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Richard Rhodes

A Human History

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestselling author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb comes a rich history of energy transitions over time, with a look at the current challenges presented by global warming, a surging world population, and renewable energy. People have lived and died, businesses have prospered and failed, and nations rose to world power and declined, all over energy challenges. Ultimately, the history of these challenges tell the story of humanity itself.

Through an unforgettable cast of characters, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes explains how wood gave way to coal and coal made room for oil, as we now turn to natural gas, nuclear power, and renewable energy. Rhodes looks back on five centuries of progress, through such influential figures as Queen Elizabeth I, King James I, Benjamin Franklin, Herman Melville, John D. Rockefeller, and Henry Ford. Rhodes highlights the successes and failures that led to each breakthrough in energy production; from animal and waterpower to the steam engine, from internal-combustion to the electric motor. He also addresses how we learned from such challenges, mastered their transitions, and capitalized on their opportunities. The book then looks at the current energy landscape, with a focus on how wind energy is competing for dominance with cast supplies of coal and natural gas. He also addresses the specter of global warming, and a population hurtling towards ten billion by 2100.

Human beings have confronted the problem of how to draw life from raw material since the beginning of time. Each invention, each discovery, each adaptation brought further challenges, and through such transformations, we arrived at where we are today. In Rhodes's singular style, Energy details how this knowledge of our history can inform our way tomorrow.

Richard Rhodes is the bestselling author of THE MAKING OF THE ATOMIC BOMB which won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award. It was also a #1 New York Times bestseller and remains a classic book today.

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