Inman provides enlightenment on a persistently intractable topic and praise for the scientist who clearly saw the...

THE ORACLE OF OIL

A MAVERICK GEOLOGIST'S QUEST FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

The career of a hero of hydrocarbon exploration reminds us that it’s a finite world after all.

The professional accomplishments of oil seer M. King Hubbert (1903-1989) are the subject of this assiduously researched book, which adds much to previous texts like Kenneth S. Deffeyes’ Hubbert’s Peak (2001). Journalist Inman begins when Hubbert was 19; his birth and hardscrabble childhood are largely irrelevant here. This biography is a character sketch within a lengthy professional CV, coupled with a narrative of big oil politics. Never “particularly good at working with anyone,” Hubbert was independent, self-assured, stubborn, and irascible. The sharp, self-made Texan became a petroleum geologist and eventually taught geophysics at Columbia University. The intellectual life of Greenwich Village was more to his liking, and he was an early organizer of the technocracy movement. Unhappy at Columbia, Hubbert took a government job in Washington, D.C., but, again unhappy, he left for Houston and a career at Shell Oil. By 1956, with clear, emphatic assurance, he warned that the world would eventually run out of oil. He demonstrated the inevitable with a bell curve graph that came to be known as “Hubbert’s Peak” (or “Hubbert’s Pimple”). According to his reckoning, we are on the cusp of the downward slope of the curve, the inevitable exhaustion of hydrocarbons and, probably, the decline of life as we know it. Unless new forms of ecologically friendly energy are developed promptly, it’s apocalypse soon. Against stiff industry opposition, Hubbert lectured and published frequently. After retiring from Shell in 1964, he rejoined the government, working as a geophysicist for the U.S. Geological Survey, followed by posts at Stanford and the University of California, still preaching the lesson of Hubbert’s Peak, now widely accepted as a standard.

Inman provides enlightenment on a persistently intractable topic and praise for the scientist who clearly saw the consequences of our reliance on oil.

Pub Date: April 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-393-23968-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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