Blowout by Rachel Maddow

One of the most impressive parts of Rachel Maddow’s book Blowout is the end. No, not the index, but the twenty pages of “Notes on Sources.” I had often found myself thinking as I read the text, “How could she possibly know this level of detail?” but I know that Rachel Maddow and her staff are very dedicated to research and accuracy, so I didn’t doubt the veracity of the stories she was relating. I was pleased to see the “Notes on Sources” because she lists the books, papers, interviews, news stories, videos, magazines, etc. that she had used to find the facts, giving readers a chance to learn more and showing that she and her staff had, indeed, been diligent in their research.

The full title of the book is Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth. That industry is, of course, the oil and gas industry.

Because of my many years in the anti-fracking and climate justice movements, I was familiar with the broad outlines of much of the oil and gas industry story. I appreciated the abundance of details on topics such as Oklahoma, the depths to which it rises or falls on fossil fuel dollars, earthquakes and induced seismicity, and the rise of Oklahoma City, including its entance into the world of big-league sports. I knew that Russia used its fossil fuel exports as a cudgel and that Putin and his oligarchs ran roughshod over whomever stood in their way, but hadn’t realized all the factors involved, including the immensity of the impact of US sanctions that stopped Rex Tillerson’s ExxonMobil from assisting Russian Arctic drilling and spearheaded Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

I was less familiar with the expressions of the “resource curse” in other parts of the world, such as Equatorial Guinea. These stories illustrate how the proceeds of the oil and gas industry flow to the already powerful leaders of government and industry and not to the general populations of the countries, who often remain mired in poverty and ecological devastation.

While I brought a considerable amount of personal background/geekery to my reading, the book is equally as enjoyable and informative for those who know little of the industry. Maddow’s writing is clear and compelling. Much of the book reads like literature, with compelling, recurring characters, rich details, and unexpected plot twists. That the stories are all true heightens their impact.

That we are continuing to deal with the repercussions of the events in this book makes reading it that much more important.
*****
Please join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! Find out more here:  https://lindaghill.com/2020/01/06/daily-prompt-jusjojan-the-6th-2020/

Author: Joanne Corey

Please come visit my eclectic blog, Top of JC's Mind. You can never be sure what you'll find!

3 thoughts on “Blowout by Rachel Maddow”

  1. I worked on an oil rig as a geologist in east Texas. One of the most descriptive items on the rig is the blowout preventer. I wonder if that’s the source of her title. . .

    When I got to my on-the-job assignment a week after classroom training, the guy who was supposed to train me onsite, looked at me and said “You look smart, you’ll figure it out. I’m going in the back to get drunk.” . . .

    Leaving me alone with my week of notes and the Blowout Preventer.

    I am no longer in the oil biz but the waste was incredible. They flew all 20 of us new trainees to Houston from Dallas for our well-sitting assignments. Then, and only then, the planner looked at a map and realized that my assignment in Tyler, TX, was actually closer to Dallas so I was flown back to Dallas to drive to Tyler. It was a completely unneccessary trip.

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    1. Yes, Steph, the title does come from that kind of blowout. The fossil fuel industry has both made a small number of people incredibly rich and caused so much destruction.

      I’m happy to see you here. It just occurred to me that I haven’t gotten an email of your blogposts for a long time…

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