Most helpful critical review
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Mostly for us and our parents than for our children
on 16 March 2012
I have not read "The Prize" so I can't compare. I launched into this 800 pages long book thinking that Mr Yergin would be able to sort out where we are and where we are going. He did a good job on the first issue but much less so on the second.
This book is a massive presentation of the present situation concerning the worlds energy production and the history behind it. As such it is sometimes quite interesting. The Chapter on Venezuela was even quite funny! The problem is that since the book is such a huge undertaking it is hard to combine and present the complete picture based on the various chapters. You get to learn about oil, coal, wind etc but where is the synthesis? It takes some time to read 800+ pages and that makes it even harder to take the conclusions you made after reading about oil and add it to the rest several days later.
In all of this presentation about how we ended up where we are today he brings up the question about "Peak Oil". This is one of the most debated concepts we have today in energy discussions. But after reading his book I must confess that his view in this is still unclear to me. If I understand him correctly we have not passed "Peak Oil" yet as some other experts believe but when will we? In my lifetime or in my children's or never? I really can't say what his view is and he is a world authority.
Some reviewers of the book have claimed that Mr Yergin is a friend of the big oils companies that dominate world energy production. I do not share these views. I think he is presenting the case of oil in a rather neutral way. Certainly Mr Yergin is no left wing politician but that makes him able to study these questions without any preconceived notions.
One problem in the book is his effort to combine the cases of Global Warming, pollution etc with the future of energy production. It sort of leaves you hanging there thinking that he forgot to wrap it up in a conclusion.
The Book is filled with facts but they are all spread out over 800 pages. There is a serious need for an appendix where you can go back and find these facts should you need them. How much energy does the world consume today? How much from oil etc? How much will we need 20 years from now? These are some of the questions you would like to find quickly instead of rereading 800 pages.
I know a lot now on how we got here but very little about where we are going. Mr Yergin simply refuses to put his foot down and make his prognosis or estimates for the future. This is really very disappointing since the focus of any dinner conversation or political debate on energy is not focused on how we got here but where we are going. If Mr Yergin can not help us with this, how will we with much less information and knowledge make an informed decision?