September 8, 2011
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - The Quest
The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin, The Penguin Press, 816 Pages, $37.95, Hardcover, September 2011, ISBN 9781594202834
For almost thirty years, I have made a living telling people about business books that are important. There are nearly 11,000 business books published each year, so this job requires me to make quick judgments based on those years of experience. Because of the number of books that cross my desk, I really gravitate to shorter books. So it is extraordinary for me to read—no, devour—a 700+ page book cover to cover. The book is The Quest; Energy, Security, and the remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin, and it is a masterpiece.
Ten years ago, the author wrote a book called The Prize, a Pulitzer Prize winner that told the history of oil. In The Quest, he uses a wider lens to capture the larger energy picture: oil as well as coal, nuclear, and natural gas used to generate electricity, drive our cars and heat our homes. This book takes the reader through the early part of the 20th century when gas was cheap, through the creation of OPEC and the oil embargo of the ‘70s, and then into this century with the Gulf war and the nightmare of the Japanese nuclear disaster. He also digs into the other sources of energy—solar, wind, biofuels—which aren’t exactly new, but being revalued by investors and consumers alike.
Yergin has a real talent for explaining complicated issues with great story telling. For example, his two-page explanation of the evolution of climate change becoming a cultural divider and a universal concern is read-out-loud brilliant and easy to understand. From the Caspian Sea to China, Africa to Hugo Chavez and Venezuela’s oil production, Yergin shows us the interconnectivity of the world, giving it life and context. This book will help you to understand some of the complex issues regarding energy that we will need to deal with globally, and will keep you thoroughly entertained along the way.