OIL AND HONEY by Bill McKibben


The Education of an Unlikely Activist
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From the founder of the environmental organization 350.org, a chatty, warm memoir of his double life as globe-trotting activist and part-time novice beekeeper.

For the past couple of years, McKibben (Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, 2010, etc.) has juggled two careers: organizing campaigns to halt the degradation of the planet and working with Kirk Webster, a beekeeper whose farm in the Champlain Valley of Vermont the author helped finance. Fighting the Keystone XL pipeline has been a top priority, and the author writes with humor of the three days he spent in jail in Washington, D.C., as the leader of a major demonstration against it. He also writes from the heart about the disastrous recent floods that struck his beloved Vermont and New York City, giving the country a look at the increasing devastation of climate change. McKibben, who asserts that the fossil fuel industry is poisoning the planet and that its donations have turned one of our political parties into climate deniers and the other into cowards, advocates that what has been a political fight must now take a new economic direction: divestment in these companies. In the latter part of the book, the author focuses on his efforts to take this message to colleges across the country, whose portfolios have large investments in the fossil fuel industry. McKibben intersperses his accounts of his intense and wide-ranging efforts as an environmental activist with his sometimes-humbling experiences as a novice beekeeper, learning from Webster the art and science of raising bees and making honey. The author’s clear message: Hard work is required on both the local level and the larger scale if the fight to protect our planet is not to be lost.

A personal, enjoyably rancor-free account, filled with praise for his colleagues and some pokes at opponents but void of harangues.

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9284-4
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2013


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