Yergin writes for nontechnical readers, and this engaging book is easy, even fun, to read. It addresses not only the full spectrum of energy sources, from coal to photovoltaic cells, but also the rich history and politics of the industry. The book contains many colorful anecdotes involving figures who shaped the energy business and influenced how the public understands energy, including Svante Arrhenius, who in 1894 became the first to conjecture that there was a relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide and the earth’s temperature but, as a Swede who had lived through cold Nordic winters, welcomed the prospect of global warming as people burned more coal. The book is perhaps most illuminating when Yergin narrates major historical events, including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, from the perspective of the oil industry.
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