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Feeding the Fire: The Lost History and Uncertain Future of Mankind's Energy Addiction Hardcover – 8 May 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 283 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (8 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307237443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307237446
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 794,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Black Sheep on 5 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book because it had good reviews on amazon.com, but was disappointed. Perhaps the analogies and simplified explanations of thermodynamics are useful to those unfamiliar with science, but I had hoped for more. From the title, I expected enlightening facts and scientific analysis, but instead mostly got a woolly metaphysical polemic, with the occasional morsel of useful information. The book shows some evidence of writing and presentation skills, but for me these could not compensate for the lack of substance.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A Journey Through Time and Space 14 Jun. 2007
By VideoCowboy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In a concise presentation that is both enlightening and entertaining, Eberhart ties together physics, biology, chemistry, thermodynamics and politics. Energy, according to Eberhart, is the sine qua non of our existence. Conservation of energy, a well-known scientific principle, is often not intuitively obvious, but the clarity of Eberhart's presentation and personal examples goes a long way toward making it so.

Feeding The Fire is not yet another lecture on how we should all use EnergyStar appliances and ride bicycles to work (despite the benefits that might derive from doing so). It is rather a concise history of energy in the universe as we know it, presented in a way that is both scientifically accurate and completely accessible to a lay reader. Without attempting to write a prescription for the future, it lays a groundwork of understanding that should be a pre-requisite for those who have (or will have) the responsibility of shaping energy policy. I recommend it as required reading for legislators, presidents, vice-presidents, historians and anyone who has the slightest interest in the survival of Earth beyond 2050.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A history of energy use - and depletion 5 Aug. 2007
By Alan Lekan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In the world of books on sustianability, global warming and peak oil, this one is a bit different. Its focus is on presenting the energy lessons of the past. Mr. Eberhart (a prof. of material science and chemistry) takes the reader through the early days of the rather inefficient hunter-gathers which evolved to argicultural-based societies that harnesses the outside energy of donkeys and horses to increase efficiency... then to the use of wood and wood charcoal which further freed up time for mankind to think more creatively ... then with the discovery of coal (and kerosene) which powered cities like London and early American villages ushering in the industrial era, steam engines and steel mills ... up till the big jackpot of the most energy-dense material discovered - oil - which has been a main reason for the innovations and wealth creation of developed nations like ours.

In each era, the author interesting shows how the laws of thermodynamics apply to constain its use and how society increasingly used energy to do more of work, leaving more time to create "the next big thing." Most importantly, he reviews many a societies' demise that did not manage their energy resources - the early Mayan civilization and much of Europe (in the mid centuries) who stripped their forests bare, leading to a crisis and near great receeding of society. Of course this leads us to today with our management of oil resources.

Will we follow the path of history and ignore the inevitable? The author does proposes way out: a new way of thinking akin to the military/gov't/industrial complex that has worked closely, cooperative and towards the same long-term plan for decades. Take that model and apply it in an energy partnership between government and industry that looks at the hard facts of energy balance and thermodyamics (like the fact that the internal combustion engine is completely inefficient compared to electric engines) and sets long-term goals and performance benchmarks. Will it happen in our current climate of politics and capitalism-at-all-costs? One can only hope so and advocate for it.

To me the most valuable contribution this book makes is its giving us a solid history lesson in energy creation and use. He gives us some new foundations for forming our policies and comclusions regarding our energy future. And its one that the non-technical person can follow as well as the engineer/scientist. I found this book more interesting that I expected. It gives a valuable background to better understand the implications of peak oil based on how past soceities have handled their "peak wood" and other energy dilemmas.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Feeding the Fire 23 May 2007
By Michael D. Parker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Feeding the Fire" The lost history and uncertain future of Mankind's energy addiction - delivers even more than its title promises. It is indeed a history of man's relationship with energy, and our current energy affairs - it is also a wonderfully entertaining, and accessible primer on the science of energy.

I love a book that both makes me feel both smarter when I have finished reading it, and at the same time completely pleased with the experience of reading it. This book accomplishes both goals. It is science writing in the vein of Carl Sagan and Lewis Thomas. I strongly recommend it.
The Story of How Energy Was Created and How it has Been Utilized 21 Oct. 2008
By Frederick S. Goethel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author begins the book with the basic physics needed to understand energy and how it operates. From there, the author moves on to the Laws of Thermodynamics and molecular energy and follows that with a history of the Big Bang and how energy was created.

Moving on, the author details how energy was harnessed and used by man for the advancement of man and follows into today's usage of energy. He finishes the book with a plan for energy independence in the United States in the future.

While the book was interesting, and contained some wonderful information, the writing was spotty. Some areas were well written and easy to follow, while others were dense and difficult to read. My greatest criticism is the amount of time spent on the Big Bang theory and molecular energy. Both could have been shortened and written so as to be more easily followed.

This is generally a good book for students and people with little understanding of how energy works. I would rate it slightly above introductory level. It certainly is not for individuals with a working knowledge of physics and energy principals. Generous with 4 stars...more like 3.5 stars is appropriate.
Good coverage of the first half of Energy and the Environment 20 May 2009
By Michael A. Duvernois - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It's unfortunate that this book went so quickly out of print save for a Kindle edition. Still, there are used copies available.

Anyway, this is a good book on Energy, the physics, the laws of thermodynamics, and what they mean for our lives on planet Earth. Lives that are increasingly being defined in terms of energy availability. This book gives you the tools to understand hybrid automobiles, alternative energy sources, peak oil, and energy policy. It's well written and accessible to anyone willing to deal with a modicum of math and some terms used in a technical manner. I'd seriously consider this as a partial text for an introductory non-technical Energy and the Environment.
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