk, 75 percent of the output from Rockefeller’s American refineries was loaded up and shipped overseas. Cash flowed back across the Atlantic. Standard’s production capacity grew year after year. The efficiencies that followed—economies of scale—allowed Rockefeller to cut the cost of refining by more than 85 percent and to cut the cost to the consumer by 70 percent. Demand swelled, and so did revenues.

Rockefeller’s company, meanwhile, just kept eating would-be competitors. About 90 percent of America’s crude flowed through Standard Oil by the end of the 1890s. The company had money and means to produce its own crude, and refine it, and get it shipped to market on its own (always favorable) terms. Standard was capable of controlling the price of oil and railroad freight rates and had cash in the bank to pay off the state and federal legislators who wrote laws governing the industry. “John D. and his colleagues regarded government regulators as nuisances to be bypassed wherever possible,” says Rockefeller’s estimable biographer, Ron Chernow. “He felt that politicians were basically parasites who would shake down businessmen. I mean, all of this bribery he saw as extortion; that is, the politicians shaking him down, rather than his paying off the politicians. . . . I think he regarded these payments really as a business expense.”

Standard Oil eventually grew into “the largest business empire on earth,” according to Chernow. “I don’t know that the business world has ever seen an agglomeration of wealth and power on the scale of Standard Oil.” This was the era of consolidation, of the Big Trust, which was nineteenth-century parlance for monopoly—the Sugar Trust, the Beef Trust, the Steel Trust, the Tobacco Trust, the Rope-and-Twine Trust. But the Rockefeller-controlled Oil Trust was the first, the biggest, the most powerful, and easily the most talked-about trust in the country. Rockefeller himself stood with Andrew Carnegie (steel), Philip Armour (meat products), and James Buchanan Duke (cigarettes) as the richest and most powerful commodity producers on the continent. They sat on mounds of private wealth unimaginable in the young republic at the time of Rockefeller’s own birth. John D. died nearly fifty years before the debut of the Forbes 400, the annual listing of the wealthiest private individuals in the country. But when the editors of a book timed to coincide with the twenty-fifth-anniversary edition of that list made some calculations, they declared Rockefeller the richest single individual in the history of America. They figured his peak net worth at $305 billion (in 2006 dollars), which means that if John D. were to be magically reanimated today, with his peak fortune still intact, his personal wealth would roughly triple that of the whippersnapper who sat atop the Forbes list in 2019.

Millions of barrels of ink have been expended in trying to explain the reasons for Rockefeller’s spectacular achievement, to reveal the cardinal (and perhaps replicable) tactic, to pinpoint the specific innate genius that made it all happen. Theories abound. Take, for instance, what could be called the Bung Theory. A bung is the stopper once used to seal up a barrel of oil, and Rockefeller’s intense interest in this unromantic industrial cog, his keen watch on the monthly bung count, offers a tantalizing lead on the secret to his success. “Your March inventory showed 10,750 bungs on hand,” Rockefeller once wrote to one of his foremen. “The report for April shows 20,000 new bungs bought, 24,000 bungs used, and 6,000 bungs on hand. What became of the other 750 bungs?” Maybe the key was pinching every penny! John D. Rockefeller wasted nothing, see, so he could push his costs down, undercut all competitors on price, and drive them out of the business, or at least into Standard Oil’s angel of mercy ark.

Then there is the well-traveled Great Monster Theory. “Run, children, or Rockefeller’ll get you,” was a threat that could strike terror in the Pennsylvania oil patch in the late nineteenth century. The Great Monster Theory gained much currency in the popular mind after Ida Tarbell’s remarkable series of investigative articles published in McClure’s Magazine beginning in 1902, “The History of the Standard Oil Company.” Tarbell, who grew up in the patch, itemized the more than thirty years of Rockefeller’s underhanded, corrupt, predatory behavior that constituted his effort to wipe the field of competitors. He was, in Tarbell’s rendering, a rapacious and devious villain. Widows and orphans, beware. It didn’t hurt that Rockefeller, aged sixty-three at the time of publication, looked ready to inhabit the villain role by then. He was already growing thin and pinched—and worse. “He suffered from something called alopecia. In 1901, he lost not only all the hair on his head; he lost all body hair,” Chernow explains. “Ida Tarbell came along a year later, did this series portraying him as a monster. And since he was hairless and suddenly looked old—and ghoulish—his appearance seemed to ratify what she was saying in the series, so that the timing was particularly unfortunate for Rockefeller.”

There is also the Man of His Times Theory. Rockefeller, this theory posits, was simply playing by the very loose set of rules of his day, just like everybody else was. The boundaries of capitalism and democracy in America were still being chalked, the rules of the game still being written. The prevailing ethic was best summed up by one of Rockefeller’s early partners, Henry M. Flagler, who kept a copy of this little ditty on his desk: “Do unto others as they would do unto you—and do it first.” The point of the free market was not to compete but to win. “The most serious charge that can be laid at [Standard’s] door is that it has succeeded,” wrote an oilman who felt compelled to sell out to Rockefeller in the 1880s or suffer the consequences. “It has outwitted its competitors who sought to play the same game but had not so thoroughly mastered the art. . . . In the business battle, the extremity of one is the opportunity of the other. . . . It is the rule of our competitive life that the time when the business rival is on the downward road—when creditors are pressing him hard, when banks are clamoring that he shall meet his paper, when the sheriff is threatening to close his doors—this is the opportunity for the other rival to strike the finishing blow and make merchandise out of the misery of his fellow-man.” Rockefeller’s eldest son and heir offered an exceedingly aromatic metaphor to justify this need to (occasionally, of course) rely on cutthroat tactics. “The American Beauty Rose can be produced in the splendor and fragrance which bring cheer to its beholder only by sacrificing the early buds which grow up around it,” John D. junior sermonized. “This is not an evil tendency in business. It is merely the working-out of a law of nature and a law of God.”

Rockefeller himself had a number of pet theories about his spectacular rise. A devout and puritanical Baptist, John D. was certain there was a higher being at work. “I believe the power to make money is a gift from God,” he explained to one writer, “just as are the instincts for art, music, literature, the doctor’s talent, the nurse’s, yours—to be developed and used to the best of our ability for the good of mankind. Having been endowed with the gift I possess, I believe it is my duty to make money and still more money, and to use the money I make for the good of my fellow man according to the dictates of my conscience.”

These various theories, and the many others in circulation, are not mutually exclusive. The whole truth of John D. Rockefeller is complicated and involves pieces of them all. But the rock-bottom fact on which everything else rests is actually quite simple: Standard Oil just kept turning out the finest product on the market, at the lowest price to the consumer. Ka-ching!

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Top reviews from the United States

D. F. WattTop Contributor: Photography
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A brilliant deep dive into the geopolitics of the fossil fuel companies - a wake up call to action!
Reviewed in the United States on October 1, 2019
This is for sure some of Rachel Maddow''s best work. And that''s saying something given her prior achievements in relationship to ‘deep-dive’ journalism. It should be required reading for anybody who wants to understand how we got on the near precipice of the staggering... See more
This is for sure some of Rachel Maddow''s best work. And that''s saying something given her prior achievements in relationship to ‘deep-dive’ journalism. It should be required reading for anybody who wants to understand how we got on the near precipice of the staggering environmental catastrophe known as ‘global warming’ and now increasingly referred to with that other euphemism - ’climate change’. The book is riveting, charming, infuriating, and brilliant in its depiction of the co-option of many governments, particularly our own, in the breakneck sociopathic/utilitarian exploitation of natural resources, in the service of unlimited fossil fuels, long-term environmental consequences be damned. All skillfully rationalized (jobs, energy independence, ''progress,'' etc.)

And yet I have to say, despite my enormous respect for this book, it comes up short framing the bigger picture of how something this catastrophic might really have happened. Standing back a goodly distance, one has to say that one common denominator is that we find sociopaths or at least individuals with significant sociopathic features in leadership positions within both powerful global corporations and within many governments. Rachel''s book is littered with them - they are the stars and cast of her story. They simply do not care about the consequences to others of their exploitation of the environment, do not care that they are sacrificing the long-term planetary health for short-term gain, and simply do not care in anything but the most token fashion about the world''s citizens, especially the less fortunate and less privileged ones who will certainly bear the extremely punitive impacts of climate change in the intermediate term. Not only do they not care but I believe many of them are genuinely psychologically incapable of caring. On the other hand, they care greatly about money, and the acquisition and corrupt exercise of power. And that''s the problem. What the hell are we doing? Rachel talks about how real democracy is the only answer to this – but it''s worth remembering that our increasingly manipulated democracy just gave the reins of an aggrandized presidency to Donald Trump, perhaps our second clearly sociopathic president since WWII. But they are everywhere.

That is the question which the book begs but does not ask explicitly: why do we so often put sociopaths in charge – not in one place but all over the place? Can''t we see who they are? This is really the disturbing question that Rachel does not ask us clearly enough to ponder. Why do we find people like Trump, Putin, Duterte, Erdoğan and yes, paradigmatically Hitler, worthy of leadership and the public trust? How did Putin become the richest and most powerful man in the world running what is essentially a Mafia state with nuclear weapons, working to destabilize and undermine all the Western democracies? What is wrong with us, that as sheep that we repeatedly and willingly enable the most ruthless of wolves?

Even a cursory review of our history forces a conclusion that this alarming trend of populist naïveté, and the serial give away of power to the sociopathic is nothing new. If anything, quite the opposite. We apparently have been suckers for a never-ending parade of sociopathic and narcissistic leaders who have charmed us, seduced us and demagogued us into giving them power for as long as we have had human history, often times by channeling populist fear and hatred for out groups and other all-too-convenient scapegoats. The worst forms of tribalism appear to be the best friends and core weaponry of the worst sociopathic leaders. While they don''t care about the environment, or the masses they exploit, they do care deeply about money and power. And they are good at acquiring and keeping it - and getting more of it! But it''s never enough, as nothing seems to fill a hidden emptiness.

And yet this answer itself is also unsatisfying - and gets each of us off the hook. We have to confess that our own utilitarian attitude towards Nature, that the biosphere on this planet is just a pile of resources to exploit without concern, and not something that we have to shepherd and care for, this exploitive and utilitarian attitude has been the invisible partner and enabler of our sociopathic corporate and government leadership around the exploitation of fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels have powered the wonders of our technological civilization, but that has led us to a fundamental overconfidence. We have too much faith in technology – technology cannot fix everything, and it cannot replace a fatally damaged ecology. One thing is clear – we are running out of time in which to figure these things out, to save the good and even wondrous parts of our technological civilization. Rachel''s brilliant book hopefully will motivate us to take desperately needed action . . . and soon, and to better see through the fog of lies by those with the sickest of motives. As she says, real democracy must win out, or it, and much of the biosphere, dies in a sixth mass extinction that already has a scary level of momentum.
1,138 people found this helpful
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ehoward29
5.0 out of 5 stars
Captivating and extremely informative
Reviewed in the United States on October 1, 2019
The history of the oil and gas industry and how it has permeated politics, trade relations and more is chronicled in BLOWOUT, by Rachel Maddow. Maddow starts with Rockefeller and the beginning of the oil industry and continues through the beginning of the Trump... See more
The history of the oil and gas industry and how it has permeated politics, trade relations and more is chronicled in BLOWOUT, by Rachel Maddow. Maddow starts with Rockefeller and the beginning of the oil industry and continues through the beginning of the Trump administration. Maddow covers the environmental impacts of the industry, the greed and narcissistic dominance that breeds from oil and gas, and the political highs and lows that have crossed paths with desire to be master of oil and gas.
Maddow does an excellent job of providing historical texture to each facet of the oil and gas industry. From the history of Oklahoma City and the state of Oklahoma, to the creation and evolution of the magnates in the industry, to the foreign, specifically Russian, approach to oil and gas collection and all of the right and wrong ways they went about it. Maddow''s black humor and harsh criticism of industry and political leaders is clear; she uses those tools to point out the absurdity that all of the greed and naricissism that the industry creates. One of the best aspects of the book is the description of fracking; how it works, the benefits of it and if done improperly, the multitude of problems it creates.
Well-written and compelling to read, BLOWOUT fosters a greater understanding of the entire industry and while there are moments that Maddow is clearly making her opinions known, the core of the book is refreshingly unbiased and factual.
Thank you to Crown Publishing, Rachel Maddow, and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
552 people found this helpful
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Jill B
5.0 out of 5 stars
The truth
Reviewed in the United States on October 1, 2019
Another fascinating and eye opening read by my favorite anchor/reporter/ hero. An important addition to her previous book this one focuses on the oil and gas industries. Russia, Tillerson Exon Mobil are all exposed and it’s a mouth gaping account of corporate greed,... See more
Another fascinating and eye opening read by my favorite anchor/reporter/ hero. An important addition to her previous book this one focuses on the oil and gas industries. Russia, Tillerson Exon Mobil are all exposed and it’s a mouth gaping account of corporate greed, lies and how we need to act now, before it’s too late.
417 people found this helpful
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C Wm (Andy) Anderson
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Viewpoint That Needs Attention, BUT...
Reviewed in the United States on October 1, 2019
In the interest of full disclosure, I must inform readers that I have, throughout my career in quality and safety, earned a living working for nuclear, oil, and gas companies. Further, although I am a left-of-center democrat. Regarding energy, however, I consider myself a... See more
In the interest of full disclosure, I must inform readers that I have, throughout my career in quality and safety, earned a living working for nuclear, oil, and gas companies. Further, although I am a left-of-center democrat. Regarding energy, however, I consider myself a pragmatic. Thus, reading Rachel Maddow’s “Blowout,” is a tough pill to swallow.

One point more: I have watched only, perhaps, a half-dozen of her shows on TV. This is because I shy away from most partisan political TV, not because I don’t respect her acumen. Her reports, just as is most of the information presented in “Blowout,” is accurate and factual. The discrepancy, for me, is that it is one-sided.

By all means, I do recommend reading this book. Even recommend purchasing the Audible edition, as I have. But don’t stop there. Get the other side, as well.

Chapters 11 and 12, for example, are extremely helpful if one desires learning, precisely, what hazards exist from fracking, and why we should care. She also points out that the controls and mitigations that do exist are fallible due to the human element. I wholeheartedly agree. The Union Carbide incident in Bhopal, India is an example. Thousands died because somebody made a misjudgment in a system thought to be nearly impossible to screw up.

Three Mile Island and Chernobyl are two other examples. At a nuclear plant in the Pacific Northwest, I once was employed to observe the inspector who was witnessing the robotic installation of some locknuts in a steam generator. Neither the operator nor the inspector detected a nonconformity in the operation, when I stopped them. After some intense discussion, we found that I was correct, so we double-checked the locknuts installed during the previous 8 hours and found six or eight failures. If only one of the locknuts had vibrated loose once the generator was again working, people estimated the costs would have amounted to from $10 Mn to $200 Mn dollars, depending upon certain factors that I cannot discuss.

Suffice it to say, even when stringent controls are introduced, human fallibility negates science.

BOTTOM LINE

Three stars out of five, because, despite impressive research and facts, this is a one-sided look at a complex, thorny, issue. Every politician should read it and should make it required reading for each member of their staff. They also, though, should read other, opposing views. Too many lives and too many jobs are at stake.
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Nancy A.Bekofske
5.0 out of 5 stars
What A Frightening Roller Coaster Ride
Reviewed in the United States on October 1, 2019
I thought I should read Blowout by Rachel Maddow. Should being the giveaway word to my motivation. Instead of a dose of medicine that''s good for me but hard to swallow, it was a terrifying funhouse ride that totally engaged my attention! Maddow weaves together a narrative... See more
I thought I should read Blowout by Rachel Maddow. Should being the giveaway word to my motivation. Instead of a dose of medicine that''s good for me but hard to swallow, it was a terrifying funhouse ride that totally engaged my attention! Maddow weaves together a narrative of how we ''got to here'' that illumines the present.

Maddow lays out the oil industry''s history from Standard Oil to fracking to Putin''s dream of Russia becoming the world''s fuel provider to trolls on Facebook disseminating discord.

The oil industry has always been too big and wealthy and powerful to control, starting with John D. Rockefeller''s Standard Oil which drove out or took over the competition. The values have not changed; anything goes in the pursuit of increased production and mindboggling wealth. And power. Don''t forget the obscene power.

The oil industry has always looked for better ways to get to the oil, using nuclear bombs and ocean drilling and fracking. Sure, messes happen. The best clean up tool they have developed is a big stick of paper towels.

Fracking was going to save the day! Years worth of ''clean'' gas. So what if Oklahoma suffered 900 earthquakes in 2017?

I didn''t know how Putin had gambled everything on the fossil fuel industry bringing Russia money and power across the globe. But they needed the technology to make it happen. And Rex Tillerson and Exxon/Mobile were planning to help him. Those pesky sanctions got in their way.

Business and capitalism is amoral; politics and justice and fairness are irrelevant. The prime directive is making money. You lobby for the best tax deals, pay workers the lowest wages possible, make deals with the Devil--if you are killing people, or the entire planet, cover it up and carry on making the big bucks.

The damage fossil fuels are doing to the planet is happening NOW, has been happening for a long time before we wised up to it. It isn''t just when we take a jet or when we eat a half-pound burger or drive the kids to school. Getting that gas out of the ground it escapes. Lots of it. From the get-go, fossil fuels damage our world.

Maddow writes, Coal is done, and so is gas and oil but they don''t know it yet.

Oh, the last desperate gasps of the old world struggling to hold on.

I was given a free ebook by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
263 people found this helpful
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Random Dude
1.0 out of 5 stars
Straight up leftist propaganda
Reviewed in the United States on October 2, 2019
Propaganda, garbage and half truths. Don''t waste your money.
223 people found this helpful
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Sergio Carlo
5.0 out of 5 stars
You never disappoint.
Reviewed in the United States on October 1, 2019
Hey Rachel ! My wife and I are coming to see you in Atlanta. I’m starting the book today... but, you never disappoint!! Hope to give you a hug.
188 people found this helpful
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Fernando
1.0 out of 5 stars
NOT WORTH MY MONEY OR TIME
Reviewed in the United States on October 2, 2019
TIME WASTED THAT I WILL NEVER GET BACK. UGH. I WENT INTO THIS WITH AN OPEN MIND, BUT THE HERESAY AND BIAS IN THIS BOOK IS OVERWHELMING IN MY OPINION.
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Top reviews from other countries

S. Langridge
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Witty but very informative
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 14, 2019
This is a very interesting and very well written history of the oil and gas sector with an American focus and keen eye on how the sector has developed in Russia. I follow the news closely each day, but I still learned a lot about even quite recent events. If you are...See more
This is a very interesting and very well written history of the oil and gas sector with an American focus and keen eye on how the sector has developed in Russia. I follow the news closely each day, but I still learned a lot about even quite recent events. If you are interested in learning more about the oil and gas sector, climate change or corruption around the world, this should be an interestin read.
5 people found this helpful
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Luke software developer
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Readable. Clearly demonstrates corruption in the US, Russia and oil industry
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 6, 2019
A good book but seems to be made up of chunks I assume she covered on her TV show. The section on Oklahoma and the attempt to rely on lightly regulated capitalism is a fascinating case study in US corruption and failure. For the corruption in Russia it is worth reading Red...See more
A good book but seems to be made up of chunks I assume she covered on her TV show. The section on Oklahoma and the attempt to rely on lightly regulated capitalism is a fascinating case study in US corruption and failure. For the corruption in Russia it is worth reading Red Notice which is better. The long history of oil industry lobbying is instructive. It is cheaper for Exxon to finance a few politicians and lobby groups than clean up their industry. Says it all.
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sean s.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The rogue state Russia - fossil fuels industrial complex
Reviewed in Canada on October 6, 2019
Rachel Maddow is a journalist and a New York Times bestselling author. She has an undergrad degree in public policy from Stanford University, and a PhD in political science from Oxford. Whereas in the past there was talk of a ‘military-industrial complex’, Maddow describes...See more
Rachel Maddow is a journalist and a New York Times bestselling author. She has an undergrad degree in public policy from Stanford University, and a PhD in political science from Oxford. Whereas in the past there was talk of a ‘military-industrial complex’, Maddow describes the current ‘rogue state Russia-fossil fuels industrial complex.’ She writes: ‘The dark, heavy drapes were pulled tight on the windows day and night, so 55 Savushkina in St. Petersburg, Russia, was a mystery even to people who lived and worked in the neighborhood. There were suspicions that the Internet Research Agency was a seven-day-a-week, round-the-clock operation, but outsiders didn’t know the half of it. There were only a few minutes a day when the hundreds of laptops in the warren of offices were idle. You could see small contingents of twentysomethings streaming in and out of the building, ‘They’re so cool, like they’re from New York,’ one observer said. ‘Very hip clothing, very hip tattoos.’ But this was no Silicon Valley start-up. ‘Humourless and draconian’ was how a reporter from The Guardian described the outfit in a long investigative piece early in 2015. The Internet Research Agency was engaged in constant, rapid-response-driven information warfare. The folks on the social media teams were expected to produce five political posts, ten non-political posts, and more than 150 comments every two days. The topics and tenor of the political content were decided at the top, every day. Their belief: ‘one hundred repetitions make one truth. The defenders of the truth can be overwhelmed by repeated lies.’ No lie was too outlandish, as long as it could at least plausibly confuse the real news. The United States was the key and crucial target. Putin’s Kremlin was committed to the mission of mucking with American democracy in general, and the 2016 election in particular… The savvy well-paid kids at the Internet Research Agency had to know how to use stolen identities to set up fake American-sounding accounts on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. They had to study up on information provided by fellow agents recently returned from intelligence- and contacts-gathering trips in the US. They had to know where the most damage could be done. They had to get up to speed on American culture and politics, and specifically the most contentious and divisive issues of the day – immigration, gun laws, race, the Confederate flag. ‘At first we were forced to watch ‘House of Cards’ in English,’ said one of the trolls who worked at the IRA in 2015. ‘It was necessary to know all the main problems of the United States of America. Tax problems, the problem of gays, sexual minorities, weapons. Our goal wasn’t to turn Americans toward Russia. Our goal was to set Americans against their own government. To provoke unrest, provoke dissatisfaction.’ (cf. The Disinformation Report from New Knowledge; The IRA, Social Media and Political Polarization in the United States, by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project; and the Netflix film The Great Hack). Putin’s Internet Research Agency was successful beyond its wildest dreams when their preferred candidate Trump actually won the American election. However, dissatisfaction is now brewing in Russia, and, objectively speaking, Russians have a lot more reasons to be unhappy with their own government than Americans have with theirs. In 1991, the Soviet Union, dominated by Russia, was the #2 economy in the world. Today, on the other hand, the top 10 economies in the world are: 1. United States 2. China 3. Japan 4. Germany 5. India 6. UK 7. France 8. Italy 9. Brazil 10. Canada. Russia is not even in the top 10, and accounts for less than 2% of world GDP. How could the #2 economy in the world fall so far, so fast? Where did all the money go? CNN suggests that although Jeff Bezos is now at the top of Forbes’ list of billionaires, in fact Vladimir Putin is now the richest person on Earth, with a fortune estimated at $200 billion (How Rich is Vladimir Putin?, CNN, March 14, 2018). When the Soviet Union collapsed, the money did not vanish, but was rather secreted in accounts and assets of Putin and Russian oligarchs around the world. (cf. ''Read The Full Russia Oligarch List released by the US Treasury'' on CNBC). Some people were surprised when Putin publicly criticized climate change activist Greta Thunberg, but it was to be expected, as Maddow explains that Putin has put all of Russia’s eggs in the fossil fuels basket: ‘When Vladimir Putin first became president of the Russian Federation, it still had the makings of a potential superpower rival. It had the most impressive reserves of the most prized commodities on earth – oil and natural gas. It was the sort of inheritance that, husbanded wisely and well, could have funded a border-to-border Russian revival: education, infrastructure, health services, even fair elections. Could have financed new industry and technological advances. Could have provided a rich and loamy bed in which a modern republic capable of serving the general welfare of the Russian people would grow. Russia had the wherewithal to remake itself, again, into one of the most influential and powerful nations on the planet. A free, first-world Russia. Putin opted for a shorter and easier path. His most fateful decision for his country was that oil and gas wouldn’t just be the profitable crown jewel in Russia’s diversified economic array; it would be Russia’s everything. And Putin would exercise almost complete control over it, and use it in whatever way he saw fit…’ ‘The country has eroded into a stultifying economic sinkhole for average Russians. Despite receiving $1.6 trillion from oil and gas exports from 2000 to 2011, Russia was not able to build a single multi-lane highway during this time. Young Russians have nowhere to go, nothing to do, and nothing to hope for. The lack of adequate medical care produces five times more deaths from cardiovascular disease among women in Russia than in Europe. For Russian men the situation is even grimmer. Poor workplace and road safety standards, plus high rates of suicide and homicide combine with the negative effects of high alcohol consumption to make life especially precarious. According to the World Health Organization, the life expectancy of a fifteen-year-old male is three years lower in Russia than in Haiti…’ The good news is that opponents to Putin’s oligarchy are finally emerging in Russia, notably Konstantin Kotov, Lyubov Sobol, Ilya Yashin and Yegor Zhukov. And the world is coming to the realization that we have to wean ourselves from fossil fuels sooner rather than later (cf. David Wallace-Wells ‘Uninhabitable Earth - Life After Warming’; and Stanford professor Mark Jacobson’s ‘100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything’, available online). Many of the facts in this book about the fossil fuels industry have been recounted elsewhere (e.g. Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything), as well as much of the information about rogue state Russia (e.g. Malcolm Nance’s The Plot to Destroy Democracy). Maddow’s contribution in Blowout is to demonstrate that these two challenges are closely interrelated, and are in fact one, and this is the challenge of our era.
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MALCOLM BLACKMOOR
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
OIL, GAS, PUTIN & TRUMP
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 19, 2019
The history of oil and gas exploration has always been deeply ingrained in politics and conservation as extracting oil and gas is exactly at odds with care for the environment. Rachel Maddow, who has her own programme on MSNBC five evening a week, is a matchless explainer...See more
The history of oil and gas exploration has always been deeply ingrained in politics and conservation as extracting oil and gas is exactly at odds with care for the environment. Rachel Maddow, who has her own programme on MSNBC five evening a week, is a matchless explainer of complex stories, pointing out the links along the torturous chains of greed and corruption. This is an essential book of illumination and warning and is at the absolute heart of the reasons Trump is beholden to Russia.
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The subtitle doesn''t exaggerate.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 14, 2019
Rachael Maddow''s investigation into Vladimir Putin''s motives for inflicting Donald J. Trump on an unsuspecting America and awestruck world, almost incidentally uncovers what we sort of suspected. The Oil Industry does what it pleases, where it pleases and when it pleases,...See more
Rachael Maddow''s investigation into Vladimir Putin''s motives for inflicting Donald J. Trump on an unsuspecting America and awestruck world, almost incidentally uncovers what we sort of suspected. The Oil Industry does what it pleases, where it pleases and when it pleases, with absolutely zero regard for who it hurts and how much damage it does to the planet. Just as long as the shareholders do okay. If it wasn''t so interesting and easy to read, this book would be depressing.
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