Cover Image: Superman's Not Coming

Superman's Not Coming

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Another poignant and epic piece from Erin Brockovich. I really don’t usually read non-fiction but for her I make an exception. Thought-provoking points, with supported scientific references. Brilliant.
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This is an eye opening warning of a book with empowering advice from a trusted activist. It's not easy to look at but it's vital.
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This book was revelatory, troubling, insightful, and inspiring all at the same time. Erin Brockovich outlines the major problems with water quality in the United States, which is grim and unsettling. It's truly upsetting what large corporations have done to effect water quality, and how few regulatory measures are in place, or can be enforced, to protect our water. Even though Brockovich shares this grim reality, she also underscores the role and importance of grassroots organizing, activism, and involvement. Brockovich is aware that advocating for better water quality can seem like an uphill battle, and she shares how, step-by-step, people can successfully advocate on behalf of their communities. This was a captivating read and is suited to anyone who cares about the environment, holding corporations and the government to account, and community activism.
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This is a important book on a crisis that has continued to grow despite efforts of activists like Brockovich.

Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.
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Erin Brockovich with Suzanne Boothby, Superman’s Not Coming Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It, Pantheon Books 2021

Thank you NetGalley for this uncorrected proof for review. 

I saw the film, Erin Brockovich, while travelling. Amazingly I was the only person in the Seattle cinema, a positive for me, and the film’s popularity overall suggests that the lack of an audience on that occasion was not a problem for the film. Alone, I was able to fully immerse myself in the fight for the people of Hinkley. Immediately upon returning to my hotel I emailed my daughters, encouraging them to see the film. Now, having read Erin Brockovich and Suzanne Boothby’s book, which investigates the water crisis in America more generally, I am using this review to encourage people to follow Brockovich’s journeys, not only fighting on people’s behalf, but providing them with the tools and encouragement to act for themselves. 

Superman’s Not Coming is an image that pervades the book. The role of local action to achieve, at times amazing outcomes, at others a slow burn towards some limited success, is the theme with which Brockovich encourages the people on whose behalf she works.  Superman is not coming - so what do people whose water runs brown, yellow or green; not at all; full of lead or other chemicals or poisons; with warnings not to drink it, do? According to this book, they act. 

The book comprises case studies; action plans; mathematical information; stories about political meetings and the disappointments or sometime success of these. It is divided into three parts: The Scary Truth; The Hopeful Future; and The final Call. There is an appendix of resources, detailed endnotes, and an impressive index. Everything that the academic reader would want. But the non-academic, the person who just wants to know more, is also well served. For example, Brockovich explains the math so that those so inclined can deduct mathematically the seriousness of the level of additives in the water. I do not deal happily with numbers but was able to find enough convincing information in the professionally written material alongside the detailed math. The writing is professional in that the case Brockovich is making is compelling, but accessible to readers from a wide range of backgrounds. The book is written to help people like those of Hinkley, and later, Flint, to name the two well-known cases, address the issues from a source of information that makes clear, utter sense. Accessible writing is a somewhat well-worn phrase, but it needs to be used once again for the material assembled in this book. 

Do you have to believe everything Brockovich writes about? Is she coercing the reader? Is it likely that the reader will be forced into accepting a fearful future upon reading the information made available here? My reading is that this is a transcript of hope. It is an argument that governments and businesses can do better, indeed, must do better, and that individuals can do a great deal to ensure that this happens. This is not to say that the pictures outlined in the case studies are anything short of devastating and that any improvements will not change past and present grief about health, physical and mental, that need never have been damaged. Believing Brockovich can be easy, but she does not ask for belief based on emotion. Again, the case studies are distressing, but they are only the beginning of the arguments made for pursuing liability and change. 

On the government level, perhaps there will be a positive outcome from the Biden Infrastructure Plan, in which lead pipes are to be replaced – the problem with lead piping is an issue taken up in detail in the book. On the local level, the action plans outlined at the end of the chapters may be used by more individuals and groups to empower themselves. 

I found this an inspiring read, although my faith in governments of good intention to make changes is stronger than Erin Brockovich’s. On the other hand, that disagreement does not matter. As I read the arguments, I found it easy to think about them without feeling pushed or baffled by numbers, emotion, vituperation, or despair. This is an excellent read for both academic and casual readers who want to know more.
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I would like to express my deepest thanks to Erin Brockovich and to the publisher. This is a critically important body of work that every American must read. I had been following the author's work after the PGE suit and am thankful that she continues this passionate  fight for Americans to be knowledgeable about what is in our water systems across the country.  After carefully reading through this book and making my own notes I began to contact my local water boards and found much secrecy among the employees. This was suspicious so I continued my research and will  do so with the help of this informative book.  I have never drank tap water as where I grew up in Southern California even the water company would recommend not drinking from the tap. Still we cooked and bathed in it and drank from contaminated water at our schools creating many illnesses  among residents that have been ignored for decades by local governments.  Our parents used tap water and I believe this is the cause of many cancers today in seniors .  It is a broad issue one that we must take responsibility for educating ourselves about in order to take action. 

 This book references the science behind the chemicals especially Chromium 6 which is know to cause many cancers and illnesses as featured in her movie. This is put in terms any reader can easily understand. so do not allow the science to deter you from continuing to study .   She writes of the horrific pollution of our land and water and of the actions we must take as a populace to demand clean water from our government and stop corporate pollution of American waterways. What will shock you to your core is the amount of chemicals that are put in our waters and how local, state and federal governments refuse to take action. We can only change this inaction by being our own advocates as the author writes of so brilliantly here. 

  I am so impressed by the author's effort in this exceptional book that  educates us as well as gives us the tools we need to advocate for our own clean water .  A exemplary body of work that I highly recommend.  Very well done to the author.
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Yes, this book was written by THAT Erin Brokovich. Since the eponymous movie in the 90s, Brokovich has worked tirelessly as an advocate for citizens, clean water, and necessary environmental regulations. 'Superman's Not Coming' goes over common water issues currently faced by millions of Americans. She includes understandable science about the chemicals, pollution, infrastructure, and policies that contribute to water toxicity. Most importantly, she details resources and clear action steps that citizens can take to improve their drinking water. Brokovich writes in such a passionate and empowering manner, so this was a really motivating read. 

Thank you Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group/Pantheon Books and NetGalley for providing this ARC.
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Erin Brockovich warns us that we the people are the only ones who can save us. Grass roots efforts by moms have stood up to power to save their children. Lois Gibbs, the Love Canal mom, and Leeann Walters of Flint, Michigan are two of the most recognized Water Warriors. For change to happen, more ordinary people need to become involved. 

Superman's Not Coming describes the problem of providing clean water under a dysfunctional EPA and climate change. Brockovich also offers resources to empower Water Warrior wannabes.

I have spent a good deal of my life a few hours drive (or less) from one of the Great Lakes, the largest freshwater source in the world. I grew up boating on the Niagara River, and later vacationed at Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and Lake Huron. 

I also remember in the 1970s seeing yellow foam at the base of Niagara Falls, reading about how algae blooms poisoned Toledo's water, Love Canal and the Flint Water Crisis. I have lived near lakes made toxic by industrial waste. 

Across the country, Americans--today--discover their water isn't safe to drink. They endure limits on water use because it is in short supply. 

It's only going to get worse as temperatures rise.

Brockovich presents her information and argument with passion. The book is upsetting but it is also empowering. If we have the will, we can create change. It starts with people like us. 

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
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As soon as I saw THE Erin Brokovich has a book, I immediately requested it. Because of the movie where Julia Robert portrayed her, everyone knows she fought for the everyday person's right to drink clean water and that she met battled against corporate greed. I was a fan of Erin Brokovich ever since and have been trying to learn more about her work ever since the movie. Definitely a girl crush on her!

This book highlights that everyone in the world and in the US has the right to clean drinking water, and low-income areas like Flint and .Hinkley have suffered because of corporate greed need for survival. They don't want to look like the bad guy. It is not just a problem in the US but a global catastrophe of epic proportion if the world's water supply is contaminated from pollution and global warming. She highlights 6 toxins that can be found in most water supplies and what happens to humans physically as well as the environmental impact.

The point: You have to do your part to speak out against this. She leaves links and addresses to contact water boards both state and federal. You have to want to make the change because Superman is not going to do it. 

I was fascinated by most of this even if I didn't understand some parts. I had to read a book by the real Erin Brockovich. Better than I thought it was going to be and a must read for those interested in climatology.

I hope she continues her advocacy and the next generation gets involved because of her.

Thanks to Netgalley, Erin Brockovich and Knopf Double Publishing Group Panatheon division for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Available: 8/25/20
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Superman's Not Coming by Erin Brockovich plays off of the idea that American citizen cannot wait for a superhero to save them when it comes to the crisis with our drinking water. With the non-potable water in Flint and other low-income areas, access to clean water is a civil rights issue. I taught in Baton Rouge, LA, which is in the heart of Cancer Alley, based on run-off from chemical plants. It is absolutely accurate that as a nation, the US allows for domestic terrorism to continue in our communities, as long as it is done my the military and big business. 

What I found appealing about this book is that it doesn't leave the reader hopeless, Brockovich shares with readers ways in which individuals can be advocates for environmental justice in their communities. 

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for providing me with a copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.
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Superman's Not Coming is an eye-opening read about poor water quality in the US. Erin Brokovich details chemicals that can make drinking water harmful, gives us examples of how to test or find out test results on our own, shows us how and why we should ask questions about the safety of our water, and gives us the tools to make change happen.

I was really interested in the science of the book. There are so many chemicals that are known to cause harm and yet they are still present without informing people and their communities. Erin wrote this book in a way that allows readers to understand the problem, what causes it, and how to take steps to fix it.

The fact that so many who are in charge and know about these issues do nothing to fix the problem is shocking to say the least. I felt educated and empowered after reading this book. Erin reminds us that we should be concerned about things like water because if not us then who. She gives us the tools and resources to get things done. I really liked that she detailed her own experiences to show how speaking up or writing a petition can be the perfect start if we really want to make a difference. 

I give Superman's Not Coming 4 stars. It is an educational and empowering read that so many can benefit from. If anything, Erin motivates readers to take action and question things like water quality because if we don't we can't expect someone else to care. I learned so much about chemicals that can be harmful, how to get in contact with the necessary people, and how to have enough confidence to make a difference.
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I received this book to review prior to publication; the version I received was an uncorrected proof. 

Erin Brockovich. Everyone knows the name. Erin is a legend and a force of nature when it comes to fighting for clean water, and that carries over into this most recent work, “Superman’s Not Coming.”  Written by someone who has gotten her hands dirty trying to clean up corporations’ messes, Erin is an expert when it comes to water, how it gets contaminated, what it’s contaminated by, who is contaminating it, and how close we are to the brink of losing our entire water supply due to contamination and climate change.  

Erin begins by explaining the laws and agencies that govern water in the United States. She walks us through multiple examples of towns she has had contact with and their water issues. Hinkley, of course, but there is also Poughkeepsie and Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps Base in North Carolina, among many, many others. The book further explains the six top toxins in water and the horrific environmental and physical effects these toxins can have, such as cancer.  Erin explains that the only way that water cleanliness changes in communities is by civilian action. In this book, Erin not only gives you the facts and what to look out for, but she also gives you the tools to lead your own active fight against water pollution and poisonous water “cleaning” systems in your own community.  

Chock-full of resources on community activism and what you can do if you spot the signs of water contamination in your town, this work is a resource and a primer on water in the US.  However, I do feel that it is a bit long. There is quite a bit of repetition in this work, and I felt my eyes glazing over more than a few times due to long explanations. I think maybe a bit of restructuring would be helpful. However, the last few chapters, as well as the chapter on toxins, are wonderfully helpful when it comes to the mission of this work.  Rated 3.5 stars, but will convert that up to 4 with the hopes that there will be some major edits before publication.
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Two thirds of Americans drink water contaminated by chromium-6, a highly toxic chemical that was the subject of Erin Brockovich, the film starring Julia Roberts that caused outrage 20 years ago. But Erin Brockovich herself claims in her new book Superman’s Not Coming that the movie ended far better than the reality. The water in Hinkley CA is still poison, and thousands of towns and cities across the country are similarly laced with the same chemical, and many others.

Brockovich cites a child who was shocked to see someone in a film drinking tapwater from the kitchen sink. She had grown up knowing with total certainty that kitchen sink water should never be consumed, and had never in her life seen anyone do it before. This sad state of affairs is the scandalous truth for 220 million Americans. Birth defects, brain defects, autoimmune diseases and particularly numerous kinds of unusual cancers result from drinking tapwater in the USA. Sometimes just showering is enough to cause skin rashes and other conditions.

Brockovich says if COVID19 could survive in water, the whole country would be using only bottled water. Yet, despite 2/3 of drinking water being contaminated with chromium-6, a long-known poison and carcinogen, Americans act as if nothing were wrong. There is no scandal, no jail sentences, no takeovers of water authorities.

She points out that there are still six million lead service lines providing water to households. And this same chromium-6, among others, causes the lead to leach into the water, adding lead poisoning to the list of illnesses at no extra cost. (Chromium-6 is a rust inhibitor, meant to save pipes, not people.) To save money, many jurisdictions pour ammonia into the water supply to help purify it, causing even more illness. Endless creativity, and no accountability keep American citizens guessing why their families are ravaged by cancers when they’ve had no prior history of it. Even the UN has had to admit 75% of cancers are environmental, not genetic. We do it to ourselves. Or rather, our companies do it to us.

The victims often come to realize their situation purely by accident. Brockovich tells of high school students who discovered several hundred of them secretly all had cancer. Teenagers.With cancer.  What they had in common was simply drinking the water, which proved carcinogenic.

Brockovich has made her life in this miasma. She gets thousands of emails asking for help. She plots the complaints on a website and maps ( She is the road warrior supreme, constantly visiting sites, challenging authorities and helping organize the victims to help themselves. And testing water.

She has watched countless local water authorities denigrate taxpayers who dare challenge them, by asking if they have degrees in chemical engineering. When they take positions like that, Brockovich knows they are actively hiding the truth. Why aren’t they co-operative and collaborative? They are supposed to be the good guys, so why do they deflect, obfuscate and deny? She says advocates should turn the tables, and demand to see peer-reviewed studies that show the water is actually safe.

Killer water is an American tradition. The biggest single polluter in the world is the US military. The toxic mess it poisons its own soldiers with is scandal enough, but the mess it leaves behind when it moves out poisons unwary citizens for decades more. And it never gives it a second thought. The military gets its own chapter in the book, with stories of retired soldiers coming back to fight it for future generations.

How is it that the water authorities of the United States find it their job to hide the toxicity of the water it is their job to provide? Same goes for mayors, and in cases like Flint, Michigan, even the governor. They all take the position the yellow, brown or green water is perfectly safe, and drink a glass to “prove” it. It is always an absurd scene, flying in the face of a clearly provable truth. They all immediately become defensive, and fight off the intrusion of lab reports, unprecedented sickness, and worried taxpayers. It is them against their customers. How bizarre.

As I read, the overriding question identified itself: Why are firms even allowed to pollute the groundwater? How is it they get to dump endless tons of chemicals in the water and on the land without permission, inspection, or even a second thought? The local municipality itself should prevent this, but no. Even after Love Canal and Hinkley, there is nothing to stop the madness, which has only become demonstrably worse. Companies will get away with anything they can. Morality plays no role in American society. Only profit counts.

A lot of it has to do with the dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency. Constant whittling down of the staff has left it unable to verify pretty much anything any more. The Trump rollback of water quality laws and rules means the EPA won’t be around to help. Meanwhile, Americans die. As in so many other domains, there are sufficient laws on the books to deal with or even prevent this from happening. But government refuses to fund the agencies needed to keep the country honest. Or safe.Or legal.

One scientist Brockovich cites has shown that spending on cleaning up a water system brings a thousand times the benefit in dollars saved or generated through medical, productivity and growth improvements. Yet government fights its own citizens at every turn, wasting taxpayer money, killing more people and temporarily delaying the inevitable discovery and correction. It is Swiftian in its stupidity.

Back in Hinkley, the utility PG&E now says it has passed the halfway point in its cleanup, 20 years later. But the town is a shell. It has lost its school and its post office. The remaining residents drive 30 miles to purchase water. And PG&E is still out there trying to buy up every home to lessen the complaints. It is far from a happy Hollywood ending. 

Brockovich wants readers to know a couple of things. First, everyone and anyone can do what she does, no training or degrees necessary. She says she herself “was a broke single mom with dyslexia, trying to make ends meet” when she stumbled onto the Hinkley disaster. And second, everyone must join in, because power is arrayed against them, and only popular efforts can succeed where mere laws are not enforced. It could be a Freedom of Information request for documents, suing, getting signatures for a ballot initiative, running for town council or escalating the issue to embarrassing levels. Anything and everything is on the table, and has worked somewhere already. But mostly, no one is going to do it for them: certainly not their elected representatives. And Erin Brockovich is just one person, where 220 million are needed for the job. Throughout the book, she continuously calls for readers to pick up the baton and run with it.

She says if a terrorist cell put poison in the water, the whole country would be up in arms, and it would be dealt with, quickly and harshly. But when PG&E, 3M, Tyson or an oil company does it, Americans let it go. Domestic terrorism is okay, it seems, because Americans let it be.

The book delves into numerous chemical compounds and what they do to people who drink water. Studies have shown some to be so toxic, the amounts allowed in the water are listed in parts per trillion. But water has been shown to contain ten thousand times as much as allowed. How much arsenic is it safe to drink? Daily?For decades?

She also examines fracking, and the famous secret 600 toxic chemicals no one is allowed to name by law, though they turn up in drinking water throughout the Midwest. In Pennsylvania, doctors are not allowed to claim illness has been caused by fracking – by law. But whole towns suddenly go sickly including pets, cattle and crops, when the frackers set up shop. (Where are all the conspiracy folks for this real, genuine conspiracy to poison everyone? Never mind the B-52 contrails. This is nationwide and fatal right now, and provably so.)

There should be some unique advantages to living in the richest country in the world, one where basic things like water are a given. Instead, Erin Brockovich has had to write a horrifying book detailing how much of a fight is necessary to avoid death by water.

David Wineberg
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It was so cool getting to read a book about THE Erin Brockovich, doing what she does best; advocate for safe health policy. 

I loved this book. Erin explains in-depth the health and safety issues around our drinking water and the often failed environmental regulations on behalf of both federal, state, and local government bodies. Despite being policy heavy, the book is easy and enjoyable to read. It's also an incredibly important issue for everyone and sheds light on the contaminants and testing issues that have caused the recent water crisis in Flint.
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