Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

A depressing subject. These current books are becoming harder for me to stomach and bring on such gloom for me. But I've been listening/watching/reading Rachel since the Bush era. She as good still as she was then.
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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC of this book. 

Rachel Maddow does not disappoint. This book goes after the oil and gas industry. It goes into details about the industry going from fracking and how they do it and what it does to the political intrigue in both the US and Russia. Sometimes there are almost too many details that become tedious but I could not stop reading. Revelations that were, to me, amazing. Everyone should read this book.
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Blowout! :Corrupted Democracy, Rouge State Russia, and The Richest, Most Destructuve Industry on Earth
by Rachel Maddow
due 10-1-2019

#netgalley. #Blowout

What the Frack is going on with the oil and gas industry? How did we, as a Democratic country, get to this point? Regardless of age, sex, race, religion, political beliefs, etc., how did we become dependent on a global industry built on corruption, greed and incompetence? 
Rachel Maddow brings it all together and makes this complicated issue, easy to understand. She explains the power, complexities, and political gamesmanship behind fracking. How Yeltsin literally gave the Russisn Presidency to Putin, and how and why Putin used the oil industry to maintain his power, by sending the crude oil to its biggest oil rival, the USA.
From Oklahoma City to Russia to Siberia and Equatorial Guinea, we see how oil and the crude pollutants from fracking, made by unsafe drilling; an industry that has taken far more from the earth than it ever gave. ExxonMobil and Rex Tillerson are examples of the mindless incompetence that make full transparency necessary. We hold the responsibility of separating the corporate from the villains.

Aubrey's Chesapeake Energy-Oklahomas earthquake outbreak of 2010 due to fracking-the Alaskan drilling fiasco- the Winter Olympics at Sochi in 2014 and Pussy Riot- Guccifer. It's all here, and so essential to understanding exactly what is happening, and why.

One of the things I admire and live about Rachel Maddow is how she will lay a foundation by sharing the history and importance of issues, policies and subjects. By explaining both sides, we can decide for ourselves where we stand without being preached at and told what to believe. Her wit, candor, humility and her original spin, for me, make her a woman who uses her intelligence to make people aware, for the greater good. This book is an example of just that. 
I learned so much about the oil industry, the consequences of non transparency and the willingness to deceive to win. 
Mostly I learned we need to re-think the need vs. the greed of oil.
Thank you for this exceptional, necessary and timely book, Rachel.

Thank you to netgalley for sharing this requested e-book ARC for review.
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Before reading this book, the only time I gave oil and gas much thought was when 1) I needed to fill up my tank and wondered how much I could save on gas with my Smith’s card and 2) when there was an oil spill.

Blowout was a horrifying, intense, and enlightening book that kept me up at night reading. My mom asked me to tell her “ all the interesting parts” and I ended up telling her everything. Every part of this book is interesting and will make you think about the gas and oil industry. 

After reading , I was curious where the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates stand on this issue and was surprised how many are waiting to see which way the gas and oil winds blow. 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers granting me early access to such an important book written by one of my favorite reporters.
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This story of insatiable greed on the part of self-serving, uncaring people drunk on money and power demonstrates how the oil and gas industry fuels politics around the world, and plays a central role in the attempts by Vladimir Putin to sow discord in the West and control Washington.

Rachel Maddow, known from her news show on MSNBC, is more than a media pundit:  she received her undergraduate degree in public policy from Stanford and a doctorate in political science from Oxford University.  The information in her book is meticulously researched and documented.

She carefully weaves together connections between oil executives in the U.S. and oligarchs in Russia.  Putin has put all his eggs in one basket for the success of Russia:  oil and gas.  But his control of the industry is based on “graft, financial manipulation, and violence as needed,” rather than expertise, so he needs the West to achieve his aims.  Western companies - in particular, ExxonMobil - have been more than willing to ignore Russia’s autocratic policies in exchange for the opportunity to get in on the lucrative potential for developing its untapped resources.  And in fact, as Maddow points out, the oil companies share a number of traits with Putin, including a deep hatred for government regulation and a belief in the primacy of profits to the detriment of any deterrent, such as responsibility for wreaking “geopolitical and environmental havoc both at home and the world over.”

Maddow includes fascinating portraits of the people who run the energy businesses, and how they spend their vast fortunes.  What choices do you make, for example, when your net worth is $162 billion or more?  How much is necessary to make sure politicians vote your way?  (No matter how much you spend, it’s worth it to get tax write-offs and eliminate any requirements for transparency.  As Maddow notes, “U.S. taxpayer subsidies for oil and gas drilling are now almost literally insane,” and she gives numerous examples of how and why this is so.)  How many houses and yachts do you buy, and what consideration do you have for the many people who deal with the toxic waste poisoning the air, land, and water, and even massive numbers of earthquakes you have generated? (Spoiler alert: none) 

She also explains fracking, how and why fracking generates what has been called “earthquake swarms, and how it has put pressure on those in the energy industry to get on top of the curve.

Most importantly for American readers, Maddow shows what it actually meant to appoint the CEO of ExxonMobil to be Secretary of State; why the Russians were so eager to meet with, and offer support(both overt and covert) to the Trump campaign, and what it all had to do with oil and gas.  (Hint:  it’s all about removing the sanctionsthat impede further oil and gas exploration.)  Putin, a former KGB operative, is always looking for “useful idiots” to exploit.  The Trump campaign team offered plenty of them.  Even the Trump Tower Moscow project was adversely affected by the sanctions.  Maddow writes:  “Mueller assessed [it] could have been worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Trump” if only he could get those pesky sanctions lifted.  (Miraculously, sanctions have been - at least until now - protected by Congress, in spite of vigorous efforts of the Trump team to eliminate them.)

She also clarifies what Putin’s aggressive actions in Ukraine have to do with oil and gas - plenty, as it turns out, and how Putin managed to keep Europe and the United States mostly in check as he took what he wanted.  (It was a lot easier after the Russia-friendly Trump Administration came into power.)

Using data collected from the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Maddow delineates, in perhaps her scariest chapter, how techies at a Russian troll farm - the “Internet Research Agency” north of St. Petersburg - disseminated misinformation via fake accounts by people working in two separate twelve-hour shifts - around-the-clock information warfare.  As one adherent claimed (rightfully so, it must be said):  “One hundred repetitions make one truth.  The defenders of the truth can be overwhelmed by repeated lies.”  

Putin’s trolls were told to focus on the most contentious and divisive issues in America and fan the flames.  One of them later confessed:  “Our goal wasn’t to turn Americans toward Russia.  Our goal was to set Americans against their own government. To provoke unrest, provoke dissatisfaction.”  In short, to set up a situation in which millions of angry, disaffected people might vote for someone who wanted to tear the system down from the inside, rather than act as a moral exemplar for the rest of the world.  Analogous to the oil and gas industry, Maddow notes, Putin’s army of trolls “poured infectious waste” into the most ragged faults and fissures in Western democracy.

More tangibly, the Russians seeking to affect the 2016 election were aided by the oil and gas industry, which poured $152 million into the coffers of Republican candidates, compared to $21 million for Democrats.  When the Republicans won all three branches of government, they began to dismantle any legal protections for consumers against the industry.  They quickly repealed laws requiring clarification of payments by oil and gas companies to foreign governments and declarations as to actual tax payments and shelters.  They also engineered America’s withdrawal from international agreements on transparency.  Finally, they repealed as many Obama-era environmental protections as they could manage, a project that is ongoing.

What can we do?  Maddow posits:

“Containment is the small-c conservative answer to the problem at hand - democratically supported, government-enforced active and aggressive containment.  … Powerful enemies make for big, difficult fights.  But you can’t win if you don’t play, and in this fight it’s the stakes that should motivate us:  Democracy either wins this one or disappears.  It oughtta be a blowout.”

Evaluation:  I felt like I needed a shower after each chapter, reading about the greed and corruption that characterizes the oil and gas industry around the world, and how politicians have been bought off to protect the system.  But I think it is critical for Americans to understand not only how this industry has distorted the democratic process, but how the Russians have successfully roiled the waters in the West, and continue to do so.  If we don’t gain awareness and get inspired to take grassroots action to protect democracy, there may be nothing left to protect.
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Another fascinating and eye opening  read by my favorite anchor/reporter/ hero.  An important addition to her previous book this one focuses on the oil and gas industries.  Russia, Tillerson  Exon Mobil are all exposed and it’s a mouth gaping account of corporate greed, lies and how we need to act now, before it’s too late.
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If you love how Rachel weaves a story on her nightly show you will love Blowout.  She is the master of the written word as well as the narrative and the facts.  Couldn't put it down.
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Rachel Maddow has written a brillant eye opening book full of details important truths.A well researched book .#netgalley#crownboojs,
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If you are familiar with Maddow's podcast "Bag Man" about former vice president Spiro Agnew and like her sense of history and narrative style, I'd recommend this book. It gives some nice background into the personalities and organizations that are affecting the state of our union today.
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As with anything these days this novel is all about corporate and individual greed. The greed that warrants full power and full wealth under the disguise of saving others or helping the environment move towards the future goals.
From Oklahoma to NW Pennsylvania and beyond Rachel tackles the truth in a powerful and dynamic fashion that will leave no stone literally and figuratively not turned.
"Play on emotions; the bigger the lie, the better; lies should be reported many times."
These lies are what began the process especially with regard to hydraulic fracking in which it turned out many wondered if this fracking resulted in earthquakes such as in Oklahoma.
Two main players you'll find discussed often throughout this game play is Rex Tillerson of Exxon Mobile and Austin Holland of Oklahoma Geological Survey.
Accordingly hydraulic fracturing -breaking oil and gas out of shale rock- could cause earthquake in 1 out of every 10 fracked wells.
"For every 1 thousand wells in state and federal waters, there's an average of 20 uncontrolled releases or 'blowouts' every year."
Energy sources and renewable energy is what this discussion should be upon not becoming richer but sadly that's where the conversation has gone.
Heaven forbid the government also become involved and offer breaks or incentives for such advancements.
The oil and gas industry needs regulation, oversight, and transparency not self regulation.
We need to follow American interests and go through the proper channels designed to prevent such atrocities through the Committee on Foreign Investment.
Coal is dead. Oil and Gas is dead. Sadly the latter just doesn't look sick yet.
We cannot afford to continue the course by causing destruction to : Geological balance, governance, environmental injury and climate apocalypse.
Containment obviously is needed!
A fascinating read especially for me as I come from the Northeastern section of Pa near where the fracking debate continues with many friends having passed away because of it.
I hope we learn there is no immediate payment that could be fulfilled when we are literally killing humanity and our environment.
While the rich have may gotten richer it's at what costs that I need to remind you!
Please read, educate, and stop the hate....
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Maddow in her no-nonsense and super-smart style gives a micro history of the rise of the oil industry and oil dependency and it’s role in US/Russia relations and national competition. But, for me, too much information fired from all sides memes it’s a bit indigestible. And, while her style and tone denote urgency, it’s also anxiety producing without much in the solutions department.
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Blowout is a fabulous and engrossing book. Rachel Maddow has written a fantastic book. A must read for the year.
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Wow! Rachel Maddow opened my eyes yet again! Blowout stirred up so many emotions inside of me. This book is insightful, shocking, real, & will leave you demanding action. One of the best books I’ve read all year!
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